Chinese poetry translations
August 27, 2019 12:35 PM   Subscribe

Chinese poetry translations
I’ve the habit, when learning a language, of using classic poems as practice texts, alongside more modern works. With Japanese, I got a couple books out of this. Now with Chinese, I’m doing it again. So far I’ve translated 70+ poems, mostly from the Tang dynasty, mostly by working through 300 Tang Poems (唐詩三百首), but also other randoms as I stumble across them. The more polished work gets indexed in this post, with rougher drafts posted in this journal as I initially complete them. Feedback welcome at all levels and stages of work.
Role: translator
posted by Quasirandom (4 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

These are so cool! And what a neat idea for practicing with the language you're learning.
posted by holmesian at 2:08 PM on August 27


Thanks. It has its pitfalls, working with outdated language -- but it also forces me to plow through explainers written for confused native-speaker students being made to study it in school, which is a very different sort of practice reading.
posted by Quasirandom at 9:57 AM on August 28 [1 favorite]


Wow. Thank you so, so much for this. I was introduced to Du Fu only a few years ago and reading ancient Chinese poetry has become a regular meditation: mornings on the porch, evenings at the beach, any moment in which I crave calm and connection to the emotional expanse of what we have always been as a species. Feeling the pure imagery of Tang poems sparks such serenity for me in a way that always, always, always brings to mind the immense project of poetic translation; to experience some connection to the process is truly humbling. I so appreciate the contexualizing as well--one of the constant books on my nightstand (One Hundred Poems form the Chinese, Kenneth Rexroth) has the occasional illuminating footnote, but I'm always desperate for more.

This is incredible. I am so happy to have come across your work. I could live in the tranquility of your translations forever. Thank you.
posted by youarenothere at 5:18 PM on September 9


Awww, thankee.

The footnotes are a lot of the fun. There's a real danger, for me, of nattering on and distracting from, if not getting in the way of, the poem itself -- I have to constantly check, Is this essential context for understanding what's going on? The merely cool to know and self-justifications, I've learned, slowly, how to discard.
posted by Quasirandom at 12:09 PM on September 10


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