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Breeze blows over Green Dappled Stream - Shen He


Lake
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(This is my translation of a Chinese poem. I want to know if the meaning gets crossed, and I'm indebted to any suggestions of further smoothing, tuning this translation. )

 

Breeze blows over Green Dappled Stream

 

Calm down. Even rough wrinkles become

smooth when a gentle breeze blows over.

By the bank, I’m becalmed, fame and gain

disappear from my mind, noises no more.

Before a farmer fetches water, I dip my feet in it.

Fish swim over, jumping from my palm to vein,

then upstream. At this moment, the whispers cease

from Green Dappled Stream's lips and tongue,

because of my presence and my one foot in the water.

An unknown bird, wittingly, treads

its little feet softly over the surface of the water

like an adult quietly poking a child's armpit

with his forefinger. Water splashes and sprays with

a burst of giggles. Not only do I see the laughter

but also I hear the sound of Green Dappled Stream.

微风扫过青印溪

沈河

 

静下来。仅要微风扫过

粗糙的皱纹也会平整。在岸边

我静下来,心中的名利

收敛了,不再吵吵闹闹

我在农人挑水前,轻轻把脚放入水中

鱼儿游来,从掌心跳到我的血管,逆流而上

此时,青印溪的私语

停在唇舌间,因为我在这里

以及伸进一只脚

一只不知名的小鸟是故意的

小脚轻轻地踩过河面

像大人的食指悄悄伸进孩子的腋窝

发出的笑由水花一一表现

我不仅看到笑,还听到青印溪的声音

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goldenlangur

Hi Lake,

 

This is an exquisite verse, the likes of which we do not often come across. Love the way the 'farmer, the 'fish', 'unknown bird' and the 'poet' are woven into the narrative. These lines are delightful!:

 

An unknown bird, wittingly, treads

its little feet softly over the surface of the water

like an adult quietly poking a child's armpit

with his forefinger, water splashes and sprays like

a burst of giggles. Not only do I see the laughter

but also I hear the sound of Green Dappled Stream

 

I haven't read any of Shen He's poems and would love to know a little more about his dates and his background. I hope you'll post more. Your translation is beautiful, I can't think how it might be improved icon_smile.gif

 

 

goldenlangur

goldenlangur

 

 

Even a single enemy is too many and a thousand friends too few - Bhutanese saying.

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Hi Golden,

 

Thanks for your read and comment.

 

Shen He is a contemporary poet who just passed away in November this year at age of 47, too young! I translated his poem in remembrance of him.

 

It's hard for the translator to step away form his translation, so I need someone else to have a look at it. Probably, there are places where the expression is not clear, or not the way how native English speakers would say.

 

It'll be great if you could share your translation experience.

 

Best,

 

Lake

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Flame shines upon Grandma’s last moment

 

Flame swallows the dry firewood

warms the coldness

Sitting in front of the kitchen stove

as the red light licks along her wrinkles

grandma, narrowing her eyes

watches the wood turn to charcoal

then ashes

 

No one knows

how much firewood is left in her body

as the firewood stored in each person varies.

Her countenance, the way she walks

shows there should be more

She’s burnt out, extinguished, far off our expectation

we haven’t even seen the last flash of light

 

 

火焰,照耀外婆的最后时刻

沈河

 

火焰吃着干柴,发出的温暖

冲淡寒冷

外婆坐在灶前

红光舔着她的脸,沿着皱纹的走势

她眯着双眼,看干柴变炭

变成灰烬

 

谁也不知道

她的体内还剩多少干柴

因为每个人体内干柴的存贮量有多有少

看她的面容,看她的走路

应该还有很多

她烧完了,灭了,严重偏离我们的期待

连最后闪一下的光,我们都没见到

 

(suggestions are greatly appreciated.)

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goldenlangur

Hi again Lake,

 

How beautiful that you've shared this poet's work with us! What a tragedy that he died at 47 - so much that he could have writtten now lost!

 

You make a good point here:

 

Lake wrote:

 

It's hard for the translator to step away form his translation, so I need someone else to have a look at it. Probably, there are places where the expression is not clear, or not the way how native English speakers would say.

 

Lake

 

It's quite difficult to convey a sensibility that may be alien to others. But from what I could read the poem flows well and the images are clear and well linked. So you've done a tremendous job here. But of course as an non-Chinese speaker I may not be aware of nuances which you've tried to express. I hope you get more informed feedback, perhaps of technical aspects of the poem, if not language.

