jjhunter: Drawing of human JJ in ink tinted with blue watercolor; woman wearing glasses with arched eyebrows (JJ inked)
[personal profile] jjhunter
I'm posting some favorite poems-in-translation this week to the comm [community profile] poetry, and would love some help tracking down the original language texts to include with the English translations. Does anyone know where I could find the original texts for the following poems? (Links, when included, go to the relevant posts to be edited at [community profile] poetry.)
jjhunter: Drawing of human JJ in ink tinted with blue watercolor; woman wearing glasses with arched eyebrows (JJ inked)
[personal profile] jjhunter
Meta: translating Japanese by [profile] lhhammer @ [community profile] poetree
Aside from the usual translation problem of how words do not match one-to-one across languages, but rather overlap in meaning and tenor and connotation, the biggest difficulty with Japanese is that it's what linguists call a pro-drop language. That is, any information that a listener can understand from context can and usually will be omitted. The attitude is something like, If you have enough context to understand who a pronoun refers to, why bother with the pronoun? In everyday conversation or an extended prose passage, this generally isn't hard to deal with as there's a lot of context, but in a short, detached poem, the lacunae can be hard to fill, leaving you to ponder whether a verb describes the action of "I," "you," "us," or some other person or people.


Also, for those who missed [personal profile] goneahead's fabulous week as POETREE Host focusing on 'International Poetry' earlier this month, [personal profile] alee_grrl has put together an excellent roundup post.
lnhammer: lo-fi photo of a tall, thin man - caption: "some guy" (Default)
[personal profile] lnhammer

natsu no yo no
fusu ka to soreba
naku hitokoe ni
akuru shinonome

    While I consider
possibly going to bed
    of a summer night --
with a single cuckoo's voice,
the first breaking light of dawn.

By Ki no Tsurayuki.

Written for (or at least presented at) a poetry contest held in 893. I am intrigued by how in the first line "night" (yo) is followed by a genitive/locative case-marker instead of the expected topic-marking particle, which has the effect of de-emphasizing the time -- and so plays into the speaker's losing track of it. I shifted that image down to the third line to mimic that de-emphasis.
lnhammer: lo-fi photo of a tall, thin man - caption: "some guy" (Default)
[personal profile] lnhammer
As part of learning Japanese, I've taken up translating from the Kokinshu, the first imperial anthology of Japanese poetry, compiled around 905 CE. This is of course as silly as practicing English with Chaucer, but, well, mastering two grammar sets at once, plus vocabulary shifts, just makes the challenge all the more fun.

Please tell me there are other people who do this ...

The following is my favorite waka from the anthology, so far. It's by Ono no Komachi (小野小町), an obscure lady-in-waiting active in the 850s, noted for being the most passionate classical Japanese love poet as well as one of the great technical masters of using words with double-meanings. In this one, every noun and verb has at least two operative senses (ranging from symbolic senses to idiomatic uses to outright puns meant to be read both ways at once), only some of which can come through into English intact. In addition, the adverbial middle line can be read as applying to the clauses before and after it. In short, an astonishing poem. The implied context is she's been waiting for a lover who hasn't visited.

花の色は うつりにけりな いたづらに わが身世にふる ながめせしまに

hana no iro wa
utsurinikeri na
itazura ni
waga mi yo ni furu
nagame seshi ma ni

    This flower's beauty
has faded away it seems
    to no avail
have I spent my time staring
into space at the long rains

nijibug: Saya & Chihaya (Default)
[personal profile] nijibug
Today I found out about the Kentoushi Fune Saigen Project, in which Tang Dynasty envoy ships were rebuilt and sent off on the millenia-old journey from Osaka to Shanghai. Acclaimed composer Yoko Kanno and lyricist/singer Maaya Sakamoto collaborated on the bilingual theme song, which was performed at the ceremony on May 8th when the ship set sail.

I tried my hand at translating "Utsukushii Hito". The full song was just released today, as the ship entered the harbor at Shanghai. My translation is half guesswork, half creative license; Maaya's heartfelt lyrics are really beautiful and I would appreciate any help/corrections you have to offer!


この声が聞こえるなら 渡り鳥よ導いて
命が覚えている 遥かなるあの場所へ

Beautiful People

If you can hear my voice, O birds of passage, please guide me
To the life I remember on that far-off shore......

The rest at my journal

Please help me tag this entry -
genre: lyrics, genre: songs, translation: english, language: japanese

Thank you.


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