ForumsArt, Music, and WritingThe Moon Stil Rises (Parsat's Writings and Translations)

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Parsat
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Since portfolios are a tradition around here, I guess I'll start this one of my own.

One of my hobbies is reading and translating Ancient Chinese poetry. There's a major challenge in that classical Chinese may take only 3-5 characters to express a major idea. Therefore, in Chinese what is meant and interpreted is much more important than what is actually written. It's this challenge that has sustained the memory of these poems for so long.

Feelings on Watching the Moon
Bai Juyi

Hard times and famine render fields bare,
And my brothers have scattered everywhere.
Those gardens few by war were razed,
My kin wander on beaten roads, dazed
Like forsaken geese, by shadows only are we bound,
Or like the tree, by September's gust uprooted from the ground.
We see the same moon, and hot tears run;
With our prayers for home five places become one.

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Strop
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Not only that, but you're also forming meter and verse with the translation. That's an ambitious pursuit.

thisisnotanalt
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It's an interesting hobby. And like Strop said, the translation must be difficult - forming the meter and verse from a syntactical language from a symbolic one, when there are grammar differences and other ones. But I like the result.

nichodemus
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Well Parsat....just a request. Can I have the Chinese poem before translation? Or if you can't, Han Yu Pin Yin will do.
Just post a link in my profile.

only 3-5 characters to express a major idea


Agreed, it drives me nuts sometimes.
Especially when my teacher insists we memorise them and then recite it >_>
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OMG, that's my fav Chinese poem ^^ Though it sounds much better in the original Chinese form...Bai Juyi is really a master ^^

grammar differences

In Chinese, there is actually NO gramamr ^^
Parsat
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You mean punctuation. Every language must have some sort of grammatical order, but classical Chinese didn't have punctuation.

This following poem is probably the most well-known poem of the Tang Dynasty.

Thoughts in the Night
Li Bai

Before my bed the moonbeams bound
Across the floor as white as frost.
I look up to the moon, so full and round,
But look down as I think of my hometown lost.

Parsat
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The Deer Enclosure
Wang Wei

In mountains bare, I saw no one,
But the voice of man I heard across.
Through thick forests pierce the sun,
Its rays landing on green moss.

nichodemus
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Li Bai ^^

True master, great poet...He's got ten-fold the literacy abilities of Shakespeare and Dickens put together. ^^

Pity AG doesn't do Chinese characters....well yes you CAN do Han Yu Pin Yin, but it's screwed when you can't type in the symbols for pronounciation....

Nice Example:

Cao. Would it mean noisy? Or intercourse without the appropriate accompanying symbols ^^

Parsat
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Noisy is Chao; the curse word is Cao. As for the Hanyu Pinyin, it all depends on the context then.

This one is another famous one by Li Bai. In the third Pirates of the Caribbean movie, Chow Yun-Fat's character recites some of this poem in Cantonese.

Moon of the Mountain Pass
Li Bai

The moon rises over peak and to the sky
Past the horizon, to the limits of the eye;
The wind, nomad of miles ten thousand,
Beats Jade Pass where the fort defends.
Chinese soldiers hike down Baideng Way,
As barbarians peek over, gazing at the bay.
Not one army in the history of man
Returned with all the men that it began.
The soldiers look towards the borderline
Bitterly wishing for home, that they might resign,
And thinking of those in high pavilions lying
Without rest, tossing and turning, sighing and crying.

nichodemus
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Noisy is Chao; the curse word is Cao.


Either way...I fail at Han Yu Pin Yin.
Parsat
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Nich: Is your family from the mainland or from Taiwan, out of curiosity?

Gantic
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"Thoughts in the Night" seems to lack that sense of homesickness in the cadence. I'm not sure. I can read pauses into it, but it doesn't feel the same.

but it's screwed when you can't type in the symbols for pronounciation....


You could always use numbers
1 -
2 /
3 v
4 \\
5 neutral tone

So:

da1 is to build or to ride, as in da1 che1 (ride the bus/car/vehicle)
da2 is to answer or to reply, as in da2 wo3 (answer me)
da3 is hit.
da4 is big.
Parsat
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"Thoughts in the Night" seems to lack that sense of homesickness in the cadence. I'm not sure. I can read pauses into it, but it doesn't feel the same.


I think so too...but that's the challenge. A translation will always be flawed. I think I might be able to improve it, but I'll need to think about it. I started with iambic tetrameter, but I couldn't figure out how to extend it in the later two. Since the original was 5 syllables, I might arrange it in pentameter.

I didn't know you understood Chinese, Gantic. I have to say, this is awesome.
Parsat
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The poet wrote two different poems with the same name, so I have translated both of them and put them as stanzas in this one poem. The first stanza is the more popular; the second one is not as well known. I have followed the original rhyming scheme, but the cadences of Chinese are near impossible to duplicate in English due to the vast differences between the two.

Rural Compassion
Li Shen

On burning noons the farmer tills,
Upon the ground, sweat drops and spills;
Whoever should eat his hard-earned rice,
Remember his toil and his skills.

In spring the farmer sows one seed,
By fall he gains ten thousandfold.
But if there was no fallow land
Still he would starve, die in the cold.

dudeguy45
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I like these poems. They are so true.

nichodemus
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Gantic, there's no neutral tone. But yeah, using numbers is cool.


da2 wo3


Technically that was wrong. Should be. Qing2 gei3 wo3 ge4 da2 an4.
Gantic
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Gantic, there's no neutral tone.


Neutral tone is what's usually on the second character of a two-character phrase speakers are predisposed to use (i.e. no tone mark), like in kuai kuai, man man, or shen me.

Technically that was wrong. Should be. Qing2 gei3 wo3 ge4 da2 an4.


Even though I learned it formally, I don't speak it formally because not that any people primarily speak Mandarin here. It's improper but I'm more exposed to colloquial dialects.

the cadences of Chinese are near impossible to duplicate in English due to the vast differences between the two.


This might be due to the fact that Chinese does no have the stresses as English does, which is one cause of the Chinglish accent.

Excellent choice as to which one goes first. The second reinforces the first.
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