 

As for my translating efforts - there's not much lay literature. Most works are of saints and visionary poets who were monks or adepts of a particular tradition. So I'm bound by certain concepts like Dharma, Samsara, Nirvana, Dukha, transitoriness of the human condition etc. Where possible and required, I try to use words that literally translate, what these mean in our classical language, to convey in English, what these allude to. It can be a hit-and-miss thing icon_wink.gif

 

goldenlangur

goldenlangur

 

 

Even a single enemy is too many and a thousand friends too few - Bhutanese saying.

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goldenlangur

Hi Lake,

 

Love the metaphorical allusions here to the life-force in the images of the

kitchen stove

and

firewood

.

 

Poignant and reflective. These lines are fabulous:

 

as the red light licks along her wrinkles

grandma, narrowing her eyes

watches the wood turn to charcoal

then ashes

 

And also these:

 

No one knows

how much firewood left in her body

as the firewood stored in each person varies.

 

Is this 'firewood in each person' akin to Chi?

 

Enjoyed this too very much. Is it another of Shen He's?

 

 

 

goldenlangur

goldenlangur

 

 

Even a single enemy is too many and a thousand friends too few - Bhutanese saying.

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goldenlangur wrote:

 

As for my translating efforts - there's not much lay literature. Most works are of saints and visionary poets who were monks or adepts of a particular tradition. So I'm bound by certain concepts like
Dharma
,
Samsara
,
Nirvana,
Dukha
, transitoriness of the human condition etc. Where possible and required, I try to use words that literally translate, what these mean in our classical language, to convey in English, what these allude to. It can be a hit-and-miss thing
icon_wink.gif

 

Hi Golden,

 

What an experience! Your work must've been influenced a lot by the works you've translated. No wonder I always feel there's something so subtle in your haiku and tanka that it hardly appears in my poems. You must be good at Zen poems, too.

 

Much admiration,

 

Lake

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goldenlangur

Hi Lake,

 

I fear that you're too generous in your encouragement and assign me an honor of which I truly have to strive and achieve more, to come anywhere near, to deserving it:

 

Lake wrote:

 

What an experience! Your work must've been influenced a lot by the works you've translated. No wonder I always feel there's something so subtle in your haiku and tanka that it hardly appears in my poems. You must be good at Zen poems, too.

 

Much admiration,

 

Lake

 

What I meant is that translation in my case involves little secular/lay literature and is mostly the esoteric poems of some of the adepts of the various Buddhist traditions. God knows, how often I miss the nuances of the Masters, let alone get across the crux of their thoughts icon_redface.gif I must confess that I know little about Zen apart from a few translated works.

 

But yes, you're quite right - reading the works of the Masters certainly influences and inspires. But I do believe I have much to learn.

 

It's not that I don't appreciate your kindness and encouragement, but I cannot claim anything more than reading to learn and learning to read, as my father used to say.

 

 

 

goldenlangur

goldenlangur

 

 

Even a single enemy is too many and a thousand friends too few - Bhutanese saying.

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goldenlangur wrote:

 

Love the metaphorical allusions here to the life-force in the images of the
kitchen stove

and
firewood

.

 

Poignant and reflective. These lines are fabulous:

 

as the red light licks along her wrinkles

grandma, narrowing her eyes

watches the wood turn to charcoal

then ashes

 

And also these:

 

No one knows

how much firewood left in her body

as the firewood stored in each person varies.

 

Is this '
firewood in each person
' akin to
Chi
?

 

Enjoyed this too very much. Is it another of Shen He's?

 

 

Hi Golden,

 

I'm thrilled to read your take on this poem, probably you've read more from it than I did. Yes, you can allude firewood to life, to qi, when firewood is burnt out, qi is exhausted from a person's body. Oftentimes, candlelight is used to symbolize life; when it's blown out, a person's life reaches his end.

 

Yes, this is another poem from Shen He.

 

Thank you very much for the careful reading and comment.

 

Lake

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goldenlangur wrote:

 

I fear that you're too generous in your encouragement and assign me an honor of which I truly have to strive and achieve more, to come anywhere near, to deserving it:

 

I cannot claim anything more than reading to learn and learning to read, as my father used to say.

 

 

Golden,

 

I'm not always that 'generous', but rather sometimes I'm 'mean'.

reading to learn and learning to read, very well said.

