Learn Chinese Through Poetry
Read Poetry Through Translation


I put this together mainly for my own enjoyment. Of course, it is also my goal to make a small difference in our attempt to study or appreciate classical Chinese poetry and prose. I assume that my readers are primarily those who learn Chinese as a second language, or those whose mother tongue is not Chinese.

Let me be frank, I am neither a scholar of Chinese poetry nor a translator by profession. When it comes to shi and ci poetry, I am but a self-taught learner and late starter. I did not start writing my first “real” poem until four years into retirement. However, I do have a passion for making the study of classical Chinese poetry (and the Chinese language too) easier and less complicated for bilingual students.

I enjoy the bilingual approach to interpreting and translating classical Chinese poetry. The bilingual approach is actually the tool I used to learn the craft of writing shi and ci poems.

I am the first to admit that my translations are far from being perfect. They are certainly not free from misinterpretations, omissions, errors, and personal biases. I encourage you to review them critically. Further, my translations are intended as "reading aids" only. In other words, each of my translations serves only one purpose: To facilitate reading and understanding the original poem, lyric, or essay.

翻译是我研读古典诗词和学习格律诗词写作的工具。我希望这种「双语助读法」能提高年青一辈阅读和欣赏中国古典诗词的兴趣。我不是诗词学者,也不是翻译专家,译文和注释难免有错误和不妥之处,欢迎指正,但请用真姓名。
--- E. C. Chang


  



鵲橋仙


秦觀


纖雲弄巧,飛星傳恨。銀漢迢迢暗度。

金風玉露一相逢,便勝卻、人間無數。


柔情似水,佳期如夢,忍顧鵲橋歸路。

兩情若是久長時,又豈在、朝朝暮暮。

 

Magpie Bridge

(Tune: Que Qiao Xian)

by Qin Guan 

tr. E. C.Chang

Fine clouds show their artistic faces. 

Blinking stars convey their grief in space. 

So wide and dim to go across the Milky Way! 

Meeting once a year in autumn is surely sweeter 

than numerous earthly reunions on any given day.


Their feelings are as tender as water; 

their annual date is like a dream forever. 

On the magpie bridge, how can they bear 

to turn homeward one more time? 

If mutual love will last and never die,

why need to be together day and night?



Song: to Celia [“Drink to me only with thine eyes”]

 

BY BEN JONSON

 

Drink to me only with thine eyes,

         And I will pledge with mine;

Or leave a kiss but in the cup,

         And I’ll not look for wine.

The thirst that from the soul doth rise

         Doth ask a drink divine;

But might I of Jove’s nectar sup,

         I would not change for thine.

 

I sent thee late a rosy wreath,

         Not so much honoring thee

As giving it a hope, that there

         It could not withered be.

But thou thereon didst only breathe,

         And sent’st it back to me;

Since when it grows, and smells, I swear,

         Not of itself, but thee.

 


給西莉雅之歌

瓊森

英譯中:E. C. Chang

 

對飲卿如用眼睛,

我將回敬目光靈。

若留吻在杯中裡,

無酒天天我也行。

乾渴靈魂須潤滑,

一杯神酒甚歡迎。

縱有瓊漿無動我,

不因美酒失傾城。

 

近日送卿花一打,

非關討好是求情。

若然有望能延續,

不讓玫瑰變凋零。

請你給它吹口氣,

送回好讓我心寧。

從今它必清香發,

不為玫瑰是為卿。



情為何物


它是嶺上的雲彩,

海洋上的波光;

青春的翅膀; 

自我的升揚。 


它是醉人的曲調,

靈魂的天窗;

孤獨的回響; 

暴風雨的避風塘。


它是心靈的伴侶,

春園里的花香;

人間的希望;

夢幻的天堂。 


沒有它,

生命就如無花的玫瑰;

無魚的溪水;

無星星作伴的月亮;

無紅霞襯托的朝陽。

(E. C. Chang)


What Is Love? 

Love is the clouds on the mountain peak;

the shining light of waves on the sea;

the youth with two wings;

an ego that keeps rising.

Love is an enchanting melody;

the skylight of the soul;

the echoes in loneliness; 

a storm haven and shelter.

Love is the soul mate of the heart;

the fragrance of spring flowers; 

the hope of mortals;

the paradise for our dreams.

A life without love would be like

a rose bush that will never bloom;

a stream in which no fish will swim;

a moon with no surrounding stars;

a rising sun with no clouds 

upon which to glow brighter. 

(translated by E. C. Chang) 





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