Hey hey, amigos. Anyone still reading?
I’m not dead; I’ve just had a dead-ass six months. Time to get back in the game.
I’ll have more posts coming up later this week, but for now, in honor of the delightful summer rain that just woke me up, here’s a quick translation of Du Fu’s 春夜喜雨, “Delighting in Rain on a Spring Night.”
Delighting in Rain on a Spring Night
A good rain knows its proper time;
It waits until the Spring to fall.
It drifts in on the wind, steals in by night,
Its fine drops drench, yet make no sound at all.
The paths between the fields are cloaked with clouds;
A river-skiff’s lone light still burns.
Come dawn, we’ll see splashes of wet red —
The flowers in Chengdu, weighed down with rain.
No real notes on the translation, other than to say that I know it’s not rhymed or metrical, but I did it just now, so what do you want. Guoxue.com has a page on it in Chinese, but it’s not so much explaining things as enthusing about what a great poet Du Fu was, which, like, duh.
I’ve also seen versions of the poem that have 夜 as the first character of ‘野径云俱黑,’ but I’ll assume that it’s a typo.
In the last line, after toying with the idea of translating it as “Silktown,” I’ve decided not to translate 锦官城 literally. The translations of the poem that I’ve read all do this — Burton Watson gives it as “City of Brocade,” Florence Ayscough as “Embroidered Official City,” and Jerome P. Seaton as “Brocade Mandarin.” With all due respect for my esteemed colleagues, those all sound stupid; Du Fu meant Chengdu, and it sounds clumsy in English, and anyway it’s an allusion that no English reader is going to get without a footnote. Besides, my version of the line scans into nice-sounding iambs.
OK, seriously. New posts later in the week. I’m looking forward to writing them already.