Translation of Classical Chinese Poetry into English
China is one of the world’s earliest and most developed countries of poetry. From the “book of songs” till time now, poetry occupied a very important position throughout these three thousand years of literature. Poetry is the soul of literature, is the most refined art form.
Excellent classical poetry highly concentrated and reflected life, passion intense, language refined and rhythm bright. Classical poetry translate into English has a long history. Guo Moruo put forward “poems translation poetry” and Mr. Wen Yiduo said “to pen poetry translation”, became the criterion of poetry translation. (Feng Qinghua, 2002:216).
The most important element in poems are the thoughts and feelings, artistic conception image, sound、 rhythm and stylistic. English translation of ancient Chinese poetry should also focus on these aspects to grasp.
Artistic beauty reproduction of the original poem
All literary arts are specific vivid art to reflect social life. The artistic image of a poem, is a poet deep understanding on the basis of social reality, through the highly centralized and summarized to form, is of the poet’s emotional materialized and is the poet’s subjective feeling. Therefore, the artistic image is the essence of poetry.
When translating, it has to use visual translation technique, try to translate the atheistic beauty of the original poem so that reproduce the aesthetic meaning of artistic image and artistic conception of the source language.
In ancient Chinese poetry, poems that describe nature beauty hold quite a big component. Through vivid image, shaping the artistic conception in them, the poet also hopes to contain his own feelings as well as ideas. Such as Liu Zongyuan’s “JiangXue” ：
This poem is in his exiled period, because official disappointed, the poet boredom associated with depression. The poem only twelve words, but he have painted with concise, simple text outline a portrait of ink painting “寒江独钓图”. Put this picture slowly unfolds, the first view is the sprawling mountain peaks, endless pure and silence between the sky and the earth.
Continue to unfold, in the vast space between the sky and the earth, a boat and a black shadow, only wearing a suit of hemp fiber and a rain hat, facing the white river, leisurely fishing. Finally, landscapes, figures fleshed out, the readers can realize the artistic conception in this poem: the poet express his feelings of lofty on this special fishing man, he represents himself.
When translating this poem, the image of the whole poem can translate directly with complete sentence structure, to stress the outstanding and artistic emotion of the poem. Zhang Yanchen and Wei Bosi translated as follow:
River in the snow.
Over a thousand mountains the winging birds have disappeared,
Throughout ten thousand paths, no trace of human kind.
In a solitary boat,
Straw hat and cape,
An old man fishes alone—
Cold river in the snow.
The translation translated“千山” as “a thousand mountains” and“万径”as “ten thousand paths”, “孤舟”as “solitary boat” . These are the one-to-one image translation, translation of the last two sentences character portrayal, the translator uses the method of his own and make the two sentences dismantle became four lines, stressing the words“孤舟”“蓑笠翁”“独钓”, which the poet rewriter prominent intentions were displayed out.
The use of the dash, leading and emphasizing the last line “Cold river in the snow” with the title echo from each other, is “make the finishing point” sentence of the poem. This sentence expressed the fisherman’s loftiness and aloof spiritual realm. Reproducing the beauty of artistic conception of the original poem as well as reflecting the vivid image arts of original poem.
Read Also: Literal Translation VS Chinese Ancient Poem
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