Friday, October 5, 2007

Erotic Swing in China

  The Erotic Swing in China

  In Chinese iconic and poetic tradition, riding a swing does not have the erotic implications in Western art, such as Fragonard’s The Swing. W. C. Williams wrote about the painting in the poem “Portrait of a Lady” and Douglas Dunn writes in his poems “The Gallery” and “The Distraction”. The following poem is actually a folk song or rhyme in the Wu dialect area of Yangtze River delta, traditionally called Jiangnan, collected by Feng Menglong, a famous scholar-writer in Ming Dynasty. This may be, however, undercurrent in the folk culture, as the erotic scene in the erotic novel The Plum in the Golden Vase (Jin Ping Mei) might suggest.
       An Illustration from The Plum in the Golden Vase (Jin Ping Mei)
  在中国的图像与诗歌传统中,荡秋千不具有西方艺术中的那种色情意味,例如法国洛可可画家弗拉格纳尔Fragonard的著名油画《秋千》The Swing.美国诗人威廉姆斯W.C.Williams以此画写过一首《仕女图》,苏格兰当代诗人道格拉斯·顿Douglas Dunn写过两首与此画相关的诗《画廊》The Gallery和《消遣》The Distraction。下面这首诗是中国明代的吴方言民歌,由著名作家冯梦龙收集整理。这首民歌倒是有着与西方很相似的意蕴。不过,荡秋千的色情意味也许一直是民间文化的一个潜流,例如小说《金瓶梅》中的场景。
             The Swing by Jean-Honore Fragonard

A Folk Song entitled "The Swing" popular in The South of Yangtze River Area in Ming Dynasty


Word-by-word translation:

1)  姐  在   架      上   打 秋千,
 sister at/on frame/support on/upper play swing

2) 郎  在   地  下  把  丝   牵。
 boy/man at/on ground under give silk/string hold

3) 姐 把 脚儿 高  翘 起,
 sister give foot high raise up

4) 待  郎   双  手  送 近  前。
 wait boy/man pair/two hand push close toward

5) 牵 引 魂 灵 飞 上 天。
 hold lead soul spirit fly up sky

Free Translation意译
     The Swing
The saucy girl sways on the swing seat,
The gallant boy drags gaily the silky rope.
Her lotus feet stretch out boldly high,
His hands push and pull, never out of control.
Heart and soul fly out of the body to the sky.
            from Folk Songs edited by Feng Menglong (1574-1646)

Back-Translation into modern Chinese回译:


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