So nobody at all commented on the last translation, which is just fucking lame. How much effort does it take to fire up the comment box and leave a message saying “nice translation,” or “what a shite translation,” or even something totally irrelevant like “so this one time, my cousin got a chemistry set and set all his ass hairs on fire in a freak potassium explosion?” I mean, really.
Anyway, even though you woeful ass-munches don’t deserve it, here’s the second poem in Ouyang Xiu’s 采桑子 series, with some notes at the end.
欧阳修: 采桑子 (2)
Ouyang Xiu: “To the tune of ‘The Mulberry-Picking Boy'”
Deep spring, the rains over: the beautiful West Lake.
A hundred flora vie in glamor;
Butterflies flutter and bumblebees murmur;
The clear sun urges flowers on to burst forth into bloom.
With orchid oars, a pleasure-barge rows lazily along.
You’d take it for a crowd of immortals
Glinting in among the waves.
Across wide waters, the high wind lifts a reedy tune.
So I was originally going to try to translate the entire 10-poem “Mulberry-Picking Boy” cycle as rhyming verse, but that just broke down here. What, besides “portals,” “mortals,” and “chortles,” rhymes with “immortals?”
I translate 卉 huì as “flora” because “grasses,” a more literal translation, just sounded weird. If anyone can think of a better old-fashioned-sounding word for “grasses and plants,” please suggest it.
Interestingly, 画 huà (“to paint; painted”) was (according to my dictionaries) also used to mean 划, pronounced huá, meaning “to row.” So the line 兰桡画舸悠悠去 could also be translated as “Magnolia oars row the barge lazily along.” (And for that matter, I’ve seen a translation by Jerome P. Seaton that renders the line as ‘”far off, magnolia oars, a painted barge sails on,’ “far off” apparently being that translator’s interpretation of 悠悠.)
I translated this line as I have because its structure is intended to parallel the first line of the poem, in which case my interpretation seems to make more sense. Of course, I could also be totally wrong about that, in which case you should let me know. By leaving a comment.