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worm

A Glimpse of Song Ci

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(1)

 

丑奴儿---辛弃疾

 

少年不识愁滋味,

爱上层楼。

爱上层楼,

赋新词强说愁。

 

而今识尽愁滋味,

欲说还休。

欲说还休,

却道天凉好个秋。

 

Chou Nu Er --by Qiji Xin

 

shao nian bu shi chou zi wei

ai shang ceng lou

ai shang ceng lou

wei fu xin ci qiang shuo chou

 

er jin shi jin chou zi wei

yu shuo hai xiu

yu shuo hai xiu

que dao tian liang hao ge qiou

 

 

Tune:Chou Nu Er

By Xin Qiji

 

In my youth I knew little woe

Up to a tower I'd like to go

Up to a tower I'd like to go

For a new poem I forced sorrow

 

Which now I perfectly know

But hardly could it be told

But hardly could it be told

I only say I'm glad the fall is cold

 

---thanslated by Xiao-zhen(worm)

 

note: Chou Nu Er, the tune pattern also known as Picking Mulberry, or Ugly Slave, under whose rules there cover 44 Chinese characters.

 

revised at Tinker's suggestion on Dec 5.

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I thought of making some change for the first line My youth knew little woe, but to keep the spirit of its form I quit the idea. What do you think of this?

 

Your opinions will be greatly appreciated.

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I thought of making some change for the first line My youth knew little woe, but to keep the spirit of its form I quit the idea. What do you think of this?

 

Your opinions will be greatly appreciated.

I'll have to defer to one of our Chinese-speaking members when it comes to meaningful advice on this line, but I think the first way works better in English. That's only because, in English, "youth" can be used to refer to a young person -- a youth.

 

The repetition is exciting and unexpected. Is use of this device common in Chinese poetry?

 

Tony

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worm and Tony, I too was surprised by the repetition and the linking rhyme. I have not come across either device used in the Chinese poetry I have read in the past of course translations to English cannot always preserve the rhyme scheme but a repeated line would be no different from Chinese to English.

 

worm, I love that not only do you provide the Chinese characters which to me are simply visual art, eye candy, but you also provide the Chinese words spelled out so we can see the rhyme even though we can't hear it.

 

~~Tink

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I thought of making some change for the first line My youth knew little woe, but to keep the spirit of its form I quit the idea. What do you think of this?

 

Your opinions will be greatly appreciated.

I'll have to defer to one of our Chinese-speaking members when it comes to meaningful advice on this line, but I think the first way works better in English. That's only because, in English, "youth" can be used to refer to a young person -- a youth.

 

The repetition is exciting and unexpected. Is use of this device common in Chinese poetry?

 

Tony

 

hi Tony, thanks for your reading and your suggestion as well. I'm sure i'll gather more valuable opinions from Chinese-speaking memebers and some other poets who are interested in ancient Chinese poems. My thanks are given to them in advance!

 

As for your query, the repetition is not very common in our poems. Since Ci(also known as Lyrics) in Song Dynasty were written to be sung to a certain tune(Ci form), within which rules for composing the Ci poem and the corresponding melody would be specified. So Ci poems are musical even now melodies are lost. There are hundreds of thousands of tune forms. Chou Nu Er is the one that uses the device of repetition to produce more melodious effect.

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worm and Tony, I too was surprised by the repetition and the linking rhyme. I have not come across either device used in the Chinese poetry I have read in the past of course translations to English cannot always preserve the rhyme scheme but a repeated line would be no different from Chinese to English.

 

worm, I love that not only do you provide the Chinese characters which to me are simply visual art, eye candy, but you also provide the Chinese words spelled out so we can see the rhyme even though we can't hear it.

 

~~Tink

 

Hi Tinker, here i'd like to share more with you in learning Ci Poetry.

 

The rules for Ci poetry is rigid, but I'm surprised to see the flexibility inside the rules when I look up the Official Compilation of Ci Poetry.For example, the repetition may not be applied in another Chou Nu Er poem. And a slight rhyming difference is also tolerable. In the same form, some parts are restricted to rhyme while a few other parts are not(You'll read this in the following poem I'd like to introduce). However, when more characters are added to the original form, a reasonable changing in level and oblique tones takes place accordingly, thus the derivation of the standard form, a modified name is noted differently from the original one.

