Monday, August 30, 2010

The quality of mercy is not strain'd... [Translated Shakespearean Quotation and Excerpts from an Essay by Ms. Lee Ying-Chuen, Bus Hostage Survivor]

Translation of a Shakespearean passage offered in humble tribute to all victims and survivors of the Manila bus hostage incident, and in admiration of the grace and true courage displayed by Ms. Lee Ying-chuen in her recent essay (Ms. Lee is one of the handful of survivors of this man-made tragedy)...

"The quality of mercy is not strain'd,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.
'Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown;
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptred sway,
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God's,
When mercy seasons justice...
... we do pray for mercy;
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy."

-- Excerpted from the Shakespearean play "The Merchant of Venice" (Act 4, Scene 1)*

慈悲的本質是不吝嗇,也不牽強的;
它像天堂賜下凡間
一陣陣溫柔的雨;
它是一份雙重的恩典;
它的恩澤滋潤了它的受惠者;
也同時滋潤了傾贈它的人。
它是強者中的強者;它成為
一個比皇冠更能代表皇者的加冕;
皇帝的權杖顯示出的俗世力量,
只是敬畏與威嚴的象徵;
是諸王憂慮和恐懼的根源。
但慈悲是在這種權杖威力之上,
它立基於皇者的心坎裏,
它本來源於天上的聖靈,
令凡間的勢力更趨上帝
那恩義雙全的國度。。。
。。。我們祈求天主的慈悲憐憫,
而那個禱告亦同時教我們去學懂
表現慈悲為懷的作為。

--- 節譯自莎士比亞劇目《威尼斯商人》(第四場,第一幕)

Translated by Snowdrops, 2010. All rights reserved.
(Most recent satisfied translation version published on 31st August, 2010, at 20:32).
(One key phrase change instituted on 14 January, 2011, at 16:44. Originally the first line of the translation had "strain'd" as "不吝嗇,也不費力的", to alert readers to the double-meanings of the term "strain'd" in this sentence. Further deliberation initially led me to utilise 牽強 instead of 吝嗇, even though I like 吝嗇 just as well if not better (it indicates the mean-spiritedness of Shylock very well, and also befits the meaning of word "Mercy" in the line as a quality that is generously given rather than forced). However 牽強 is more in keeping with the context of the dialogue between Portia and Shylock (where Portia was responding to Shylock's question about why he must be merciful), I have therefore ultimately decided to include 牽強. Subsequently I replaced 吝嗇 with 牽強, as I was going to leave 不費力 as part of the sentence because "not strain'd" does also refer to the fact that true mercy should be natural and effortless, precisely like how heavenly rain falls gracefully to earth. On further reflection however, 不牽強 does have this similar connotation to 不費力, and so the new translation of the phrase "not strain'd" becomes "不吝嗇,也不牽強的")

Further reading (Translations of these passages by Snowdrops published on 31st August, 2010, at 07:27; Slightly amended on 31st August at 17:48):

李瀅銓(馬尼拉事件倖存者):還死傷者公道, 不向弱者抽刃
Lee Ying-Chuen (Survivor from the Manila incident): "Demand Justice for the Victims; Don't Lash Out at the Weak"

