Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Nineteen Ancient Poems - #2 - Anonymous (Chinese)

 The "Nineteen Ancient Poems" are the earliest extant poems in the five-character meter that was the longest lasting form of Chinese poetry.  They date back almost 2000 years, author(s) unknown.  Translations, as I keep repeating, are - at best - like seeing an object through a prism, at least in terms of getting at the essence of the original.  There have been different schools of thought about translating from the Chinese, from rhyming and meter schemes that simulated and emulated the original, to the one below, which attempts to capture some of the rhythm and sing-song repetition in the original.  Over the years, my yard-stick is whether it conveys the overall atmosphere and tone by which our emotional reaction is created.  For me, this one succeeds and that's why it's included: that sorrow and moodiness of a loss observed and felt is a theme that recurs in later Chinese poetry.  Remember: this was written almost 2000 years ago....
Nineteen Ancient Poems - #2

Green, so green is the river grass,
thick so thick are the garden willow’s leaves.
Beautiful, so beautiful is the lady upstairs.,
shining as she stands by the window, shining.
Pretty in her powdered rouge, so pretty
with her slender, slender white hands.
Once she was a singing girl,
but now is the wife of a womanizer.
He travels but rarely comes home.
So hard to sleep in an empty bed.

                                Anonymous – Chinese, Han Dynasty, 206 BCE – 220 CE

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for reading my blog. Please leave your comment and whether you want a response (via email). If you do, please include your email address.