 

As for Chou Nu Er, Ugly Slave, Picking Mulberry, Lady Luo Fu Mei, they are of the same tune/form but just some nicknames adopted from different stories the Ci poems told. There is an amazing truth we should know about this form we've begun with-- It has more than 26 nicknames plus the derivated.

 

In translation, I think we can do our utmost to keep the form and rhyming spirit, but not sure of the meter accord, since we do the counting word by word and you syllable by syllable. Another point, in the original poem, great importance has been attached to level and oblique tones. Maybe there is a match between the two languages in iambic/ trochee and level/oblique tones, but this makes me headache and I'll again leave it to time and authorities.

 

You are very observant Tinker. Yes with help of Chinese Pinyin, the phonetic symbol, you can judge the short and long lines and read the rhymed parts easily. Actually I did pay some attention to the counting stuff in the beginning of my work, but all in syllables. It's interesting to try word by word in English instead of syllable. We will see.Well, for the rhyming scheme, I just ignored the original and took what favored me, but we still can try the loyalty. I'll post another Ci poem of the same frame Chou Nu Er/Picking Mulberry, but you'll read a minor difference in Chinese version from the first one I've introduced. Just have a look. Maybe next time I'll put one with a variation of this form.

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2)

 

采桑子--吕本中

 

恨君不似江楼月

南北东西

南北东西

只有相随无别离

 

恨君却似江楼月

暂满还亏

暂满还亏

待得团圆是几时

 

hen jun bu si jiang zhong yue

nan bei dong xi

nan bei dong xi

zhi you xiang sui wu bie li

 

hen jun que si jiang zhong yue

zan man huan kui

zan man huan kui

dai de tuan yuan shi ji shi

 

Tune: Picking Mulberry

by Lu Ben Zhong

 

version 1

I hate you are not like the moon in the water

south and west, north and east

south and west, north and east

just in my party and not to take your leave

 

I hate you are but like the moon in the water

that waxes now and then wanes

that waxes now and then wanes

Till when lovebirds will be in a full moon again?

 

version 2

I wish you were but the moon in the water

south and west, north and east

south and west, north and east

just in my party and not to take your leave

 

I wish you were not the moon in the water

who waxes now and then wanes

who waxes now and then wanes

Till when we will be like the full moon again

 

I just feel like putting the two versions here for a comparision. Which one you like better? Or any parts need polishing? Thanks!

 

worm

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Great effort in ci translation, worm. I see you are trying to preserve the same number of words and rhyme scheme in some of your translations. It's much admirable. Sometimes as we all know the two languages are different enough to disregard the syllable count and word count, otherwise the English version would sound forced. But you are just doing fine.

 

There are a few more translated versions of this poem I've found on the internet. Here you go.

 

丑奴儿---辛弃疾

 

少年不识愁滋味,

爱上层楼。

爱上层楼,

赋新词强说愁。

 

而今识尽愁滋味,

欲说还休。

欲说还休,

却道天凉好个秋。

 

V1:translated by Xu Hanchong

 

Song of Picking Mulberry

 

While young,I knew no grief I could not bear,

I'd like to go upstair.

I'd like to go upstair

To write new verses,with a false despair.

 

I know what grief is now that I am old.

I would not have it told.

I would not have it told

But only say I'm glad that autumn's cold.

 

V2:by Lin Yutang

 

In my young days,

I had tasted only gladness.

But loved to mount the top floor,

But loved to mount the top floor,

To write a song pretending sadness.

 

And now I've tasted sorrow's flavors, bitter and sour,

And can't find a word,

And can't find a word,

But merely say,"What a golden autumn hour !"

 

 

V3: by Liu Wu-Chi

To the tune of Ts'ai-sang tzu

 

When young, I knew not the taste of sorrow,

But loved to mount the high towers;

I loved to mount the high towers

To compose a new song, urging myself to talk about sorrow.

 

Now that I have known all the taste of sorrow,

I would like to talk about it, but refrain;

I would like to talk about it, but refrain,

And say merely: "It is chilly; what a fine autumn!"

 

V4: by A. Ayling & D. Mackintosh

Chou Nu Er

 

In days when I was young and didn't know the taste of sorrow

I like to climb the storied tower,

I like to climb the storied tower;

To write the latest odes I forced myself to tell of sorrow.

 

Now that I understand the taste of sorrow altogether

I would like to tell, but stop,

I would like to tell, but stop;

Instead I say, 'What a cool day! Such lovely autumn weather!'

