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Diction, Dictionaries, and the Translation of Classical Chinese Poetry Author(s): William H. Nienhauser Jr. Source: T'oung Pao , Second Series, Vol. 64, Livr. 1/3 (1978), pp. 47-109 Published b y : BRILL Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4528128 . Accessed: 29/07/2011 16:58 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates y our acce p tance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at . http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp . JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless you have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you may use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use. Please contact the p ublisher re g ardin g an y further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at . http://www.jstor.org/action/showPublisher?publisherCode=bap . . Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printed page of such transmission. JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org. BRILL is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to T'oung Pao. http://www.jstor.org " id="pdf-obj-0-2" src="pdf-obj-0-2.jpg">

Diction, Dictionaries, and the Translation of Classical Chinese Poetry Author(s): William H. Nienhauser Jr. Source: T'oung Pao, Second Series, Vol. 64, Livr. 1/3 (1978), pp. 47-109 Published by: BRILL

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Diction, Dictionaries, and the Translation of Classical Chinese Poetry Author(s): William H. Nienhauser Jr. Source: T'oung Pao , Second Series, Vol. 64, Livr. 1/3 (1978), pp. 47-109 Published b y : BRILL Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4528128 . Accessed: 29/07/2011 16:58 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates y our acce p tance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at . http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp . JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless you have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you may use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use. Please contact the p ublisher re g ardin g an y further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at . http://www.jstor.org/action/showPublisher?publisherCode=bap . . Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printed page of such transmission. JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org. BRILL is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to T'oung Pao. http://www.jstor.org " id="pdf-obj-0-56" src="pdf-obj-0-56.jpg">

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Toung Pao, Vol. LXIV, I-3

DICTION,

DICTIONARIES,

AND THE TRANSLATION

OF CLASSICAL CHINESE

POETRY')

BY

 

WILLIAM

H.

NIENHAUSER

Jr.

 

ABBREVIATIONS

 

AM

Asia Major

 

AO

Archiv Orientalnti

BSOAS

Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies

BMFEA

Bulletin of the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities

CHHP

Ch'ing-hua

hsiieh-pao

(Tsing

Hua

Journal

of Chinese

Studies)

HJAS

Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies

 

JAOS

Journal of the American Oriental Society

 

JA S

Journal

of

A sian Studies

 

MS

Monumenta Serica

 

OE

Oriens Extremus

PMLA

Publications of the Modern Language Association

SPPY

Ssu-pu pei-yao

 

SPTK

Ssu-pu ts'ung-k'an

TP

T'oung Pao

Sorgfaltig priif ich Meinen Plan:

er ist GroB genug, er ist Unverwirklichbar. -Brecht

INTRODUCTION

When a critic speaks of "culture" or "cultural background" in a

discussion

of translation

2),

one immediately

calls for a definition

') I should like to thank Professors F. A. Bischoff, Michael B. Fish, Karl Kao, Gerald Mathias, Joachim Schoeberl, and especially Mau-tsai Liu, for their suggestions, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and the Graduate School of the University of Wisconsin for their support, and the staff of the Institute for Sex Research, Bloomington, Indiana, for its kindness. None of the above are responsible for the content of this essay. 2) This paper was in part provoked by Wang Fang-yu's discussion of "culture" and "culture background" in the translation of classical Chinese poetry ["On Translating Chinese Poems Written in Cursive Script," Journal of Chinese Linguistics, 2.2 (May 1974), pp. 2I9-228]. Therein Mr. Wang seems to advocate reading classical Chinese poetry without the use of any "tools" [his term] human or otherwise (cf. p. 227). It is obvious that a Western reader, no matter how proficient in classical Chinese, cannot sense the subtle- ties which a T'ang poet, with much of the Shih-ching and Wen-hsiian as well

48

WILLIAM H. NIENHAUSER

JR.

