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Five Translated Eileen Chong Poems

1 February 2018

Elementary Chinese

Fire hung on a nail makes a lamp;
two moons, a friend.
A thing that is not bark is a glass;
two trees, a wood; three trees, a forest.
Ten mouths make a leaf,
a ladybird is a worm that floats.
A woman with a horse is a mother,
a bird wearing armour is a duck.
A fish needs three drops of water.
The sea: a mother wearing a hat
by the waves.
Thought is composed of strength
from a tree, clear sight, and anchored
by a heart.

版本一 (Version 1)

基础汉语

火挂钉上,是灯;
两轮弯月,是朋。
无木之物,是杯;
双木即林,三木即森。
十口成叶,
随风飘荡的是瓢虫。
女牵马为妈,
鸟戴盔甲为鸭。
鱼得水为渔。
海,
是戴着帽子的母亲,
站在浪边。
想,
是树木的力量
清澈的目光
憩息在心上。

Translators’ note:

此诗节奏明快,韵律丰富,如童谣般纯真有趣。虽是关于基础汉字,却蕴含深刻哲理。诗的意象简洁鲜明,生动地体现了汉字的趣味和奥秘。其特别之处还在于不同读者会有截然不同的阅读体验。对于不懂汉语的读者,此诗或许如谜语一般,然而对于懂汉语的读者,却是一目了然。当决定把诗题直译为《基础汉语》时,译诗的基调便已悄然形成。翻译在结构和内容上尽可能地忠实原诗,保留原诗的意象和语言特点,同时贴近原诗的节奏和韵律,力求音、形、意之美。然而译诗为翻译之最难,往往难以面面俱到,不足之处在所难免,还请读者见谅。
何文慧

翻译: 何文慧 (Translated by Wenhui He, Steven Langsford and Jiana Zhu)


版本二 (Version 2)

咬文嚼字

星火如丁,照人成灯
友如明月,对影成双
琉璃非木能制
树林独木难成
十口成叶 七星成虫
马在侧 女为母
甲加身 鸟成鸭
渔者当入水捕鱼 乘风破浪
人母当以爱为冕 宽容似海
以木为力,以眼为炬,以心为锚,方成思想。

Translators’ note:

For someone who doesn’t understand Chinese characters, the original poem is mysterious, and therein lies its beauty. It describes how the separate components, or radicals, of the characters come together to create new meaning. For example, the character for ‘thought’ is composed of the radicals for ‘tree’, ‘eye’ and ‘heart’. However the internal logic of characters is common knowledge for any native Chinese speaker, and so to translate this poem literally would not capture the sense of fascination and enigma that Chinese characters elicit for one who doesn’t understand them. With this in mind, we took quite a free approach and turned this poem into a riddle—the Chinese reader has to puzzle out the meaning contained in each line—as we felt that this element of mystery was important to capture in translation.

翻译: (Translated by Annie Drahos and Jinghai Chao)

 


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