03 August 2009

白居易 Bai Juyi: 大林寺桃花 Peach Blossoms at the Dalin Temple

POSTSCRIPT 6.6.2011, LATEST REVISION: My English rendition of this Bai Juyi poem was first posted here in August 2009. It was revised and posted on my other blog (link at top right corner) on 20.5.2011. It is now further revised as follows (notes revised according in the original post):-

Bai Juyi (772-846): Peach Blossoms at the Dalin Temple

1 In men’s realm, after April, blossoms have all but spent;
2 At this a mountain temple, ‘tis time for the peach to blow.
3 Ever complaining spring, once gone, could nowhere be found,
4 Never did know into here it had turned, unhurried to go.

Translated by Andrew W.F. Wong (Huang Hongfa) 譯者: 黃宏發

27th July 2009 (revised 29.7.09; 30.7.09; 31.7.09; 1.8.09; 3.8.09; 10.5.11; 6.6.11)

ORIGINAL POST 3.8.2009: Below is my latest translation. It is a poem by Bai Juyi or Po Chu-I. Hope you will enjoy it.


Bai Juyi (772-846): Peach Blossoms at the Dalin Temple

1 In the plains past April, peach blossoms have all but gone;
2 In the hills at the temple, ‘tis the time for the peach to blow.
3 Ever plaintful: spring once spent, was nowhere to be found;
4 Never did know: to the hills it’d turned, and reluctant to go.

Translated by Andrew W.F. Wong (Huang Hongfa)       譯者: 黃宏發

27th July 2009 (revised 29.7.09; 30.7.09; 31.7.09; 1.8.09; 3.8.09) (further revised 6.6.2011)

Translated from the original - 白居易: 大林寺桃花

1 人間四月芳菲盡
2 山寺桃花始盛開
3 長恨春歸無覓處
4 不知轉入此中來


Notes
(revised up to 6.6.2011):
* This English rendition is in hexameter (6 metrical feet) while the original is in 7-character lines. The rhyme scheme is XAXA as in the original.
* Line 1: I had considered “world”, decided for “plains” to contrast with “hills” in line 2, but have now decided to revise it to the literal "men's realm". As the “fourth month” on the Chinese lunar calendar approximates May, I had used “past April” now "after April" to translate 四月. I had used "gone" but have now revised it to "spent".

* Line 2: "In the hills at the temple" is now amended to read "At this a mountain temple", and "'tis the time", to "'tis time"
* Line 3: Unlike the poet’s most famous poem 長恨歌 “Ode/Song of Everlasting Regret/Sorrow”, 長 here means 常 “always/ever” and 恨 here means 怨 “complain”. I had originally used “Ever plaintful: spring once spent"", but have now decided for “Ever complaining: spring once gone”.
* Line 4: I had used “Never knowing” to parallel “Ever complaining” in line 3, but have now decided for “Never did know” which subtly suggests “Now I know”. This is precisely what the whole poem is about (Line 1: blossoms gone/spent in the plains; Line 2: peach blossoms blow in the hills at the temple; Line 3: always thought, spring once spent/gone, cannot be found; Line 4: now I know spring is in the hills). I had originally used "to the hills" to translate 此中 but have now decided for
the literal “into here”. I have added “and reluctant to go”, now "unhurried to go" to end this last line of the poem both to complete the rhyme and to say “the poet does not wish spring to go” by saying “spring does not wish to go”.