夜雨寄北

近日这首诗困扰着我

美国诗人威特·宾纳(Witter
Bynner)把《夜雨寄北》这首诗这样地翻译成英文:

“NOTE ON A RAINY NIGHT TO A FRIEND IN THE NORTH

  You ask me when I am coming. I do not know.

  I dream of your mountains and autumn pools brimming all night
with the rain.

  Oh, when shall we be trimming wicks again, together in your
western window?

  When shall I be hearing your voice again, all night in the
rain?”

  宾纳把“归期”翻译成“when I am
coming”,把李商隐当时身处在的四川巴山,说成“your
mountains”,把盼望在重聚中追话今夜“巴山夜雨时”,译成“hearing
your voice again”,都是不符合原诗之意的。

  北大英语系许渊冲教授,则把《夜雨寄北》这诗译为:

  “You ask me when I can come back but I don’t know,


  The pools in western hills with autumn rain o’erflow.



  When by our window can we trim the wicks again



  And talk about this endless, dreary night of rain?”

  许教授在这里,除了少了宾纳用“all night in the
rain”来重现李商隐两次以“巴山夜雨”写出回环往复,委婉曲折的情感之美以外,更没有把“却话巴山夜雨时”的“却”这个诗眼翻译出来。“却”在这里是
“再次”、“重头”谈起的意思。在中国诗歌里,常用“却”字来表现“再次”的意思。如“却与小姑别。——《玉台新咏·古诗为焦仲卿妻作》”,“却看妻子愁
何在。——唐·杜甫《闻官军收河南河北》”,和“却坐促弦弦转急。——唐·白居易《琵琶行(并序)》”。在这首诗里,“却”这个诗眼再度带出“巴山夜雨
”,写出了设想归后向那人剪烛夜话谈及此时此地的情形,使这首诗有回环对称的结构特点。许先生虽然在“trim
the
wicks”的后面用了“again”,或许是为了和后面的“rain”更好地有英文押韵,但“共”剪西窗烛,变成了靠窗“再”剪烛,脱离了中文诗的原
意。

  斯坦福大学的刘若愚教授是这样翻译的:

  “You ask me the date of my return — no date has been
set.

  The night rain over the Pa Mountains swells the autumn
pond.

  O when shall we together trim the candle by the west
window,

  And talk about the time when the night rain fell on the Pa
Mountains?”

海外大陆华人作家散宜生评价说,刘若愚教授的翻译保留了原诗的更多的韵味和结构特点,但也没有译出“却”这个诗眼,同时最后一句(十五音节)也太长些。散宜生于是这么翻译:

 

“You ask me when to come back, but when I don’t know.

  In this night of rain pools along Ba Ridge o’erflow.

  Oh, yet this night of rain is going to be the talk,

  If we should trim wicks together by the west window!”

在这里,散宜生用的是连他自己也称为的“胆大妄为”的一种办法,把中文原诗在英文翻译中重新组合,将二、四两句直接联系起来。但为了强调“巴山夜雨时”(“this
night of
rain”)的再次往复,而把中文原诗第三句和第四句颠倒过来,更把原诗的韵味和结构之美也丢掉了。另外“when
I don’t know”的翻译也不通。

许渊冲是相当博学的一位教授,他曾来我们学校做过演讲,大大小小演讲不少,许渊冲让我对翻译学有了新的认识。他号称诗译英法第一人,翻译了大量的中国唐诗宋词。在《夜雨寄北》翻译当中,许渊冲的是我最中意的。我觉得他把again移放在第三句,而不是第四句,仅仅为了押韵的需要,是非常技巧,非常成熟的,评论作者要求过于苛刻,而且自己也没更好的提议。况且“却”字在翻译中已有体现。


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3 Responses to 夜雨寄北

  1. ✿Livvy says:

    This is really a fascinating entry! I\’ve always been interested in the area of translation.  Well, after reading several different versions of translations of the same poem, personally I\’m in favor of the very first one done by Bynner.  Maybe I\’m not familiar enough with the theme and phrases of the original piece written in Chinese, but simply by reading the four translations above, the top piece seems more appealing to me for it conveys a subtle sentimentality through the lines.
     
    In particular Bynner chose to write in present continuous tense in all four sentences he translated: “coming”, “trimming”, “brimming” and “hearing.” I noticed that he is the only one who uses “…when I’m coming” among the rest of the translators. The tense itself suggests a sense of anticipation, i.e. someone is waiting for his best friend to return; the phrase such as “can come back” shown in some other versions is somewhat blunt and too straightforward in comparison in my opinion. Looks like Bynner prefers first-person narration in his translation for the word “I” appears many times throughout the verse, not sure if this is a good choice though…I guess using the word “I” repetitively delivers a sense of loneliness the writer himself felt at the very moment without his friend by his side.
     
    Anyway, thanks for sharing! Love it ^ ^~    

  2. m says:

    huh, i think Bynner interprets the poem in his own way. the meaning of the poem is slightly distorted by his version. the original poem is much more delicate than the translation. it is just so hard to translate ancient chinese. anyway, thank you for your kind comment.

  3. 小莹 says:

    我也最喜欢许渊冲教授的版本,押韵的味道及句式调整的方式最合我意。因为,中文古诗译英文,准确易得,优美难求。若难两全,宁选后者。

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