Classic of Poetry in Chinese

Below are two examples of Chinese text with translations from the University of Virginia's "Shi Jing" page, which differ from the Norton text. I have decided to add the pinyin transliterations (as given by Google Translate) of both Chinese texts for reference, with tone markings. Each poem is written first in hanzi, or Chinese characters, then in pinyin, and finally with the translation from the UVA page.

I. Fishhawk

Here we have the first poem in the Classic of Poetry section of our book. It goes by many titles and many translations, depending on with whom one checks.

關睢 guan sui

關關雎鳩,在河之洲。Osprey on the Umpqua
窈宨淑女,君子好逑。
參差荇菜,左右流之。
窈宨淑女,寤寐求之。
求之不得,寤寐思服。
悠哉悠哉,輾轉反側。
參差荇菜,左右采之。
窈宨淑女,琴瑟友之。
參差荇菜,左右芼之。
窈宨淑女, 鍾鼓樂之。

Guān guān jū jiū, zài hé zhī zhōu.
Yǎo tiǎo shúnǚ, jūnzǐ hǎo qiú.
Cēncī xìng cài, zuǒyòu liú zhī.
Yǎo tiǎo shúnǚ, wù mèi qiú zhī.
Qiúzhībùdé, wù mèi sī fú.
Yōuzāi yōuzāi, zhǎnzhuǎnfǎncè.
Cēncī xìng cài, zuǒyòu cǎi zhī.
Yǎo tiǎo shúnǚ, qínsè youzhī.
Cēncī xìng cài, zuǒyòu mào zhī.
Yǎo tiǎo shúnǚ, zhōng gǔyuè zhī.


Guan-guan go the ospreys,
On the islet in the river.
The modest, retiring, virtuous, young lady: --
For our prince a good mate she.
Here long, there short, is the duckweed,
To the left, to the right, borne about by the current.
The modest, retiring, virtuous, young lady: --
Waking and sleeping, he sought her.
He sought her and found her not,
And waking and sleeping he thought about her.
Long he thought; oh! long and anxiously;
On his side, on his back, he turned, and back again.
Here long, there short, is the duckweed;
On the left, on the right, we gather it.
The modest, retiring, virtuous, young lady: --
With lutes, small and large, let us give her friendly welcome.
Here long, there short, is the duckweed;
On the left, on the right, we cook and present it.
The modest, retiring, virtuous, young lady: --
With bells and drums let us show our delight in her.


Analysis

If we look at the characters above, the pattern can be fairly easily discerned, by comparison with the translation, titled "Fishhawk," on page 814 of the Norton Anthology of World Literature.

The Chinese lines are read left to right, and the spaces in the center correspond to the line breaks, and each two-line pair in the Chinese corresponds to a stanza in the English version.

The first line starts with the same two characters: 關 關. These are the translated words "gwan gwan" or "guan-guan." Furthermore, the title of the poem, 關 睢, is "guan" (關) followed by the third character of the poem "sui" (睢). I imagine this would be loosely translated "Guan Go" or "Guan Sing."

The second line of the poem begins with “窈 宨 淑 女 ,” which is repeated as the first halves of lines 4, 8, and 10. This line is translated “The modest, retiring, virtuous, young lady” below, and “Gentle maiden, pure and fair,” from the Norton text.

The first halves of lines 3, 7, and 9 are “參 差 荇 菜.” This is “Here long, there short, is the duckweed” below and “Watercress grows here and there” in the page 814 version. Also, each of these lines, in their second halves, use “左 右” as the first two characters. These correspond to either “To the left” and “To the right” or “Right and left.”

Lastly, there is the repetition of “寤 寐” to begin the second halves of lines 4 and 5, corresponding to “waking and sleeping” at the beginnings of lines 8 and 10 of the English versions.


XX. Plums Are Falling

摽有梅


摽有梅,其實七兮。
求我庶士,迨其吉兮。
摽有梅,其實三兮。
求我庶士,迨其今兮。
摽有梅,頃筐塈之。
求我庶士,迨其謂之。


piǎo yǒu méi

Piǎo yǒu méi, qíshí qī xī.
Qiú wǒ shù shì, dài qí jí xī.
Piǎo yǒu méi, qíshí sān xī.
Qiú wǒ shù shì, dài qí jīn xī.
Piǎo yǒu méi, qǐng kuāng jì zhī.
Qiú wǒ shù shì, dài qí wèi zhī.

Plum Tree

Dropping are the fruits from the plum-tree;
There are [but] seven [tenths] of them left!
For the gentlemen who seek me,
This is the fortunate time!

Dropping are the fruits from the plum-tree;
There are [but] three [tenths] of them left!
For the gentlemen who seek me,
Now is the time.

Dropt are the fruits from the plum-tree;
In my shallow basket I have collected them.
Would the gentlemen who seek me
[Only] speak about it!



Analysis

“Plums Are Falling” has been included as an example of varying translation. When the English is read from this translation, the poem takes on an entirely different meaning, more in line with our discussion from class, which was somewhat subjective. This translation leaves little to be interpreted.

Interestingly, the title of the poem in the original Chinese, "
摽有梅," or "biāo (piāo) yǒu méi," consists of: "biāo (piāo)," which can mean "to target" or "to bid"; "yǒu," which essentially translates as "to have"; and "méi," which is the word for "plum" or "plums." So the title is more or less "To Bid to Have Plums."

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