Pound, River-Merchant's Wife

Pound, River-Merchant's Wife - T RANSLATIONS REA DING...

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TRANSLATIONS: READING RIHAKU ( LI BAI aka LI PO [ CE 701 – 762 ] ) Pound's translation of Chinese poetry was maybe the most important thing I read. Eliot a little bit later.” –Robert Morgan 1. THE RIVER-MERCHANT’S WIFE: A LETTER Translated by Ezra Pound, 1915 While my hair was still cut straight across my forehead I played about the front gate, pulling flowers. You came by on bamboo stilts, playing horse, You walked about my seat, playing with blue plums. And we went on living in the village of Chokan: Two small people, without dislike or suspicion. At fourteen I married My Lord you. I never laughed, being bashful. Lowering my head, I looked at the wall. Called to, a thousand times, I never looked back. At fifteen I stopped scowling, I desired my dust to be mingled with yours Forever and forever, and forever. Why should I climb the look-out? At sixteen you departed, You went into far Ku-to-yen, by the river of swirling eddies, And you have been gone five months. The monkeys make sorrowful noise overhead. You dragged your feet when you went out. By the gate now, the moss is grown, the different mosses, Too deep to clear them away! The leaves fall early this autumn, in wind. The paired butterflies are already yellow with August Over the grass in the West garden, They hurt me. I grow older, If you are coming down through the narrows of the river Kiang, Please let me know beforehand, And I will come out to meet you As far as Cho-fu-Sa. Question: Make explicit what is implicit: state in one sentence what the speaker is implying through the tone, images and narration. What is gained by the speaker’s restraint? According to J. H. Prynne, we infer that the above translation by Ezra Pound ( left ) is from the Cathay printing (London 6 April 1915), reprinted in Collected Shorter Poems (London 1952), 140-41, because the CSP text shows significant variants, particularly in lining (Lines 25-6, as above, become one line, as in the Pers text, p. 134, but not in Poems and Translations , ed. Sieburth, p. 252). (Of course, you can leave Prynne and visit textetc.com—“Translating Li Bai”— for further commentary on the Pound translation. However, first skim over Prynne, noting the highlighted sentences, and compare Pound with another translation or two.)
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2 “The best thing on translation was said by Cervantes: translation is the other side of a tapestry.” —Leonardo Sciascia Prynne kindly gives us some research ideas: For other early English translations see Amy Lowell (with Florence Ayscough), Fir-Flower Tablets (London, 1921), pp. 28-9 ( Complete Two Poetical Works , ed. L. Untermeyer [Boston 1955], p. 335); Witter Bynner, The Jade Mountain (1929) ( The Chinese Translations [New York, 1978], pp. 113-4). Pound made this translation from ‘Rihaku’ (Li Bai) from the annotated transcriptions made by Ernest Fenollosa. For a brief summary of this process, see K. K. Ruthven, A Guide to Ezra Pound’s ‘Personae’ (1926) (Berkeley & Los Angeles, 1969), p. 222 (His notes on the text are on pp. 205-6), and, more fully, Sanehide Kodama, Amer- ican Poetry and Japanese Culture (Hamden, Conn., 1984), Chap. 3; Zhaoming Qian, Orientalism
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