mjj (flemmings) wrote,

Think, when we talk of war horses...

...that you see them printing their proud texts in traditional, not simplified, hanzi.

Woxin is whipping my ass with its Chinese. A break for something simpler: videlicet, Li Bai. His justly famous chestnut classic, 'At Yellow Crane Tower, Saying Farewell to Meng Haoran on his way to Yangzhou.' (I wish I hadn't found out that this is a warhorse. Met without preconceptions, it's breath-taking. Then you discover it's the 'Wherefore art thou Romeo' of Chinese poetry. Dommage.)



Immensely simple; only a couple of kanji that an intermediate Japanese reader wouldn't know. It's the simple ones that are impossible, as that one poem by Wang Wei about the sun-illumined moss shows. But we do our best.

Here's Bynner:
You have left me behind, old friend, at the Yellow Crane Terrace,
On your way to visit Yangzhou in the misty month of flowers;
Your sail, a single shadow, becomes one with the blue sky,
Till now I see only the river, on its way to heaven.
Should I quote Pound? This is the one that has several howlers, due to him going through two languages he didn't know.
Ko-jin goes west from Ko-kaku-ro,
The smoke flowers are blurred over the river.
His lone sail blots the far sky.
And now I see only the river,
The long Kiang, reaching heaven.
Kojin is just 'old friend' and not anyone's name. And well, Ko-kaku-ro is yellow crane tower in Japanese.

And here's the one I like best, from a book called The Heart of Chinese Poetry by Greg Whincup, the first book I ever met to give me the Chinese text and a literal word-for-word rendering. It took a long time for people to realize that the occasional English speaker could in fact make some sense of the hanzi involved, but I'm pleased to see the notion of Chinese text and English translation is now becoming more widespread.
My old friend
Bids farewell to me
In the west at Yellow Crane Tower.
Amid April's mist and flowers
He goes down to Yang-jou.

The distant image
Of his lonely sail
Disappears in blue emptiness,
And all I see
Is the Long River
Flowing to the edge of the sky
Sniff sniff snerf, which the other translations don't make me do.
Tags: chinese, verse
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