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Picture of BobHale
posted
I don't know whether I ever did this before. It's possible but the old memory ain't what it used to be. I don't even remember what exactly it used to be.

Anyway, I'd like to post two different translations of the same short Chinese poem. What I'd like to know is which do you prefer. Obviously I am not asking which is the better translation as none of us here is competent to comment on that. All I'd like to know is which of the two English versions you think is better. You will, if you look, find many other translations on the internet. These two are from books that I have. I won't give my opinion until others have commented.

From hill to hill, no bird in flight
From path to path, no man in sight
A straw-cloak'd man in a boat. Lo!
Fishing on a river, clad in snow.

and

A thousand mountains. Flying birds vanish.
Ten thousand paths. Human traces erased.
One boat, bamboo hat, bark cape - an old man
alone, angling in the cold river. Snow.

Which do you prefer?


"No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money." Samuel Johnson.
 
Posts: 9421 | Location: EnglandReply With QuoteReport This Post
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An interesting question.

It's almost a matter of whether you prefer your art Representational or Impressionistic.

Personally I like my poetry structured, with meter and rhyme - you can see that in my limericks, to give a trivial example. So I like the first version better, at least on this reading, at this moment. But the other approach has merit, also, in a different mood.

De gustibus, and all that. Your results may vary, as may mine at another time.
 
Posts: 6273 | Location: Worcester, MA, USReply With QuoteReport This Post
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Picture of BobHale
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Might as well give my own opinion, I suppose. As a bit of a dabbler in poetry myself, I vastly prefer the second one. It evokes a sense of the time and place in very few words but not one of them wasted or without point. The first, by comparison looks like it was dashed off in two minutes by a junior versifier for a Hallmark greetings card. To me the second one is poetry and the first is doggerel. Incidentally I am assured by Chinese colleagues that the original, like much traditional Chinese poetry, is much closer in tone and mood to the second translation. That's by the by though as I was asking only about the merits of the English versions not the merits of the translation.


"No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money." Samuel Johnson.
 
Posts: 9421 | Location: EnglandReply With QuoteReport This Post
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