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1 (edited by LaoChaGui 2008-12-08 12:16:16)

Topic: "Seeing off the Mountain Man Lù Hóngzhè (Lù Yǔ) to Pick Tea"

"Seeing off the Mountain Man Lù Hóngzhè (Lù Yǔ) to Pick Tea"
by Huángfǔ Zēng of the Táng Dynasty

Thousands of peaks await this recluse,
Fragrant tea bushes bud and grow thick;

For picking, he knows the deepest places,
I envy his solitary journey through glowing morning mists;

His remote destination a distant mountain temple,
Supping in the wilderness, the spring water clear;

Loneliness pervades, I light a lamp at night,
And yearning for his company, sound the stone chime once.

  I wanted to translate this poem without looking at other English works, which I did. After finishing my first draft I had a glance at the translation here
If you scroll to the bottom, you can see the translation by Martin Tai titled "Saw Luk Yu off to Pick Tea "
When I read his translation I realized I had not made sense of the envy in the 4th line and the first part of the fifth line. There (generally) are no pronouns in Classical Chinese poems. The language is so terse, that subject and object must often be assumed. The Sage, Lù Yǔ, is referred to once in the first line as the 逋客 būkè, literally: fleeing guest; or more properly: recluse. Therefore, in my translation as well as the translation I consulted all pronouns are guesses. The main difference between the two translations is that in Martin's translation, the writer meets Lù Yǔ at the distant temple in the second half of the poem. However, in the 7th line the night is lonely. In the 4th line, the author envies Lù Yǔ's solitary journey. Lastly in the eighth line the expression 相思 xiāngsī is used. Xiāngsī is a loaded expression, Wang Wei made it famous with his poem of the same title (original poem reproduced at the end of this post). It basically means thinking of each other, it is often a heart-rending yearning for one's home town, or ancestral home. It can also be used in the sense of friends or lovers missing each other. In conclusion, I think this poem makes a little more sense if the author sends Lù Yǔ off and then goes home to think about him.

Which is not to say my translation is better. One of the best things about translating a Chinese poem into English is that because the languages are so different -- English so demanding in terms of tense, subject & object, part of speech, etc; and Classical Chinese so terse -- that these two translations can both be accurate even though they are quite different in some senses.

送陆鸿浙山人采茶   唐 皇甫 曾

Sòng Lù Hóngzhè shànrén cǎichá Táng Huángfǔ Zēng

千峰待逋客,香茗复丛生。
qiānfēng dàibūkè, xiāngmíng fùcóngshēng
采摘知深处,烟霞羡独行。
cǎizhāi zhīshènchù, yānxiá xiàndúxíng
幽期山寺远,野饭石泉清。
yōuqī shānsìyuǎn,yéfàn shíquánqīng
寂寂燃灯夜,相思一磬声。
jìjì rándēngyè xiāngsī yīqìngshēng

相思 唐 王维
红豆生南国,
春来发几枝。
愿君多采撷,
此物最相思

红焙浅瓯新火活,龙团小碾斗晴窗

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2 (edited by william 2008-12-05 22:14:43)

Re: "Seeing off the Mountain Man Lù Hóngzhè (Lù Yǔ) to Pick Tea"

LaoChaGui wrote:

"Seeing off the Mountain Man Lù Hóngzhè (Lù Yǔ) to Pick Tea"
by Huáng Fǔzēng of the Táng Dynasty

One thousand peaks await this recluse,

Read through this one with my language exchange partner the other day... he finds the poems much more interesting than the boring dialogs in my Mandarin textbook, though the poems are mostly a little over my head.

He mentioned that since it's not "yī qiān", it could be translated as "thousands of peaks" (or something along those lines), rather than just "one thousand".

He also said he thought that the author's family name was a two character one, more common back then than now, so it might be Huángfǔ Zēng (cēng?), rather than Huáng Fǔzēng. My other friend thought that also sounded plausible.

The untranslated stuff (w/o pinyin) below isn't part of the same poem, right?

We had an interesting discussion on what a 磬 (stone chime) looks like. He thinks maybe something like the middle row in this picture:
http://www.hb.xinhuanet.com/photo/2008-08/20/xin_13308052011426092519825.jpg

(from http://www.hb.xinhuanet.com/photo/2008- … 75376.htm)

We also talked about the connotations of "mountain man" in English (makes me imagine a wild, rough guy with a thick neck beard), vs. 山人 in Chinese. My friend says it's something roughly comparable to Thoreau - an intellectual, well educated person out in nature, seeking solitude, but not necessarily antisocial or a hermit. I like the use of "recluse" in the translation. I feel like there's another good English word for that kind of person, but I can't really think of it right now.

ps - We both agreed that your translation is much better than the other one. :>


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Re: "Seeing off the Mountain Man Lù Hóngzhè (Lù Yǔ) to Pick Tea"

william wrote:

He mentioned that since it's not "yī qiān", it could be translated as "thousands of peaks" (or something along those lines), rather than just "one thousand".

I think I might edit my original post. In school we learned 千 and  万 often are translated 'myriad' when it's not refering to a specific figure.

william wrote:

He also said he thought that the author's family name was a two character one, more common back then than now, so it might be Huángfǔ Zēng (cēng?), rather than Huáng Fǔzēng. My other friend thought that also sounded plausible.

You're right about that 复姓/double surname. I will change that too.

william wrote:

The untranslated stuff (w/o pinyin) below isn't part of the same poem, right?

That is the poem by Wang Wei whence the "xiangsi"/相思 comes.

william wrote:

ps - We both agreed that your translation is much better than the other one. :>

Thanks :) I'm flattered! It's nice to share poetry like this with others. Thank you and your language exchange partner for your feedback.

红焙浅瓯新火活,龙团小碾斗晴窗