回到香港後,知道香港這幾天出現了不少反菲言論,網上有人說要把所有菲傭趕走,使菲國立即陷入經濟困境作為報復,又有菲傭在街上被辱罵,一聲聲「奴隸國、僕人國」來作菲國代號。我明白市民對菲國政府和警察的無能的憤怒,我親身體會,但是,這與菲國人民何干呢?難道我們都忘了被歧視的滋味嗎?香港曾是長久被殖民的一個社會,華人在體制上和生活上都被所謂的「主人」歧視,現在卻有一些香港人財大氣粗地聲稱「我哋請咁多菲律賓人,我哋係佢哋老細」,以一副「聘用你是恩惠,你卻敢以下犯上」的奴隸主姿態來責備那些和挾持人質事件全不沾邊的菲傭,實在讓人心驚。菲傭明明就是她們無能政府的受害人,正正因為政府無能讓人民溫飽,無數的菲國婦女才要離鄉別井、丟下自己的孩子去寄人籬下照顧別人的孩子呀,為什麼在香港菲傭反而成為無能政府的代罪羔羊呢?為什麼在悲憤的同時有些香港人會變成種族主義者?同樣讓人難以明白的是,香港政府竟也在此同時宣布要把包括菲傭在內的外傭繼續凍薪,使外傭都無法分享經濟好轉的成果,這是我們的政府在渾水摸魚嗎?政府能不能公開檢討外傭薪酬的標準和機制是什麼,在這個時候作這些舉動,給人政府要懲罰外傭的感覺,對消除仇菲情緒沒有任何幫助。有位友人引了魯迅的一句話:勇者憤怒,抽刃向更強者;怯者憤怒,卻抽刃向更弱者。香港人難道是只會向弱者開刀的怯者嗎?
[Since returning to Hong Kong, I realised quite a lot of anti-Philippines talk have surfaced here in the last few days. On the Internet there were those who claimed that all Filipino maids should be deported, so as to exact revenge by ruining the economy of the Philippines. There were also reports of Filipino maids being insulted on the streets, and epithets of "Slave country" and "Servant country" replacing the name of Philippines. I understand my fellow citizens' anger and frustration against the utter fecklessness of the Filipino government and its woefully inept police force. This is something I personally experienced. However, what has this got to do with ordinary Filipino folks? Have we ourselves forgotten what it's like to be discriminated against? Hong Kong had for a long time been a colonial society, in which Chinese had been discriminated against in the formal system as well as in their daily lives by their so-called "masters". Now it is quite frightening to witness how some well-to-do Hongkongers boastfully declare, "We employ so many Filipino maids, we are their boss!", adopting a kind of "You should've been grateful we deign to employ you, how dare you rise up against us?!" slave-master attitude to berate those who have absolutely nothing to do with the bus hostage tragedy. It should have been clear that the Filipino maids are in fact victims of their own useless government. They are here precisely because of their government's inability to provide a basic livelihood for its citizens, forcing thousands upon thousands of Filipino women to leave behind their homes and their own children to come to a foreign land and help us look after our kids. How could these women possibly be the scapegoat for their useless government? Why do some Hongkongers become racist in the midst of our collective sorrow and anger? Similarly, it boggles the mind why the Hong Kong administration chose this moment to announce the freezing of wages for all foreign workers including Filipino maids, thus preventing them from sharing in the fruits of our economic recovery. Is the Hong Kong government trying to take advantage of a political expediency? Can our government hold a public review of the standards and metrics used in determining foreign workers' wages? Exhibiting this sort of behaviour at this particular time gives the impression that the Government would like to punish foreign workers, and does nothing to help dispel the prevailing anti-Philippines mood. A friend quoted from a Lu Zhun saying: "When the brave are angry, they lacerate those who are stronger than themselves; but when the cowardly become incensed, they lash out at those who are even weaker." Are we Hongkongers some kind of cowards who only dare to lash out at the weak?]

要慰死難者在天之靈的方法不是責難無辜的菲傭或菲國人民,我們的焦點要清晰,針對菲國的政府和警方,要求公正的調查,追究事件責任,以及支持傷者及死者遺屬安排日後的生活,這才是對事件中死傷者的實在關懷,長遠而言,我們該更支持菲國人民建設更可靠的政府,更有公義的社會,這樣香港才真正算得上是國際社會的一員,有人道關懷的國際大都會。
[The way to help rest the souls of the poor victims is not to blame the innocent Filipino maids or ordinary Filipino citizens. Our focus has got to be clear, so that we set our sights squarely on the Filipino government and its police force, and demand an objective, fair and thorough investigation, in order that responsibility for the tragedy could be appropriately apportioned; as well as to support the injured and the families of the deceased in preparing for the maintenance of their future livelihoods. This is the kind of care and concrete assistance we can provide to those who suffer gravely in this tragedy. In the long run, we should work towards helping Filipino citizens to build a more reliable government and a more just society for themselves, as only by doing so could Hong Kong rightfully proclaim itself as a proud member of the international community, a world city that respects and promotes human decency.]

* Note: As the translator does not want the relevance of this Shakespearean quotation to Ms. Lee's essay to be misinterpreted, the quotation is deliberately abridged for the purpose of this translated post. The full quotation is available here.

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