of such terms. Often it seems that they refer to a native speaker's intuitive feeling for his language. Yet although native speakers of Chinese certainly share a portion of the culture or cultural back- ground with their literary ancestors, this store of knowledge can be found as well in the printed depositories-dictionaries and concord- ances-which grace so many sinological studies. Without attempt- ing to consider the human resources, therefore, this paper proposes to examine the possibilities for the use of these printed tools of translation as illustrated in several translations, and to append a postface which attempts to apply the lessons of this practice toward the improveinent of existing reference materials and the initiation of new dictionaries and concordances. One of the central difficulties in translation is the question of diction. Diction, as defined by Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary 3), signifies the "choice of words especially with regard to correctness, clearness, or effectiveness." This is the basic stuff of translation 4). Only through an understanding of diction, of the correctness, clearness, and effectiveness of the words of the poet, can such larger concerns as tone, cliche, dialect (be it geographical, social, or occupational), mood, connotation, style and allegory be determined. Without an understanding of these aspects of language, translation efforts will remain "culturally deficient." A century ago most serious translators attempted to correct this deficiency by working closely with native speakers. This is, of course, still desir- able today, but the traditionally educated native speaker of James

as their imnportantcommentaries by heart, could. The common corpus was, however, already jeopardized by the social changes among the literati during the late T'ang and Sung and by the continuation of the sixty-chiian Wen- hsiian in a work of much larger proportions, the Wen-yu-an ying-hua i<;V A V. Thus David Lattimore's observation in his "Allusion and T'ang Poetry", in Arthur F. Wright and Denis Twitchett, eds., Perspectives on the T'ang (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1973), p. 410, that

Americans today

"read too many books, too seldom the same books"

to

facilitate

a literary tradition such as that of traditional China, can also be

applied to a certain extent to modern Chinese scholars attempting to read

classical Chinese poetry. 3) Cambridge, Mass.: Houghton and Company, I963, 4) See Peter A. Boodberg, "Cedules from a Berkeley Workshop," CHHP,

p.

231.

7 (I969),

p. io: the "search for diction in some degree commensurate with

that of the original" is the "primary responsibility of the translator"; see

THE TRANSLATIONOF CLASSICALCHINESE POETRY

49

Legge'sday is no longerso widelyor readilyavailable 5). For today's

student dictionariesand concordances,grammars and punctuated editions have of necessity begun to supplanthim. This, it would seem, is a healthy trend, since sinology, like many of its sister disciplineswhich deal with all aspects of a long-lived culture, has lagged sadly behindthe criticaldevelopments of other litera- tures,primarily because of its over-dependenceupon native speakers (whohave been for the most part, and hereone must speakof those educatedtraditionally, less interestedin such problems),and the relativelyunderdeveloped field of Chineselinguistics. Thus entire schools of criticism}such as the formalist-structuralist, can only be applied superficiallyto Chineseliterature, because we have not yet the syntacticalor semanticaldata. In many ways Harmut Fahndrich's bleak evaluation of Near Eastern Studies could

be applied to contemporarysinology: " ...

a

field of study,

whichpartly on organizationalgrounds, partly because of the alibi of the necessarymastering of difficultlanguages, and partly-so one fears-out of indolence,continues to allow resultsof research of its neighboringdisciplines to go unobserved,and orientsitself, with regardto content as well as methodologypermanently and almost exclusivelytowards the predecessorsof its own discipline } 6). What can be done? Perhapsthe applicationof recentcon-

. . .

5) The

lack of interest and method in classical studies in Taiwan and the

heavily political tone of recent post-CulturalRevolution works add to the dilemma. One thinks of some of the interpretationsof poems by Kuo Mo-jo

gt

in his study, Li

Po

yis Tu Fx

f

t4itJrX

(Peking: Chung-hua

shu-chu, I97^), or the latest revision of Liu Ta-chieh's RIJ7t7¢>Chung-kgo

wen-hsixehfa-chan-shih @ S $1;t Mg t (Yol. I; Shanghai:Jen-min ch'u-pan

she, I973;

vol. 2,

I975)

which praises (in chapter I, vol. 2) highly the four so-

called "Legalist" poets, I,i Po, Li Ho, Li Shang-yin and Liu Tsung-yuan,

feels it necessary to mildly chastise Tu Fu, and ends in a depiction of the close cultural relationships between T'ang China and Heian Japan, to which is appendedthe hope for continuedpresent-day good relationsbetween the two nations. Two other important works in the last few years published in the People's Republic illustrate the inadequacy of these studies as aids in translation (and suggest in the latter case possibly the inadequacy of