 

Lake

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Lake, in my view these striking translations could stand on their own as English poems. Outside of your terrific discussion with Goldenlangur, I can only offer a few minor suggestions (in bold) for possible improvement --

Lake wrote:

 

Breeze blows over Green Dappled Stream

 

Calm down. Even rough wrinkles become

smooth when a gentle breeze blows over.

By the bank, I’m becalmed, fame and gain

disappear from my mind, noises no more.

Before a farmer fetches water, I dip my feet in it.

A fish
swims over, jumping from my palm to vein,

then upstream. At this moment, Green Dappled Stream

stops whispering at its lips and tongue,

because of my presence and my one foot in the water.

An unknown bird, wittingly, treads

its little feet softly over the surface of the water

like an adult quietly poking a child's armpit

with his forefinger
. W
ater splashes and sprays with

a burst of giggles. Not only do I see the laughter

but also I hear the sound of Green Dappled Stream.

If you want to use fish in the plural sense, then you could write "Fish swim over ..." Where you write, Green Dappled Stream/stops whispering at its lips and tongue, I presume that you mean from its lips and tongue. Perhaps you could just say "Green Dappled Stream stops whispering." Or, alternatively, you could reword it to read something like, "The whispers cease from Green Dappled Stream's lips and tongue."

 

As for the next one, I only have this:

Lake wrote:

 

Flame shines upon Grandma’s last moment

 

Flame swallows the dry firewood

warms the coldness

Sitting in front of the kitchen stove

as the red light licks along her wrinkles

grandma, narrowing her eyes

watches the wood turn to charcoal

then ashes

 

No one knows

how much firewood
is
left in her body

as the firewood stored in each person varies.

Her countenance, the way she walks

shows there should be more

She’s burnt out, extinguished, far off our expectation

we haven’t even seen the last flash of light

Both translations are fantastic. Would you be willing to share the Chinese versions? (Not that I would be able to read them, but just to see what they look like ...)

 

Tony

Here is a link to an index of my works on this site: tonyv's Member Archive topic

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Aleksandra

What a nice conversation you both have here Lake and Goldenlangur. I don't know how I missed this nice thread here. I agree that translation of the poems always goes so hard. All that looking for the expressions in English ( in this case ) and then to keep the sense of the poem, always gives a hard time. I know by my own experience, so never is easy :) . But here you did well job Lake.

 

Bw, I must agree with Tony, for posting the original version of the poem, anyway this forum is basic for that, to see how it looks the poems in another language than English. And also because this is not yours poem, it can be moved in the right place, in this same World Poetry forum, but under Non-English Poetry, together with the Chinese versions sure.

 

Thank you Lake for sharing this job with us.

 

Aleksandra

The poet is a liar who always speaks the truth - Jean Cocteau

History of Macedonia

 

 

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Tony,

 

Thank you very much for this long awaited scrutinizing. You are spot on. The questions you raised are the places of which I'm not sure.

 

tonyv wrote:

 

If you want to use
fish
in the plural sense, then you could write "Fish swim over ..." Where you write,
Green Dappled Stream/stops whispering at its lips and tongue,
I presume that you mean
from
its lips and tongue. Perhaps you could just say "Green Dappled Stream stops whispering." Or, alternatively, you could reword it to read something like, "The whispers cease from Green Dappled Stream's lips and tongue."

 

This 'fish' like 'grass' always troubles me. I'll take your suggestion either use a single fish or use as a group of fish.

 

'lips and tongue', if I were the author, I'd write "Green Dappled Stream stops whispering." Since the original has 'lips and tongue', I guess I have to stick to it. I tried the other way, but it didn't work . Your rewrite is much better. I'll have it changed later.

 

tonyv wrote:

 

As for the next one, I only have this:
Flame shines upon Grandma’s last moment

 

No one knows

how much firewood
is
left in her body

as the firewood stored in each person varies.

Her countenance, the way she walks

shows there should be more

She’s burnt out, extinguished, far off our expectation

we haven’t even seen the last flash of light

 

I guess I can't leave 'is' out, can I?

 

tonyv wrote:

 

Would you be willing to share the Chinese versions? (Not that I would be able to read them, but just to see what they look like ...)

 

Yes, I'll put the Chinese version right up by the translation. It's not that I didn't want to attach the original version, it's that I thought no one would bother to read something they didn't understand.

