Analyzingand Translating the Poem
Poemtranslation differs from one translator to the other. The differencesappear in the way the poets choose their words, the rhythm of thepoem and that of the speech as well as the conflict introduction andthe solution. Some poets prefer to present their works in prose formwhile others present in the poetic form. The essay will discuss thetension created by different translators during a translation of apoem and the ease associated with domesticating the translation.
KingWen`s epithalamium is a translation by Clement Allen in 1891 (Minford79). The translator claims that he had been sent to gather cressesfrom the ait (an island within the river) so that they would give agood welcome to the prince`s bride. He heard the Mallard a type ofbird singing and presumably calling its mate. The persona hopes thatthe singing would be a sign of a good omen to the prince`s love. Heassociates the wooing with the way the prince is searching for abride. It is a good foreshadow.
Forso long the prince had yearned for the bride. He would think of herevery day and night, and she was the source of his delight. However,doubting her love for him gave him anxiety. The anxiety would lead toa sleepless night. As a result, he would toss in bed and would sleepdistressed. Now he has worn her. She is a fair looking lady. She hasa modest mind. The poet and others shall, therefore, celebrate withlutes and music while feasting. So as to show the love we owe ourmaster and his lover (Minford 79).
Fair,fair, cry the Ospreys a translation by Arthur Waley in 1937 (Minford82). The poem starts with an onomatopoeia imitation the cry of theOsprey. The cry is fair! Fair! The Ospreys are on an island in theriver. Then the narrator talks of the noble young lady whom theirLord is in love with. The Water mellow has grown in patches, and onecan go right or left seeking it. The noble lady is shy. The Lordseeks her day and night.
However,he could not get her in as much as he sought her. It mad him togrieve day and night. He would have long, unpleasant thoughts thatwould make him toss in bed. The poet insists about the water mellowsthat grew in patches and that one has to go left and right gatheringit. He also talks about the shyness of the bride. Then they use greatzither to make her happy. The poet repeats about the water mellowsand says that one has to go left and right to choose it in the laststanza. He also talks of the shyness of the lady. Then he says thatthey will also use gongs and drums to gladden her (Minford 82).
Kuan,Kuan is a poem translated by Wong man (Minford 85). The poet beginswith a cry of the Chu`s. The cry is Kuan! Kuan! The word `Chu is anative word referring to a type of a bird. The onomatopoeia is alsoin native form. The bird is on the river`s isle. Then he talks aboutthe virtuous maid from whom a man is seeking love. At the river,there are long and short weeds. When the man goes right or left, hemisses her.
Thevirtuous maid has made the man in love with her to seek her whileawake and asleep. However, his efforts are in vain. He wakes up andsleeps sad and spends long hours tossing with madness. He talks ofthe long and short weeds playing and this time round the man catchesthe virtuous made. They use the lute and string to charm the lady. Hethen holds the virtuous maid. They use the bell and drums to cheerher. The poet has attempted to reproduce the original form of thepoem. It contains similar meter, rhyme, couplet-symmetry and the wordorder. The use of monosyllabic words relates closely to the originalpoem (Minford 85).
Differenttranslators have translated the same poem. All the translators haveapproached the matter differently (Kenesei 83). According to ClementAllen, the persona is taking part in the events. He has been sent tolook for cresses in the river ait when he hears the mallard singing.He hopes that it is a good omen for his prince and his lover. He alsoexplains how the prince was in deep agony seeking the lady and theway he spent sleepless nights. Eventually, the prince manages to getthe lady, and now they are feasting and celebrating as they welcomeher.
Accordingto Arthur and Wong, the poems are in the form of narration and not aconfession like that of Clement. They both begin with onomatopoeiaexpressing how the birds were singing. According to Arthur, the birdsare called Ospreys while Wong refers to them as Chus. On the otherhand, Clement calls them Mallards. To Arthur, the one seeking thelady is a lord, to Clement, he is a prince while to Wong is just aman seeking a lady.All the translators express how the man wooing thelady is troubled and spends sleepless nights. At first, the man seeksthe lady who rejects her but later accepts to offer her hand formarriage. After the acceptance, the people then plan a celebrationwhere they play flutes and feast as they witness the marriage of thebride to the man.
Thereis tension between the rhythm of the poem and the rhythm of thespeech (Kenesei 83). In the poem translated by Arthur in 1937, thereis a repetition of the water mellow growing in patches. However, theaction of seeking it, gathering it and choosing it right and leftgoes hand in hand with the way the bridegroom seeks the lady, getsher and chooses her. The poet also emphasizes that the noble lady isshy. On the other hand, Clement does not have repeated lines for theemphasis. Wong, another translator, repeats the line that the longand short weeds play. However, the persona is not to seek the weed asit is with Arthur. He insists that the bridegroom goes right and leftto seek the maid, he goes right and left to catch and finally to holdher. The translator also emphasizes that the lady in question isvirtuous.
Clementinechooses his diction such that all words are in English, and there isno addition of words in the native language. That way, the poem has aflow of the language and the reader does not struggle with gettingthe words (Millan and Bartina 482). Arthur and Wong use Onomatopoeiato catch the attention of the reader. It comes out better than whenClement says that the mallards woo their lovers. Arthur chooses a lotof repetition but does not use native words too. Wong gives the birdsa native name, Chu. The people unfamiliar with the Chinese wordswould take an interpretation to understand that he is referring to atype of a bird considering that the onomatopoeia is also native.
Clementineapplies a lot of prosaism. His poem is more of prose since there isthe flow of the story. However, the poem is very rhythmic as there isa regular rhyme scheme. He has used his freedom of a poet to ensurethat the rhyme scheme flows with the story (Minford 79). Arthur andWong apply poeticism (Minford 82 and 85). The story is broken by theapplication of the repetition of lines. The repeated lines and wordsbreak the flow of the events happening regarding the bridegroomwooing the bride to be. The poets mix the appearance of the watermellow and the weeds with the qualities of the lady and the wooing ofthe lady. That way, the seeking of the water mellow goes hand in handwith the seeking of the lady, the catching and later choosing her.
Inconclusion, the poems are telling a similar story though they preferusing different words and ways of raising the conflicts and solvingthem. The poets exercise their freedom of diction to get theirmessage known to the readers. Some poets choose informal languagewhile others use formal languages. On the choice of words, someprefer importing the native words for the sake of identifying withthe origin of the poem while others prefer a plain language toenhance the understanding.
Kenesei,Andrea. PoetryTranslation Through Reception and Cognition: The Proof of TranslationIs in the Reading.Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Pub, 2010. Print.
Minford,John. ClassicalChinese Literature: An Anthology of Translations.New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 2000. Print.
Millan,Carmen and Bartina, Francesca. TheRoutledge Handbook of Translation Studies.2013. The Web, Retrieved on December 11, 2015<https://books.google.co.ke/books?id=s-SnQWJLO4EC&pg=PA482&dq=tension+in+poetry+translation&hl=en&sa=X&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=tension%20in%20poetry%20translation&f=false>