the editorial staff as well): Chang Shih-chao g

+ iIJ, Liu-wen chih-yao

00

;ttE]X

(Peking: Chung-hua shu-chu, I97I),

a study

of Liu Tsung-

yuan's prose written is

classical Chixese, and the newest edition of the

Hsix T'axg-shg gfi24 (Peking: Chung-hua-shu-chu,I975), in which there are practically no notes or commentary (in contrast to, for example, the

detailedexegesis of the I959 Chung-huashu-chu edition of the Shih-chi t =-e) . 6) In his "Literaturwissenschaftund Arabistik, Einzellfall oder Symptom einer 'Altertumswissenschaft'?", Die Weltdes Orients,7 (I974), pp. o59-z66.

50

WILLIAM H. NIENHAUSER

JR.

cepts of language to our needs would produce at least a provisional solution. For example, Saussurian-influencedlinguists and literary critics have long divided language (langage) into the particular

language system of a nation or period (langue) and the

manner of

speech of an individual within this system (parole).Such a dichotomy calls quite naturally for dictionaries (for langue) and concordances

(to classify parole of a single author, work, or school). Moreover,

these concepts correspondwell to two

important features of diction:

vocabulary and trope 7). They

would provide for the

description of

the literal or denotative meaning (dictionaries) and

the figurative

or connotative values (to be found to some extent in dictionaries,

but primarily in concordances),and finally the understanding and recording of special

(gradually, at least) for or symbolic readings of

a tradition or corpus 8). But before one sets out to describe in detail lexicographicdesider- ata, perhaps some attempt should be made to describe what is currently available. With no claim to completeness and in the interests primarily of this study (which is concernedwith the trans-

lation of poetry), five works beg mention: i) Morohashi Tetsuji

ft:d-, Daikanwa jiten

.t

-

t

(I2

vols.; Tokyo: Taishiukan

shoten, I955-I960 [hereafterDaikanwa]); 2) Chang Ch'i-yiin T; v],

Chung-wenta-tz'u-tien -p 'M'(38 vols.; Taipei: Chung-kuowen- hua yen-chiu-so, I962-I968 [hereafterChung-wen]); 3) P'ei-wen yiin-

fu Wrffigf (7 vols.; Shanghai: CommercialPress, I937 [hereafter J)'ei-wen]); 4) P'ien-tzu lei-pien 9) # JM (Shanghai: T'ung-wen

shu-chii, I887

[hereafter P'ien-tzu]); and 5) Chang Hsiang Tt IR

j

fa

Slhih-tz'u-ch'iiyii-tz'u hui-shih S

(Hong Kong: Chung-

hua shu-chii, i962). The first four of these works are quite exhaus-

The original passage reads:

". . .

fuir eine Wissenschaft, die es sich z.T. aus

organisatorischen Griinden, z. T. unter den Alibi der notwendigen Erlernung schwieriger Sprachen und z. T.-so ist zu befiirchten-aus Bequemlichkeit weitgehend gestattet, Forschungsergebnisse ihrer Nachbarfacher unbeachtet

zu lassen und sich standig fast ausschliesslich-sowohl inhaltlich als auch

methodisch-an ihren innerfachlichen Vorgangern orientiert

....

[p. 259]."

7) See Maureen Robertson's comments, "Poetic Diction in the Works of

Li

He (791-817),"

 

(Unpublished Ph. D. dissertation, UJniversity of WXashing-

ton,

1970),

p.

v.

8) Each personal symbol of every school or author cannot, of course, be identified, but certain important traditional symbols and those for which a poet may be well known should be; cf. also note 38. 9) Now infinitely more convenient to use since the publication of Wallace S. Johnson, Jr.'s (fA,E) P'ien-tzu lei-pien yin-te 1 I-1 (Taipei: Ssu-k'u

shu-Cllii,

T966).

