Translating Modern Chinese Poetry

by on Thursday, 23 December 2010 Comments

Jessica Marinaccio is a masters student reading Chinese Literature at National Taiwan University as well as the English Secretary at the Academia Sinica. In this video she talks about her thesis, which details the circumstances of the first anthology of modern Chinese poetry translated into English.

For readers in mainland China:

Interview and video editing by Conor Stuart

Jessica also provided us with her favourite poem and her favourite poem in translation:

 

Favorite poem in translation:

The Autumnal Window (秋窗) by Bian Zhilin (卞之琳)

 

Like a man in middle-age

I look back on the traces of the past,

Blank desert after desert at each step,

Waking out of a disconcerting dream

To hear the crows of evening over half the sky.

 

The sunset on grey walls

Reminds me of a consumptive

Who images the rosy cheeks of youth

In the faint twilight of an ancient mirror.

 

(Chinese original here)

 

Favorite poem in Chinese:

 

何其芳《古城》

 

有客從塞外歸來,

說長城像一大隊奔馬

正當舉頸怒號時變成石頭了。

(受了誰的魔法,誰的詛咒!)

蹄下的衰草年年抽新芽。

古代單于的靈魂已安睡在胡沙裏,

遠戍的白骨也沒有怨嗟……

 

但長城攔不住胡沙

和著塞外的大漠風

吹來這古城中,

吹湖水成冰,樹木搖落,

搖落浪遊人的心。

 

 

深夜踏過白石橋

去摸太液池邊的白石碑。

以後逢人便問人字柳

到底在哪兒呢,無人理會。

悲這是故國遂欲走了,

又停留,想眼前有一座高樓,

在危闌上憑倚……

 

墜下地了

黃色的槐花,傷感的淚。

邯鄲逆旅的枕頭上

一個幽暗的短夢

使我嘗盡了一生的哀樂。

聽驚怯的夢的門戶遠閉,

留下長長的冷夜凝結在地殼上。

地殼早已僵死了,

僅存幾條微顫的動脈,

問或,遠遠的鐵軌的震動。

 

逃呵,逃到更荒涼的城中,

黃昏上廢圮的城堞遠望,

更加局促於這北方的天地。

說是平地裏一聲雷響,

泰山:纏上雲霧間的十八盤

也像是絕望的姿勢,絕望的叫喊。

(受了誰的詛咒,誰的魔法!)

望不見落日裏黃河的船帆,

望不見海上的三神山……

 

悲世界如此狹小又逃回

這古城。風又吹湖冰成水。

長夏裏古柏樹下

又有人圍著桌子喝茶。

 

 

Jessica Marinaccio

I am currently studying a Masters in Chinese Literature at NTU and working as an English Secretary at the Academia Sinica. My field of expertise (and I am an expert) is Modern Chinese Poetry since the beginning of the 20th Century

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