Read Poetry Through Translation
I put this together mainly for my own enjoyment. Of course, it is also my goal to make a small difference in our attempt to study or appreciate classical Chinese poetry and prose. I assume that my readers are primarily those who learn Chinese as a second language, or those whose mother tongue is not Chinese.
Let me be frank, I am neither a scholar of Chinese poetry nor a translator by profession. When it comes to shi and ci poetry, I am but a self-taught learner and late starter. I did not start writing my first “real” poem until four years into retirement. However, I do have a passion for making the study of classical Chinese poetry (and the Chinese language too) easier and less complicated for bilingual students.
I enjoy the bilingual approach to interpreting and translating classical Chinese poetry. The bilingual approach is actually the tool I used to learn the craft of writing shi and ci poems.
I am the first to admit that my translations are far from being perfect. They are certainly not free from misinterpretations, omissions, errors, and personal biases. I encourage you to review them critically. Further, my translations are intended as "reading aids" only. In other words, each of my translations serves only one purpose: To facilitate reading and understanding the original poem, lyric, or essay.
--- E. C. Chang
(Tune: Que Qiao Xian)
by Qin Guan
tr. E. C.Chang
Fine clouds show their artistic faces.
Blinking stars convey their grief in space.
So wide and dim to go across the Milky Way!
Meeting once a year in autumn is surely sweeter
than numerous earthly reunions on any given day.
Their feelings are as tender as water;
their annual date is like a dream forever.
On the magpie bridge, how can they bear
to turn homeward one more time?
If mutual love will last and never die,
why need to be together day and night?
Song: to Celia [“Drink to me only with thine eyes”]
BY BEN JONSON
Drink to me only with thine eyes,
And I will pledge with mine;
Or leave a kiss but in the cup,
And I’ll not look for wine.
The thirst that from the soul doth rise
Doth ask a drink divine;
But might I of Jove’s nectar sup,
I would not change for thine.
I sent thee late a rosy wreath,
Not so much honoring thee
As giving it a hope, that there
It could not withered be.
But thou thereon didst only breathe,
And sent’st it back to me;
Since when it grows, and smells, I swear,
Not of itself, but thee.
英譯中：E. C. Chang
(E. C. Chang)
What Is Love?
Love is the clouds on the mountain peak;
the shining light of waves on the sea;
the youth with two wings;
an ego that keeps rising.
Love is an enchanting melody;
the skylight of the soul;
the echoes in loneliness;
a storm haven and shelter.
Love is the soul mate of the heart;
the fragrance of spring flowers;
the hope of mortals;
the paradise for our dreams.
A life without love would be like
a rose bush that will never bloom;
a stream in which no fish will swim;
a moon with no surrounding stars;
a rising sun with no clouds
upon which to glow brighter.
(translated by E. C. Chang)