THE TRANSLATION

OF CLASSICAL CHINESE

POETRY

5I

tive in their inclusion of graphs. Yet it is precisely this feature which proves a major drawback, for it shifts the emphasis from diachronic changes in meaning which are so important in any language. It is noteworthy, too, that these four works are all arranged accord- ing to traditional Chinese methods (rhyme or radical). No attention has been paid to the Chinese "words" themselves. No cognates listed, no archaic pronunciations given 10). Moreover, glosses are often based upon traditional commentaries and much too vague ("the appearance of water flowing," etc.) which tends to produce translations more dependent upon the poetic sense of the translator (and thus often virtually new poems) than semantic exactness. Teng Ssu-yui and Knight Biggerstaff, in their An Annotated Bibliography of Selected Chinese Reference Works 11), suggest that the Chung-wen is only "partly based" upon the Daikanwa. They provide character and compound counts which imply certain ad- ditions made by the Chung-wen editors. These editors have also reputedly carefully checked the citations given in Daikanwa before incorporating them 12). Endymion Wilkinson, however, in his dis-

10) Despite Peter Boodberg's complaint that in sinology ' the study of the living tissue of the word has almost completely been neglected in favor of

that of the graphic integument encasing it," in "Some Proleptical Remarks on the Evolution of Archaic Chinese", HJAS, 2 (I937), pp. 329-372 (quota- tion from p. 329), this aspect of etymological studies has been shamelessly

neglected.

This has resulted in the publication of works such as Chang Hsiian's

r*

U

,'

E .F

P X

M, Chung-wen ch'ang-yung san-ch'ien tzu hsing-i shih

T (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, I968), which, as Paul L.-M. Serruys has noted in his review (Journal of Chinese Linguistics, I.3 [Septem- ber I973], p. 479) "deals with the graphic aspects and not 'etymology,' i.e. the relation between graph and word in its sound and meaning." One of the

few scholars to apply such considerations to translation is Todo Akiyasu-

see his " Kodaigo no imi to koten no kaidoku" t ftOf C M

- t

Xgk C

O

(The Meaning of Ancient Words and the Decipherment of the Classics),

Nihon Ch?igokugakkai ho, I3 (I96I), pp.

I32-I44;

see also Todo's Kanji gogen

jiten; Bernhard Karlgren, "Cognate Words in Chinese Phonetic Series,"

BMFEA,

28(I956),

pp. i-i 8; Karlgren, "Word Families in Chinese, "BMFEA

5(I934), pp. 9-I20; and E. G. Pulleyblank, "Some New Hypotheses Con- cerning Word Families in Chinese," Journal of Chinese Linguistics, i . i

(January

1973),

pp.

III-I25.

11) 3rd ed.; Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 1971, p. I33.

12) In a spot check of the characters discussed by Teng and Biggerstaff, i - (one) and huang fi (yellow), a textual error in Daikanwa had been

corrected in Chung-wen: the title Huang-ho-lou ming r

tAit

,

cited prop-

erly in Chung-wen, vol. 38, p. I7030,

item 489o4.133b, was given incorrectly

in Daikanwa,

vol.

12,

p.

13549,

item

47926.I44,

as

Huang-ho-lou

lu iW.

  • 52 WILLIAM H. NIENHAUSER

JR.

cussion of the relative merits of these two

works (in The History

of Imperial China, A Research Guide [Cambridge: Harvard Univer- sity Press, I973, p. 9]) calls the Chung-wen a "Chinese version of

the Dai kanzea jiten." These descriptions are so typical of those heard among sinologists today, that a study of the indebtcdness of the Chung-zwen to the Daikanwa would certainly prove of great interest 13). The former, although it seems to list more compounds

as Teng and Biggerstaff have pointed out, is sometimes less detailed in its glosses or definitions (compare the two page section under

Lun-yii ,

in Daikanwa, vol. I0, pp. I0960-I096I,

item 35658.35

to the four-sentence textual history of the same work given in

Chung-zwen,vol. 3I,

p. I3532,

item 365II.75.

Although cross ref-

erences are given in Chung-wen, they do not provide the specific item-number information cited in Daikanzwa. Moreover, occasionally Chung-zeen lists a figurative meaning without indicating it as such

(cf. i-tao liang-tuan -

j

glosses in Daikanzea, vol. I, p. 4I, item

I.I457

and Chung-wen,vol. I, p. 5, item I.4I).

Finally, some graphs

Liu Yeh-ch'iu IJt4 t, moreover, warns against discrepancies between pas-

sages cited in P'ei-wen and original texts, see his Chung-kuo ku-tai te tzu-tien

1EJ#

(Peking: Chung-huashu-chii, I964),

pp.

I32-I33.