 

Once again, thanks much for your help Tony and for your compliment.

 

Lake

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Hi Aleksandra,

 

The original version is up there. You can see the lines of the English translation are much longer than the Chinese which is more compact.

 

I guess I was not very clear about the difference between Poetry in Your Native Language and Non-English Poetry. I normally don't translate my own stuff, instead, I try to write in two languages.

 

It seems there are good stuffs here, I'll find time to read.

 

Thanks for your help to move this to the right place.

 

Lake

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Lake wrote:

 

Since the original has 'lips and tongue', I guess I have to stick to it. I tried the other way, but it didn't work . Your rewrite is much better. I'll have it changed later.

I wouldn't go so far as to say that it's better. My "anglicized" version, which omits the mention of the lips and tongue, is certainly less colorful, more boring, and hackneyed. I think this could be an example of an instance where the English way of saying something may be more limited than that of another language.

Lake wrote:

 

Yes, I'll put the Chinese version right up by the translation. It's not that I didn't want to attach the original version, it's that I thought no one would bother to read something they didn't understand.

Thank you very much for sharing the original (Chinese) versions. I very much like looking at them and comparing them to the English. As you pointed out to Alek, the poems in Chinese appear considerably more compact in print than they do translated and spelled out in English. I wonder if they are phonetically more compact? I mean, are each of the characters really one "letter" like in the English alphabet, or is each a more complex sound made up of a number of consonants and vowels? I did notice that, on occasion, they repeat (like a double vowel in English) --

发出的笑由水花
一一
表现

And, from the way the lines are justified on the page (at the left margin), I presume that the poems are read from left to right, top to bottom, like in English. Am I correct about this? Someone told me that Japanese (I know that's different, but I presume it's closer to Chinese than English) is written from right to left, bottom to top (on the old scrolls, anyway), but that could certainly be a misconception ...

 

Tony

Here is a link to an index of my works on this site: tonyv's Member Archive topic

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tonyv wrote:

 

I wouldn't go so far as to say that it's better. My "anglicized" version, which omits the mention of the lips and tongue, is certainly less colorful, more boring, and hackneyed. I think this could be an example of an instance where the English way of saying something may be more limited than that of another language.

 

Tony, each language has its own uniqueness. Sometimes, I find I have to use a lot more words to translate some English expressions; other times a short phrase is just enough for a long English expression.

 

tonyv wrote:

 

Thank you very much for sharing the original (Chinese) versions. I very much like looking at them and comparing them to the English. As you pointed out to Alek, the poems in Chinese appear considerably more compact in print than they do translated and spelled out in English. I wonder if they are phonetically more compact? I mean, are each of the characters really one "letter" like in the English alphabet, or is each a more complex sound made up of a number of consonants and vowels?

 

You have a very good question, Tony, which is not easy to answer. icon_smile.gif

To put it short, yes, they are phonetically more compact, too. Each character consists of different strokes and each character stands for one syllable though the sound is made up of a vowel and consonant. The difficult part to learn to pronounce Chinese is its four tones which sometimes may determine which word you are talking about or the meaning of a word. The sound system, unlike that of English, is different from the writing system.

 

tonyv wrote:

 

from the way the lines are justified on the page (at the left margin), I presume that the poems are read from left to right, top to bottom, like in English. Am I correct about this? Someone told me that Japanese (I know that's different, but I presume it's closer to Chinese than English) is written from right to left, bottom to top (on the old scrolls, anyway)

 

The modern Chinese is read from left to right and up and down. In the old times, it was written and read from right to left and, up to down. And it still remains like this on scrolls and for some Chinese calligraphy.

 

This is just a rough picture of the characters, I hope I didn't confuse you more.

 

Thanks for your interest and help.

 

Lake

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Aleksandra

Thank you Lake, now the topic looks better with its own original version of the poem inside. It's complete now.

I was looking forward your replay comment to Tony's comment here, and I am glad that you explained something what I was wondering too. The Chinese language is very interesting and very hard I think.

 

Let me tell you about here something interesting :). If somebody here, knows Chinese, or Japanese language, I mean if somebody learn this, so, educated person for there languages, definitely would find a job in any moment :). So not so many people know this language, not only here I think, but everywhere. I wished I knew this language :).

 

Thank you for sharing the original version Lake.

 

Aleksandra

The poet is a liar who always speaks the truth - Jean Cocteau

History of Macedonia

 

 

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