Friday, January 30, 2009

Chinese Poetry - Cao Cao 短歌行

Recently, I have gotten into the interest of learning Chinese poetry. For an English educated person from young, the first task was to learn how to read Chinese. After spending a good 8 years (yes 8 years and still learning) to do that and now am able to read, i have started to go into Chinese poetry.

My personal ambition of reading the 三国 classics in Chinese is still today an ambition.

The first poem which I would like to post here is the one that was recited by Cao Cao in Redcliff 2. Cao Cao was a well known poet as much as his military might. The poem is call 短歌行。Will provide the meaning and translation once I am able to do it. Meanwhile, watch Redcliff for the poem.


对酒当歌,人生几何?

Sang while drinking without worrying life is short,too?

譬如朝露,去日苦多。

The past was bitter and the present fine days, like morning dew.

慨当以慷,忧思难忘。

Generously drink and drink,still worries hard to throw.

何以解忧,唯有杜康。

How to get rid? Only a Dukang bottle.

青青子衿,悠悠我心。

In my mind lingers your collars blue.

但为君故,沉吟至今。

I've been singing the love songs for you.

呦呦鹿鸣,食野之苹。

The cowards acts as deer eat wild apples with wail.

我有嘉宾,鼓瑟吹笙。

Wheneve my noble guests come I have Chinese zither and Sheng blow.

明明如月,何时可掇。

What can't I? --The moon, shining so.

忧从中来,不可断绝。

Where is my moon, in my mind only you.

越陌度阡,枉用相存。

Over tens of thousands of fields, I fly and go.

契阔谈宴,心念旧恩。

We meet,sit and eat, just for the ever home,

月明星稀,乌鹊南飞。

Togather from evening till early morning, though.

绕树三匝,何枝可依?

Like birds flying back and forth, not knowing where I can settle.

山不厌高,海不厌深。

Even if many mountains and rivers in the way,I'll still go.

周公吐哺,天下归心。

I'll win the global advisers' hearts, departing from you.

A Song by Cao Cao

Wine before us, sing a song.

How long does life last?

It is like the morning dew;

Sad so many days have past.

Sing hey, sing ho!

Deep within my heart I pine.

Nothing can dispel my woe,

Save Du Kang, the god of wine.

Blue, blue the scholar's robe;

Long, long for him I ache.

Preoccupied with you, my lord,

Heavy thoughts for your sake.

To each other cry the deer,

Nibbling grass upon the plain.

When a good friend visits me,

We'll play the lyre once again.

In the sky, the moon is bright;

Yet I can reach it never.

In my heart such sorrow dwells;

Remaining with me ever.

In the fields, our paths crossed;

Your visit was so kind.

Together after our long parting,

Your favours come to mind.

Clear the moon, few the stars;

The crows in southward flight.

Circling three times round the tree,

No branch where to alight.

What if the mountain is high,

Or how deep the sea?

When the Duke of Zhou greeted a guest,

In his service all wished to be.



對酒當歌,人生幾何?譬如朝露,去日苦多。


解释:端起酒杯高唱詩歌,人生在世能有多久?
好比早晨的露水,太陽一出來就消失。 逝去的歲月中,憂慮比歡樂還多呢!


慨當以慷,憂思難忘。何以解憂?惟有杜康。


應盡情地慷慨高歌,但內心的憂慮卻時刻難忘。
用什麼來消解我的愁悶?唯有酒呀!


青青子衿,悠悠我心。但為君故,沉吟至今。


離我遠去的朋友,使我長久地懷念。
只因為思念你呀!我一直低聲吟詠到如今。


呦呦鹿鳴,食野之萍。我有嘉賓,鼓瑟吹笙。


原野上的小鹿,一邊鳴叫,一邊吃著艾蒿。
我有貴賓,鼓瑟吹笙來相待。


明明如月,何時可掇?憂從中來,不可斷絕。


那皎潔的月亮,什麼時候才能把它掇取到?
我出自內心的憂慮,永遠也排解不開。


越陌度阡,枉用相存。契闊談讌,心念舊恩。


承蒙你們遠道來探望,
我們聚在一起談心宴飲,重溫舊日的情誼。


月明星稀,烏鵲南飛。繞樹三匝,何枝可依。


月明星稀之夜,烏鵲朝南飛去,
繞著大樹飛了幾圈,那一樹枝可以棲息呢?


山不厭高,海不厭深。周公吐哺,天下歸心。



山不嫌高,海不嫌深,明主不嫌賢士眾多啊!
周公一飯三吐哺,天下的人就歸向他了。

3 comments:

Bernard said...

Nice translation - but why did you use simplified characters for the poem itself?

It wrecks the effect. Simplified characters are one of greatest cultural crimes of the last century.

KamijoSan said...

reply to above:
brainwashed by Falun Gong or Taiwan and Hong Kong people?
Believe it or not, simplified characters and traditional characters coexisted in the history. Some simplified character were even older than their traditional form. "simplified" is misleading. They are not simplified, they are simple.

Bernard Kwan said...

. it is true that some simple forms predated what we think of traditional forms, they are only a small number compared what happened after 1949, a lot of which make no sense from a structural perspective.

Everyone is brainwashed to a certain extent, I come down on the side of logic. Just as 愛 should always be written with a 心。廣 is unbalanced without the 黃 and there is no indication of how the sound.

Thank you Ivan for a lovely translation.