Thursday, March 13, 2008

17 Translations of One Poem by Wang Wei

My Three Versions of One Poem by Wang Wei

  鹿柴
    (唐)王维
 空山不见人
 但闻人语响
 返景入深林
 复照青苔上

 Deer Village
      Wang Wei
In the mountain, human voices resound,
Although not a soul is found.
Striking through the dense woods,
Sunrays spotlight the verdant moss.
        tr. FAN Jinghua

Not a soul is spotted in the mountain,
Human voices are heard, though.
Striking through the dense woods,
Sunrays spotlight the verdant moss.
        tr. FAN Jinghua

In the mountain, human voices resound,
Although not a soul is found.
Striking through the dense woods,
Sunrays spotlight the verdant moss.
        tr. FAN Jinghua

Different Renditions:

So lone seem the hills; there is no one in sight there.
But whence is the echo of voices I hear?
The rays of the sunset pierce slanting the forest,
And in their reflection green mosses appear.
           tr. W.J.B. Fletcher, 1919

There seems to be no one on the empty mountain...
And yet I think I hear a voice,
Where sunlight, entering a grove,
Shines back to me from the green moss.
      tr. Witter Bynner & Kiang Kang-hu, 1929

An empty hill, and no one in sight
But I hear the echo of voices.
The slanting sun at evening penetrates the deep woods
And shines reflected on the blue lichens.
         tr. Soame Jenyns, 1944

Through the deep woods, the slanting sunlight
Casts motley patterns on the jade-green mosses.
No glimpse of man in this lonely mountain,
Yet faint voices drift on the air.
        tr. Chang Yin-nan & Lewis C. Walmsley, 1958

On the lone mountain
I meet no one,
I hear only the echo
At an angle the sun's rays
   enter the depth of the wood
And shine
   upon the green moss.
       tr. C.J. Chen & Michael Bullock, 1960

On the empty mountains no one can be seen,
But human voices are heard to resound.
The reflected sunlight pieces the deep forest
And falls again upon the mossy ground.
       tr. James J.Y. Liu, 1962

Deep in the mountain wilderness
Where nobody ever comes
Only once in a great while
Something like the sound of a far-off voice.
The low ray of the sun
Slip through the dark forest,
And gleam again on the shadowy moss.
      tr. Kenneth Rexroth, 1990

Empty hills, no on in sight,
only the sound of someone talking;
late sunlight enters the deep wood,
shining over the green moss again.
      tr. Burton Watson, 1971

Empty mountain: no man is seen,
But voices of men are heard.
Sun's reflection reaches into the woods
And shines upon the green moss.
       tr. Wai-lim Yip, 1972

Hills empty, no one to be seen
We hear only voices echoed -
With light coming back into the deep wood
The top of the green moss is lit again.
       tr. G.W. Robinson, 1997

In empty mountains no one can be seen.
But here might echoing voices cross.
Reflecting rays
  entering the deep wood
Glitter again
  on the dark green moss.
      tr. William McNaughton, 1974

Not the shadow on a man on the deserted hill-
And yet one hears voices speaking;
Deep in the seclusion of the woods,
Stray shafts of the sun pick out the green moss.
         tr. H.C. Chang, 1977

Empty mountains:
 no one to be seen.

Yet- hear-
 human sounds and echoes.

Returning sunlight
 enters the dark woods;

Again shining
 on the green moss, above.
     tr. Gary Snyder, 1978

 Deer Enclosure
Empty mountain, no man is seen.
Only heard are echoes of men's talk.
Reflected light enters the deep wood
And shines again on blue-green moss.
     tr. Pauline YU

2 comments:

Ron said...

I think it is wise to do read multiple versions and to do multiple versions oneself. If something is always lost in translation, one can perhaps express that lost something with a different approach. Always, of course, at the cost of losing something else.

Ron said...

If I may add my own node to this Indra's net of reflecting translations:

Empty mountain.
Seeing no one.
Hearing someone's
echoing voice.
The late day sun
enters again
the deep forest,
shining again
on the green moss.