13) Reviews and studies of sinological lexicographic aids in general such as

Wang I-t'ung's ZETW "Tz'u-hai k'an-wu" a a Correctionsto the Tz'u-hai), CHHP, 2. i(May I960),

(Critical Notes and

pp. I30-I42

or Iriya

Yoshitaka's A,N & Ai review of Chang Hsiang's Shih-tz'u-ch'ii yi-tz'u hui-

shih in Chilgokubungakuh5, I(I954),

pp. 137-I56,

are all too uncommon.

The work of Irwin von Zach is the outstanding exception. His Lexicographi-

sche Beitrdge (4 vols.; Peking, 1902-06) and corrections

and additions to

various reference works (both Chinese and Western) are still of importance (see Alfred Hoffman's bibliography of von Zach's work in his "Dr. Erwin

Ritter

von

Zach

[1872-1942],"

OE,

Io[i963], pp. i-6o). For example, in a

recent lively discussion with several scholars (including one traditionally educated native sinologist) the simile "tsui ju ni" a AnF (drunk as "mud") which had been encountered in a Tu Fu poem elicited some minutes of personal drinking stories and dissertations on Tu Fu's morals, before the poem itself was ruled untranslatable because of this uniquely recalcitrant figure of speech. A chance paging of von Zach's Beitrage several months thereafter revealed the solution (vol. II, p. 8, item #279; a check in P'ei- weenor Daikanwa would have revealed as much, but none of the group was bothered by the common term ni E [mud] enough to consult a dictionary):

ni in this trope refers to an organism which lives primarily in water and

sways and reels as if intoxicated when set upon the dry land. Von Zach's translations of Li Po (some 985 verses out of a total of roughly I ioo), inciden- tally, have been edited by Professor Hoffman, and are at last to appear as a

volume in the series

Veroffentlichungen des Ostasien-Institutes der Ruhr-

Unlversitdt Bochumnin the near future.

THE TRANSLATION

OF CLASSICAL CHINESE

POETRY

53

are glossed in more detail in Daikanwa (compare the ten items under huang-ho AM [yellow crane] in Daikanwa, vol. I2, Pp. I3458- I3459, items 47926.I36-I45 to Chung-wen'snine, vol. 38, p. I7030, items 48904.I336-I344). Thus it seems these two works should be used as complements, inuch in the manner that the Ssu-k'tt ch'iian- shu tsung-mueditors advocated employing the P'ei-wenand P'ien-tzu. These two large phrase dictionaries, the P'ei-wen and P'ien-tzu, contain many of the faults of their modern successors. Their corpora of examples are larger, but their design facilitates composition more

than exegesis (thus they often

do not give titles to works cited, but

merely genres as an indication of usage). They are, moreover, some- what limited to imagistic or substantival compounds. The fifth work mentioned above, that of Chang Hsiang, deals primarily with colloquialisms in the various poetic genres from the T'ang through the Ming periods. It cites examples, gives definitions, and, to some degree indicates the usage of a compound or word (see

its preface, p. I) 13). The most apparent weakness of all these works is also that which unites them: they are all based upon traditional commentaries and editions. The P'ei-wen and P'ien-tzu have undoubtedly provided much of the material for their contemporary counterparts, the Chung-wen and the Daikanwa, which are essentially abridged versions of these earlier works, punctuated, with glosses taken from traditional commentaries. Given the deficiencies of these works, it seems imperative that new dictionaries and concordances (which will in turn allow lexicographers to select their illustrations from a broader corpus) be compiled. To this topic, however, ample discussion will be allowed in the postface. In anticipation of the appended suggestions for the improvement of existing reference works, the author must apologize for the failure of the following translations and analyses to meet all the standards of contemporary literary criticism. It is to be hoped, however, that the inadequacies of these translations may illustrate not only the author's shortcomings, but further the need for the materials and methodology called for in the postface below.

