Today’s translation exercise is the poem 《再别康桥》 by 徐志摩 (Xu Zhimo). It has been recommended by Bo and I think it is a good choice since the language is tricky but not overly obscure or classical.
All translations are welcome and, of course, I will give detailed feedback for all of them! A pinyin-annotated version is also supplied at the bottom.
Qīngqīng de wǒ zǒule, zhèngrú wǒ qīngqīng de lái;
Wǒ qīngqīng de zhāoshǒu, zuòbié xītiān de yúncai.
Nà hépàn de jīn liǔ, shì xīyáng zhōng de xīnniáng;
Bōguāng lǐ de yàn yǐng, zài wǒ de xīntóu dàngyàng
Ruǎnní shàng de qīng xìng, yóu yóu de zài shuǐdǐ zhāoyáo;
Zài kāng hé de róu bō lǐ, wǒ gānxīn zuò yītiáo shuǐcǎo!
Nà yú yìn xià de yī tán, bùshì qīngquán,
Shì tiānshàng hóng róusuì zài fúzǎo jiān, chéndiàn zhe cǎihóng shìde mèng.
Xúnmèng? Chēng yī zhī zhǎng gāo, xiàng qīngcǎo gèng qīng chù màn sù,
Mǎnzǎi yī chuán xīng huī, zài xīng huī bānlán lǐ fànggē.
Dàn wǒ bùnéng fànggē, qiāoqiāo shì biélí de shēngxiāo;
Xiàchóng yě wèi wǒ chénmò, chénmò shì jīn wǎn de kāngqiáo.
Qiāoqiāo de wǒ zǒule, zhèngrú wǒ qiāoqiāo de lái;
Wǒ huī yī huī yī xiù, bù dàizǒu yī piàn yúncai.
10 Comments to "Translation Challenge: 再别康桥 by 徐志摩"
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Giving this a shot.
With gentle steps I leave,
Just as gently I came.
I give a gentle wave in farewell
To the iridescent cloud in the west.
The willow of gold there at the river’s side
Is a bride in the waning sun;
Her likeness resplendent in the shimmering water
Is a ripple in the deeps of my heart.
The water lilies on the silt
Sways relaxedly in the water;
In the silky waves of Cambridge,
I would willingly be a water plant.
That pool there in the shade of the elms
Is not water, but a rainbow of the sky;
Crushed and broken amidst the weeds
Are the dregs of rainbowlike dreams.
Seeking dreams? Raise a pole and go freely
Upstream where the grass grows greener;
Load the boat full with the splendour of the stars,
And in that starlight break into song.
But I cannot break into song,
The quiet is my parting lyric.
Summer bugs, too, keep silence for me,
Silence is tonight’s Cambridge.
With quiet steps I leave,
Just as quietly I came;
I give a flick of my sleeve,
Carrying away not a whiff of the cloud.
This is my first try translating poetry. I was rather confused about the water grass. Is “roving through searching for a strand of water grass” closer to the meaning?
Farewell River Cam
By Xu Zhi Mo
Softly I leave even as I softly came;
I softly beckon with my hand, a farewell to the colorful clouds of the Western Paradise.
Yonder golden willows on the riverbank are the brides of a golden sunset;
The brilliant shadows in waves of light are my heart’s lustful envies.
The soft clay of floating hearts, ostentatious in the luxuriant water depths;
In the soft waves of the River Cam, my glad heart becomes a water grass.
The pond below the shady elms is not a clear spring;
It’s heaven’s rainbow twisting into broken pieces in a room of floating water plants,
Sediments of the rainbow seeming like dreams
Searching for dreams? Unfurl a banner towards the greener grasses upstream;
Fill the ship with brilliant stars and in the star’s brilliance sing out.
But, I cannot sing out so I silently leave the flute and pipe;
Even the insects of summer are silent before me,
The night is silent tonight on the River Cam.
Silently I go even as I silently came;
I wave the sleeves of my garments, taking no piece of the colorful clouds
I had the most trouble with the rainbow simile.
I left softly, and softly I return;
I beckon softly, taking leave of the clouds in the eastern sky.
The golden willows on the riverbank are new brides of the setting sun;
Their reflection in the river ripples in my heart.
Seaweed, in the soft mud, swaggers on the riverbed;
I’d be a strand of seaweed in the Kang River’s gentle waves!
That pool beneath the elm is no clear spring,
It’s a rainbow crumpled among the algae, dregs of rainbow-like dreams.
Seeking a dream? Raise a pole, float to greener grasses,
Load a boat with starlight, and sing amidst the radiance.
But I do not sing, for quiet is the music of parting;
The summer insects keep silent for me, tonight’s Kang Bridge is silent.