 

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Hi lake thanks for your comment, your understanding and recommendation of the exemplified translations from masters. Yes I did try my versions in accord with the original ones controlled by rigid rules, but personally I prefer flexible style. Tony has showed such a sample in Parting Gift. Yes I read the awkwardness when accentuating more on form compatibility. After all, the habitual expression of the two languages varies. When translation liberated from the stiffly ancient rules it makes sense and gives life to poetic spirit. i enjoy reading all versions you have introduced, but the first one if my best.

 

from opinions given by Tinker in PC, i've changed the last line in my first Ci poem which now reads:

In my youth I knew little woe

Up to a tower I'd like to go

Up to a tower I'd like to go

For a new poem I forced sorrow

 

which now I perfectly know

but hardly could it be told

but hardly could it be told

I only say I’m glad the fall is cold

 

thanks to Tinker!

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(1)

 

丑奴儿---辛弃疾

 

少年不识愁滋味,

爱上层楼。

爱上层楼,

赋新词强说愁。

 

而今识尽愁滋味,

欲说还休。

欲说还休,

却道天凉好个秋。

 

Chou Nu Er --by Qiji Xin

 

shao nian bu shi chou zi wei

ai shang ceng lou

ai shang ceng lou

wei fu xin ci qiang shuo chou

 

er jin shi jin chou zi wei

yu shuo hai xiu

yu shuo hai xiu

que dao tian liang hao ge qiou

 

 

Tune:Chou Nu Er

By Xin Qiji

 

In my youth I knew little woe

Up to a tower I'd like to go

Up to a tower I'd like to go

For a new poem I forced sorrow

 

Which now I perfectly know

But hardly could it be told

But hardly could it be told

I only say I'm glad the fall is cold

 

---thanslated by Xiao-zhen(worm)

 

note: Chou Nu Er, the tune pattern also known as Picking Mulberry, or Ugly Slave, under whose rules there cover 44 Chinese characters.

 

revised at Tinker's suggestion on Dec 5.

翻得不错!最后一行是否可以这样:I only say what a fall to be cold! Harold

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Hi Harold, So glad to see you posting here and adding another perspective to the translation.

 

I wish worm was around to respond. I learned a lot from Worm about Chinese poetry but it seems Worm has moved on and has not been active on this forum for a long time. It is our loss. I miss worm.

 

You translate the last line of the poem differently which brings a poetic balance "up to the tower I would go" "what a fall to be cold" that I did not see in Worm's translation. Thank you.

 

~~Tink

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In addition, the last line is an exclamation in Chinese. So here we use a simplified exclamation sentence to be its equivalent.

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Studying at Cambridge, UK, in 2006, I wrote several Chinese poems; one of them is:

 

到 剑 桥

 

牛津

哈佛

剑桥

耶鲁

向往把疲倦挤压到意识之外 ---

学城在陌生的黎明前闪现光彩。

 

 

蓝天

白云

绿草

学生

清澈的河水倒映着柳枝与天鹅 ---

美妙的宁静浸润着痴醉的心窝。

 

 

仪式

图书

网络

建筑

人人都崇尚着文化的力量与准则 ---

创造亦破土而出且层层相叠。

 

 

 

郭 勇

2006年11月8日星期三下午 于剑桥

 

Now I've translated it into English. Would you like to take a look at it?

 

Reaching Cambridge

 

Oxford

Harvard

Cambridge

And Yale;

Yearning drove my travel weariness out of the conscious

As the university city gleamed before dawn its brilliance.

 

Blue sky

White clouds

Green grass

Students;

A limpid river reflected willow twigs and swans on its water

While nice serenity immersed my intoxicated soul and heart.

 

Rituals

And books

Network

Buildings;

Men and women all upheld the power and principle of culture

Thus creations came into the world with or without any nurture.

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Wow Harold this is beautiful. The imagery of the 2nd stanza is elegant. I wish I could hear the phonetics of the Chinese. My understanding is that poetry of

Song Ci is written to melodies which are long forgotten and each melody has a title such as To the Tune of ????. What is the title of your poem?

Better late than never... ~~smile~~

~~Tink

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Dear Tinker:

 

Very, very sorry to respond to your comments almost a year after. The form of the above poem is something between Song Ci and new Chinese free verse. It's one of my experiments, not having a title as you mentioned if I fully understand what you mean by the word "title". As a matter of fact, modern Chinese poems only have names to themselves, seldom having a title except on the occasion that someone endeavors to imitate an old form.

 

Hope to see your new work posted.

Thanks.

 

Harold

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