12 November 2014

王勃 Wang Bo: 山中 In the Mountains

Here is my translation of a quatrain by early Tang dynasty poet 王勃 Wang Bo who is better known for having written one masterpiece of Chinese prose and poetry 滕王閣序 or 滕王閣詩序 "On Prince Teng's Tower: A Tribute with a Poem".  To find out more about this, you may wish to visit my friend Frank Yue's blog "Chinese Poetry in English Verse":- http://chinesepoetryinenglishverse.blogspot.hk/2013/03/by-bank-of-river-gan-king-tengs-grand.html.

Wang Bo is regarded as one of the Four Greats of Early Tang 初唐四傑 (together with 楊烱 Yang Jiong, 盧照鄰 Lu Zhaolin and 駱賓王 Luo Binwang). Unfortunately, he died young at the age of 26 (or 28 by Chinese reckoning which takes birth to be one year old and passage of the New Year to be two) in an accident at sea in the South China Sea while sailing north from 交趾 Jiaozhi (probably present day 榮市 Vinh city, 義安省 Nghe An province, 中北部 Middle-North region, Vietnam) where his father was posted to in relegation. It may be of interest to note that the American Cochin-China and the British Cochin China came from the French Cochinchina (or Cochinchine) which derived from the Portugese Cochim-China which borrowed from the Malay Kuchi which in turn derived from the Chinese Jiaozhi, pronounced Giao Chi in Vietnamese and Gao Tsi in Cantonese Chinese.  You may wish to search for "Cochinchina" in Wikipedia.

Without further ado, here goes this little poem:-  

Wang Bo (650-676): In the Mountains

1  As languid, long as the river, steeped in sorrow am I,
2  A myriad miles from home----to return, but when? I sigh.
3  (O now as day demises, so high are the autumn winds that)
And now as darkness nears, high are the autumn winds that
(revised 17.11.14)
4  On each and every mountain, how the yellow leaves fly!
Translated by Andrew W.F. Wong (Huang Hongfa)     譯者: 黃宏發
24 July 2008 (revised 25.7.08; 18.9.08; 20.9.08; 22.9.08; 7.11.2014)
Translated from the original - 王勃: 山中

1  長江悲已滯
2  萬里念將歸
3 况屬高風晚
4  山山黃葉飛

*The original is in 5-character lines.  This English rendition is in hexameter (6 beats) as I have been unable to render it in pentameter (5 beats).  The rhyme scheme is AAXA as in the original.
*Line 1:  I had originally penned “Like the long and languid river” but have now decided for “As languid, long as the river”.
*Line 2:  I had originally penned “Myriads of miles from home” but have now decided for “A myriad miles from home”.
*Line 3:  For the word “late in the day”, I had originally penned “Oh, as daylight wanes” but have now decided for “O now as day demises” (amended as "And now as darkness falls" 17.11.14).  高風 here means “autumn winds” which are high or strong.  This translation covers both “autumn” and “high”.  (I have deleted "so" from "so high are the". 17.11.14)
*Line 4:  For the repetition of the word in the line, I have used the less than perfect repetition of the letter “e” in “each and every”.  For 黃葉 “yellow leaves”, I had considered “falling leaves” but have decided for the literal translation.