Sunday, 3 April 2016

Dai Wangshu 戴望舒 (1905-1950): Written on the Prison Wall 獄中題壁

If I should die in here,
O friends, don’t you grieve;
For I shall live forever
In your hearts, never leave.

The one of you who died     
In jail, in Japan’s seized land,
That deep, deep hatred he carries,
In your minds, must ever stand.

When you return to unearth him  
From where his battered body lies;
You’ll shout your cries of victory
To raise his soul up-up to the skies;

Then you’ll lay his bones on the peak’s acme
To bask in the sun and the rare airstream----
Ah, back in that dark and damp dungeon,
This was, once, his only sweet dream.

Translated by: Rita Wong and Andrew Wong    譯者: 黃潘明珠 黃宏發
3 March 2016 (revised 8.3.16; 9.3.16; 10.3.16; 11.3.16; 18.3.16; 22.3.16; 29.3.16; 1.4.16)





Victoria Prison, Old Bailey Street, Hong Kong.


*Line 4:  Lines 2 and 4 rhyme in the original.  We have added “never leave” to rhyme with “don’t you grieve” in line 2.

*Line 8:  Lines 6 and 8 rhyme in the original.  We have rendered the line (which literally means “You must forever remember”) as “In your minds, must ever stand” to rhyme with “Japan’s seized land” in line 6.

*Lines 9 and 10:  We have moved “unearth” from line 10 to line 9 and have added “From where his … lies” in line 10 so as to create a rhyme for “skies” in line 12.

*Line 12:  As noted above, lines 10 and 12 rhyme in the original.  We have coined the word “up-up” so as to translate the reiterative locution of 高高.

*Line 13:  白骨 “white bones” is rendered simply as “bones” so as to shorten the line.  “peak” here and “wind” and “dream” in lines 14 and 16 rhyme in the original.  Short of a rhyme word, 山峰 “mountain peak” is rendered as “peak’s acme” so that both words are in assonance with the “rare airstream” and “sweet dream” in lines 14 and 16.

*Line 14:  The word “bask” is used to cover both “bask” and “bathe”.  According to the Shorter Oxford, “Bask” is defined as “1. To bathe especially in warm water …; 3 To expose oneself to or disport oneself to a flood of warmth; to be enjoying the heat”.  飄風 is rendered as “rare airstream”.

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