Good discussions about three translations of a poem by Li QingZhao

For 2018 Robert Burns meets Chinese New Year night, (Jan 22, 2018), I was asked to prepare for Chinese poetry… So I chose some and asked my friends to share their thoughts, here are some good discussions from one of my friends and poets ( Leslie Yang): The three versions of this poem have their own merits and defects.

尋尋覓覓,冷冷清清, 淒淒慘慘戚戚。
①So dim, so dark,/So dense, so dull,/So damp, so dank,/So dead!
②I look for what I miss; /I know not what it is. /I feel so sad, so drear, /So lonely, without cheer.
许一、二行用相同句式,三、四行用重复句型,且押aabb的韵,体现词人寂苦无告的凄凉心境。遗憾的是“without cheer”略感累赘,未免有凑韵之嫌。
③Lonely and lonesome, bleak and bitter, Deep in dreary thoughts I missed you miserably so.

乍暖還寒時候, 最難將息。 三杯兩盞淡酒, 怎敵他、晚來風急?
①The weather, now warm, now cold, Makes it harder .Than ever to forget! /How can a few cups of thin wine /Bring warmth
against /The chilly winds of sunset?
②How hard is it To keep me fit In this lingering cold! /By cup on cup /Of wine so dry /Oh, how could I /Endure at dusk the drift /
Of wind so swift?
③In a season when warmth could suddenly a chill become, /Unable to rest was a weary soul./ How could light wine of two or three pours / Fend off a rush of wind in the late hours?
原文用反问句式,反诘的口吻写风急引起了词人的哀愁。曾译文为了完整表达,显得冗长,失去了诗歌的精炼,更像散文体。林、许译文保留了反问句式,语气和原文旗鼓相当。“敌”字以“cope with”和“endure”译出,力度则显不足。林巧用介词“against”,取得了异曲同工的效果。

雁過也,正傷心, 卻是舊時相識。
①I recognize the geese flying overhead: My old friends, Bring not the old memories back!
②It breaks my heart, alas, To see the wild geese pass, For they are my acquaintances of old.
③As wild geese flew by, in sorrow I dwelled, /And remembered how I had seen them before.

滿地黃花堆積。 憔悴損、如今有誰堪摘?
①Let fallen flowers lie where they fall./To what purpose/And for whom should I decorate?
②The ground is covered with yellow flowers, /Faded and fallen in showers./Who will pick them up now?
③ On grounds in piles were petals of yellow. /Wilting in grief, who’d these flowers pick?
词人见黄菊花凋零,不堪入目,想到自己身世寥落,无人怜爱不由感慨万千。林的“fallen flowers”过笼统。比较下,许译“yellow flowers”较忠实。曾译文相对简洁也忠于原意。许用“showers”表示黄花堆积,既形象生动又与下句中的“now”押韵,堪称佳译。

守著窗兒, 獨自怎生得黑?
①By the window shut,/Guarding it alone,/To see the sky has turned so black!
②Sitting alone at the window, how/Could I but quicken/ The pace of darkness that won’t thicken?
③By the window I pined, /In solitude how could I while away the day till darkness arrived?
Could I bear alone the sight until it is dark? 词人孤苦一人,冷清寂寞就连熬到天黑都觉不易。《金粟词话》称其“用浅俗之语,发清新之思,词意并工,闺情绝调”。林译是说天色已经变得漆黑,与原词的意境相去甚远。许、曾较好地体现了原词的意境,尤其是许词语的选择和意境的烘托都更胜一筹。

梧桐更兼細雨, 到黃昏、點點滴滴。
①And the drizzle on the kola nut/Keeps on droning:/Pit-a-pat, pit-a-pat!
②On plane’s broad leaves a fine rain drizzles/As twilight grizzles.
③Drizzle through phoenix trees fell, /At twilight, drops and drips dribbled and rolled.
“点点滴滴”写出了秋雨的淅沥绵密。许、曾二人的译文押韵,达到了“音美”,且保留了原文的意境,但说到生动传神当推林译。用“Droning”恰当描绘秋雨的低沉单调;拟声词“Pit-a-pat, pit-a-pat”的运用更令人拍案叫绝,形象地描摹了“点点滴滴”的秋雨。

①Is this the kind of mood and moment /To be expressed
②By one word “sad”? Oh, what can I do with a grief/Beyond belief!
③In fall, how could sorrow possibly spell a melancholy overflow!

结论: 以上三种译文各有所长,堪称大家手笔,当然也存在尚需改进之处。林译于音、形、意上均有顾及,且不乏生动传神之笔,有些地方甚至达到了“青出于蓝而胜于蓝”的境界,但“创译”甚多,需提高忠实性。许通过变通和补偿较好地再现了原文的音美、形美和意美,比较像一首翻译的英文诗。曾译大致体现了原文的形美和音美,不足之处是每行音节过多,而且“阐释”的译法时有所见,缺乏原词的委婉含蓄之美,淡化了诗意。