Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Dai Wangshu 戴望舒 (1905-1950): White Butterfly 白蝴蝶

What wisdom are you going to give me?
O little white butterfly,  
As you flap open your wings of white, blank pages,
Then fold closed those wings of white, blank pages. 

On the opened pages of my book----
On the closed pages of my book----









Translated  by Wong Pun Ming Chu and Andrew Wong in September 2016.

  • 災難的嵗月 上海 : 星群出版社, 1948. White Butterfly <白蝴蝶 >was written on 3 May 1940.
  • Butterfly when transformed from caterpillar to butterfly may have symbolic   meaning of        setting everything that was once known aside and to embrace a new way of being, a new life . It   may also mean guiding oneself on a journey of freedom, freedom from the past through the ascension process of becoming a higher self, a turning point or a transition in life.
  • The term 寂寞 is translated to “loneliness” here as Dai came in 1938 to Hong Kong, southern part of China where most people would speak in Cantonese dialect, Dai was from Hangzhou but studied in  Shanghai.  He probably would be speaking either Shanghainese or Mandarin.  He, liked a number of other intellectuals who came to Hong Kong from northern China, tried to avoid the turmoils in Mainland China.  His social circle might be limited.  It would not be surprising that he felt lonely in Hong Kong. Later in 1939 he became the editor of the literary columns of Sing Tao Newspaper.  He was imprisoned during Japanese occupation in Hong Kong from March to May 1942.  On 27 April 1942 he wrote the famous "Written on a Prison Wall” while in Victoria prison in Hong Kong.      
  • 宋代高菊卿曾有詩云:紙灰飛作白蝴蝶,淚血染成紅杜鵑  can be translated to “The ashes of the paper become white butterfly. Tears and blood stained the azalea to red.

Common Hedge Blue (Acytolepis puspa) found in Hong Kong
Wing span: 3 centimetres
It is of sexual dimorphism. Male Common Hedge Blues have wings with upperside metallic blue in colour while those of females are off-white. Underside of their wings are pale grey with brown spots and wavy speckles.


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