Monday, October 19, 2009

On the Love of Lotus... 《愛蓮說》 [Translation of Sung Poetry]

《愛蓮說》 周敦頤
水陸草木之花,可愛者甚蕃。
晉陶淵明獨愛菊;
自李唐來,世人盛愛牡丹;
予獨愛蓮之出淤泥而不染,
濯清漣而不妖,
中通外直,不蔓不枝,
香遠益清,亭亭靜植,
可遠觀而不可褻玩焉。

予謂:
菊,花之隱逸者也;
牡丹,花之富貴者也;
蓮,花之君子者也。
噫!菊之愛,陶後鮮有聞;
蓮之愛,同予者何人;
牡丹之愛,宜乎眾矣。

On the Love of Lotus

Of all the flora across land and water, there are plenty to adore:
Tao Yuen-Ming of the Chin dynasty admired only chrysanthemums;
Since the dynasty of Li Tang, the peonies have been popular with the masses.
I, for one, love only the lotus -- for the way it emerged untainted from the muck,
Raising cleanly above ripples of water with an unaffected grace;
Its hollow, straight stems eschew climbing-vines or branches;
Its scent turns ever purer the farther it travels in the wind,
And all the while it quietly holds its upright stance in peace.
It can only be admired from afar, not to be sullied nor debased.

I declare:
Chrysanthemum is the hermit of the flower world;
Peony, the rich and powerful among its peers;
Lotus, the noble soul among all flora.
Oh, the appreciation of chrysanthemum is seldom known after Tao;
As for the love of lotus, who else like me would feel the same?
Peony, on the other hand, seems rather suited to the mainstream.


Translated by Snowdrops, 2009. All rights reserved.

(Satisfied final version finally published at 18:28, 20 October, 2009)
(Tiny amendments effected on 28 July, 2010)


Update: 26th January 2011: I recently discovered that another person has slightly modified my above translation (His/her piece begins with, "Of all the flowers across land and water...") without providing any credit to my original translation. But derivative works without attribution are forbidden even under the Creative Commons 3.0 license (which covers all contents of this blog), and especially for a creative work that has already been marked as "All rights reserved". The person posted his/her derivative translation as a Word document online (on what looks like a forum for Taiwanese local teachers), and there is no facility that I could see to alert him/her of copyright violation. I am noting this incident here.

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6 Comments:

At Tue Oct 20, 04:42:00 p.m. IST, Blogger laichungleung said...

I am not sure if that's part of the curriculum when I grew up or I just came across it. I like them all. I aspire to each one of them but I don't think I have any success in being any. I like water lily and peony as photographic subjects.

 
At Tue Oct 20, 06:38:00 p.m. IST, Blogger Snowdrops said...

Yes it was indeed part of my Chinese curriculum when I was a HK student! I can still vividly remember reciting it in class. I just came across this poem yesterday morning and couldn't wait to translate it. I've lost count now how many attempts it took me to get at this so-called "final satisfied version". Probably when I look at it in a little while again I would find something else about it to change.

Anyway, yes I love flowers as photographic objects too. In fact, I like ALL flowers. Exhibit A: my blogger name. Exhibit B: my icon. I haven't got around to really doing much with my new DSLR to photograph plant life unfortunately (and today is another marathon 12 hour stint in the office!! Arrgh!), though I did skim those "photography for dummies" books I bought.

Got to go home now and lie down.

 
At Tue Oct 20, 08:32:00 p.m. IST, Blogger laichungleung said...

I was going to ask you how you are doing with your DSLR but I guess I will see them when you let's see them. I read the D5000 got some problems (if that's what you got) hope yours is OKAY or you got it fixed with their firmware.

I went out to take pictures of some remaining flowers a couple of weeks ago as I think there won't be any more flowers left as the weather turns colder. This past weekend some part of New Jersey had snow accumulation of a few inches already.

I did a search on water lily and lotus. And I think I know a bit more now. I like them both. Last time I was in Taiwan I took some pictures of them, not very good but still. Even though some think peony is loud but I like it especially the ones with white flowers. It reminds me of my ... own birthday. Ha ha.

Whenever you are tired, just try to enjoy the sight of those rugby players.

 
At Mon Nov 16, 03:40:00 p.m. GMT, Blogger Snowdrops said...

Thanks LCL for your kind comments on my blog, and sincere apologies for not being able to respond in the last while. Btw, your recent photos are just stunning, keep up the great work.

Hope I'll also be able to take pictures and blog and comment properly after the present drama passes...

 
At Wed Nov 25, 12:34:00 a.m. GMT, Blogger Stephanie said...

Hi Snowdrops, hope you're doing well. I really like your beautiful translation of the poem. I think you've kept the heart and soul of the original piece. I'm wondering if I could use your English translation for my calligraphy practice, which I would post on Instagram. I'll definitely give you credit (just let me know what to put). Look forward to hearing from you!

 
At Sat Mar 12, 10:26:00 p.m. GMT, Anonymous Snowdrops said...

Hi Stephanie, thanks for your kind comment and apologies for the fact that it took me so long to reply. Google has unilaterally decided to link my real name account to this blog which is meant to be anonymous, and so I hesitated to update this blog ever since this change in policy when Google took over Blogspot. I'm glad you liked my translation and yes, you are welcome to use my work for your own creative purpose as long as you fulfil the Creative Commons licence of proper attribution. If you have already done work on Instagram that is derived from my translation above please feel free to post a link here to let me know (you could use the !Create a link! function on this blog page to insert your relevant Instagram link), I would love to see your calligraphy practice of this beautiful poem :D Take care and keep up your good creative work.

 

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