I left quietly, and quietly I return;
I flick my sleeves and leave the clouds behind.
softly I take my leave,
as softly as the way I came.
Quietly I wave goodbye
to the clouds up in western sky.
The glowing willows along the banks
seem as brides standing in the setting suns.
The reflection mirrored in the shimmering water
ripples on deep in my heart hither and thither.
The float grass on the dirt
Stretches themselves in the river.
Were I a blade of grass In the Cambridge wave of serenity,
Much pleasing and joyous it would be.
That pool in the shade of the elms
Holds not water but a rainbow from the upper realm
Shattered and blended with duckweeds
Brewing a wonderful story as a dream.
Seeking dreams? Just push pole a rowboat upstream
To where the green grass is greener(to where the green grass is verdant)
Singing amidst the splendour of a myriad of stars.
But quietness is my farewell tonight,
even the insects of summer made a compromise.
Silence reigns all over Cambridge this night.
Softly I leave as I softly I came
Gently I flick my sleeves
Left behind everything the same.
My first proper attempt at translating poetry, and then again it was rather more: understand, superimpose some kind of interpretation, and re-write in English.
Softly am I now departing,
Just as softly as I had come;
Waving gentle parting to the
Clouded heights of the Western Heav’n.
Those golden willows on the Backs,
In the sunset make up the bride.
Visions of the streaming light still
Resonate, within me, inside.
The waterlilies from the silt
Put on a sleek display, immersed.
Ah, would that I were a piece of
Duckweed rippling upon the Cam!
Now under the shade of the elms
Is a deep pool – not a clear spring,
But the sky’s rainbows, crushed into algae.
Their residue sinks, just as a dream.
Yet chasing? Get yourself a pole,
To ever greener grasses glide up.
Soak in the glamour of punting,
Serenade yourself beneath the stars.
But I cannot raise my voice to sing;
My wind band plays a silent farewell.
Even summer’s bugs go still for me;
Still is the Cambridge of tonight.
Quiet am I now departing,
Just as quiet as I had come;
I give the sleeves of my gown a flick,
And leave without a cut of cloud.
sorry forgot the title, i wanna use “goodbye or farewell again,Cambridge”since this was the second time the poet left Cam. I intend to make it rhyms.but “信.达.雅”are the essence of translation,which is the barrier we need to breakthrough
Thanks everyone for your beautiful translations.
Here’s my attempt:
Waving goodbye, once more, to Cambridge
I depart lightly, as lightly as I came
And with a slip of the hand
Bid farewell to these Western clouds.
That golden Salix by the river bank
That setting sun’s bride
Its resplendent shimmer
Leaves a ripple in my mind.
How I wish to be a water weed at the bottom of Cambridge River!
In the depths of the ooze
The Nymphoides thrive splendidly.
The pool beneath the elm is not a spring
But remnants of a shattered rainbow
It had smashed to pieces
And left sediments of floating algae.
What is dream-seeking
But the propping up of a harbour pole?
In the midst of overflowing emerald grass–
In a boat filled to capacity–
How I’d like to sing!
But sing, I cannot
To depart quietly, I must.
Though the bamboo flute plays on
The summer bugs are silent to me
Is how I found Cambridge tonight.
I depart lightly, as lightly as I came
And with a waving sleeve
Remove not one slice of cloud.
Gently i leave, just as gently i came.
I gently wave goodbye, and farewell clouds of the western sky.
The golden willow by the riverside, is in the setting sun the bride.
She shimmers in the water, stirring up ripples in my heart.
The green plant on the silt, wave gently in the water.
In the gentle wave of Cambridge’s river, i would willingly be a weed.
Beneath the shadowing elm, there is no pool nor spring,
Only the rainbow crushed amidst the weeds, sank deep and became rainbowlike dreams.
Search, for dream? Raise a pole.
Go upstream, where green grass grows greener.
Load your boat with starlight, and in the glowing spendour sing.
But sing i cannot, for silence is my parting music.
The summer bugs too, for me keep silent, silent is tonight’s Cambridge.
Silently i go, just as silently i came.
Silently i flick my sleeves, from the clouds remove not a single slice.
poetry translation is always the more the merrier. Thanks! I am contemplating a new translation ( English –> Chinese) of John Masefield’s poem “On Reading ‘The Bridge to Heaven'” ( Oct. 15th, 1942 ) . One fair translation was done by a famed Chinese translator in 2012.
BBC Radio 3 has recently done a programme on this poem (broadcast Saturday 30th June 2012): http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01k9s9g/Between_the_Ears_Between_the_Ears_Saying_Goodbye_Again_and_Again/