06 May 2011

李煜 Li Yu: 相見歡/烏夜啼 (1- 林花謝了春紅): Xiang Jian Huan/Wu Ye Ti (Happy Together/Crows Caw at Night), II With Love (1- Flower groves have shed their spring red halo)

Today I am posting my rendition of a second poem by the last emperor of the Southern Tang dynasty Li Yu known as Li Houzhu (the last poem being posted in February and March). Like the last one, the difference in line lengths and the two rhymes are strictly followed and reproduced in English. Hope you enjoy it:-

Li Yu (937-978): Xiang Jian Huan/Wu Ye Ti (Happy Together/Crows Caw at Night) (1- Flower groves have shed their spring red halo)

1      Flower groves have shed their spring red halo;
2     (Oh, far too soon to go,)
       O far too soon to go, (revised 25.9.12)
3a   Weathering not the morning sleets and
3b      the winds by evening blow.

4     Tears of rouge you’re dripping,
5     Together, our wine we’re sipping;
6     Ever again in the morrow?
7a    (Ah, life is beset as always with sorrow)
        Ah life is beset as always with sorrow (revised 25.9.12)
7b       as eastwards waters must flow.

Translated by Andrew W.F. Wong (Huang Hongfa)       譯者: 黃宏發
14 February 2011 (revised 17.2.11; 21.2.11; 24.2.11; 25.2.11; 10.3.11; 30.4.11)
Translated from the original - 李煜相見歡/烏夜啼 其二 (1--林花謝了春红)

1      林花謝了春红
2      太怱
3a  無奈朝來寒雨
3b  晚來風

4     胭脂淚
5     相留醉
6     幾時重
7a   自是人生長恨
7b   水長東

* Form, Metre and Rhyme:  This English rendition is in long and short lines, tetrameter (4 feet) for the 6-character lines (1, 3a and 7a) and trimeter (3 feet) for the 3-character lines (2, 3b, 4, 5, 6 and 7b). The rhyme scheme is AAA, BBAA (or, if lines 3 and 7 were regarded as 2 lines each, AAXA, BBAXA). I am indebted to my friend D.C. Lau (Din Cheuk) 劉殿爵 (passed away 2010, God bless his soul!) for his rendition of this poem the editor has entitled “To ‘Crows Cry in the Night’ No. 1” in Alice W. Cheang (ed.) “A Silver Treasury of Chinese Lyrics” Hong Kong: The Chinese University 2003, p. 28. From him, I have borrowed “too soon” (line 2), “tears of rouge” (line 4), “ever…again” (line 6), and “always beset” (line 7a).
* Lines 1 and 2: I had originally written “Flowers in the groves have lost their springtime glow”, then decided to move the idea and the word “spring” from line 1 to line 2 (“Oh spring, too soon to go”) in order to restrict line 1 to 4 feet (“Flowers in the groves have lost their glow”), but have now decided for “Flower groves have shed their spring red halo”. I am grateful to D.C. Lau for the repeated “oo” sound in “too soon” to translate 怱怱.
* Lines 3a and 3b: The lines are in fact a single 9-character line with a caesura breaking it into 6 and 3 characters rendered as a 7 feet line of 4 feet followed by 3.
* Line 4: I am grateful to D.C. Lau for rendering 胭脂淚aptly and beautifully as “tears of rouge”, rouge being a red colour facial makeup. Though not in the original, I have added the very reasonable “dripping” to make it possible to rhyme lines 4 and 5.
* Line 5: For 相留,I had originally penned “Onto”, then considered “Mingling with”, “Commingling with” and “Tingeing”, but have now decided simply for “Together”. is interpreted not as “drunk” but as “to drink wine” and is rendered as “our wine we’re sipping”.”
* Line 6: I am grateful to D.C. Lau for his interpretation of 幾時 not as “when” but as “ever” and his choice of “again” for . The line, in his words, reads “Will this ever be again?” My “Ever again” is an abbreviation of “Will this ever be again in the morrow?” or “Will we ever meet again in the morrow?” I have used “in the morrow” to mean not just “tomorrow” but a “morrow” extended to the future.
*Lines 7a and 7b: Structurally, these correspond to lines 3a and 3b and are similarly rendered. I take 自是 to mean “what follows is true” and simply translate it as “Oh” or“Ah” to be followed by the truism. I had originally considered formulating the line as “Oh, mine is a life, etc.”, but have now decided to borrow D.C. Lau’s “always beset with” followed by “sorrow”. The “sorrow” rhyme is accidental as I regard “grief” too weak and “woe” too strong (which also rhymes). For line 7b “as eastwards waters must flow”, I had considered revising “waters” to read “rivers”, but have now decided against it.