THE

POEMS

A Demonstrationof the Role of Dictionaries and Concordancesin Translation and Exegesis

The first poem with which this study will attempt to portray some of the problems involved in translating classical Chinese poetry

54

WILLIAM H. NIENHAUSER

JR.

is the initial of a thirty-eight piece allegorical series of five-syllable- line, old-style verses by Ch'en Tzu-ang J, y-pp (A.D. 66I-70I)

entitled "Kan-yii"

ga

(Moved by Events [literally 'Moved by

What Has Happened']) 14):

m

miai

XNA

yiuaet

S

tshiuit

sei

'

hai 15)

qiau

njuen

9-

qiim

thai

iay

kuay

bA

phaek

khiak

sam

tsiii

sam

yiuaen

tsiey

nui

sia

tsiey

ED

id

shaey

kiiy

liay

shiuii

thai

tiy

a

tiet

then

sidy

man

im

YiaY

thisi

jpiaei

hiagy

sie

tshdi

nai

tiay 16)

14) On Ch'en Tzu-ang and this series in particular see Man-wui Ho, "Ch'en Tzu-ang (66I-702), Innovator in T'ang Poetry," (Unpublished Ph. D. disser-

tation, London University,

1975),

especially section 2, chapter 3.

15) This poem is transcribed according to Hugh Stimson's Middle-Chinese reconstructions (see Stimson, The Jongyuan in yunn [New Haven: Far Eastern Publications, I966]) which attempts to reproduce the pronunciation of the early T'ang period. I have further used this transcription system for the other T'ang poems under discussion, although E. G. Pulleyblank's work on the changes in mid- and late-T'ang pronunciation could also have been considered (see his "The Rhyming Categories of Li Ho [79I-817]," CHHP, 7[I969], [pp. 1-22] p. 5: "Though the evidence cited shows the shift in linguis-

tic standards already in the first half of the eighth century, I have not so

far found evidence of its effect on poetic rhyming

until around 8oo.

 

.";

Old Mandarin

readings. Poems or excerpts of poems fromi reference wN-orks

have not been transcribed.

 

16) Ch'en Tzu--ang chi 0

$

(Peking: Chung-hua shu-chu,

i96o),

p.

2;

Kao Pu-ying

Ai9

ig , T'ang Sung shih chii-yao

)f 51 3g

  • I (Hong Kong:

Chung-hua shu-chii, 1973), vol. I, pp. I-3; Ch'en Po-yii

wen-chi 1

it

,

ch.

I,

fol.

2a

(SPTK);

and Ch'iian T'ang shih

;ff

(Peking: Chung-hua

shu-chii, 1960)

[hereafter Shih], ch. 83, pp. 889-890.

 

and his "Late Middle Chinese," AM, 15[1970], pp. 197-239, AM, i6[i97T], pp. 12I-I68). To transcribe Li Ch'ing-chao's verse I have employed Stimson's

THE TRANSLATION

OF CLASSICAL CHINESE

POETRY

55

As the faint moon emerges from the western sea, A dimmed sun begins to rise and take its place.

When its globular glare floods the East, The shadowy soul will already be frozen in the dawn. From the Great Ultimate rose heaven and earth,

The

three primaries decline and flourish in turn.

The quintessence, one suspects, resides in that, But who can be certain on the night of the fifteenth? 17)

This poem and the entire "Kan-yiu"series are generally considered to be allegorical 18). One interpretation of this verse identifies the

usurper, Empress Wu R

(r. A.D. 690-705), with the moon, and

her son, the legitimate ruler, with the sun whose light will inevitably grow so strong as to obliterate his moon-mother. Other readings of the poem find no sun at all, but see it as a depiction of the phases

of the moon 19). These interpretations are weakened, however, by

astronomical verity, for when the moon is full (on the fifteenth

of the lunar month) as it

is in this poem, its rise and set are exactly

opposite that of the sun. At midnight it is directly overhead, as the sun is at noon, and in the morning at approximately 6 a.m. it sets

while gradually being made invisible by the light of the rising sun 20).

Although such knowledge may be arcane to

many a humanist today,

the T'ang poets, who often sat up through the night moon-viewing or were required to rise and go to court in the pre-dawn, were

certainly cognizant of it. But one would hope to be able to demon- strate that there is strong evidence supporting this interpretation within the text itself, emphasizing especially what can be learned from dictionaries and concordances. The first line is of particular interest. It was conventional to speak of the crescent moon (miai yiuaet, fl) rising or appearing in the West, since it is there that it first becomes visible (having risen in the East during daylight hours) in the early evening of the

17) Variants

are

t

for lLS (line one),

IL for

ft

(line two),

and

'f

for 1E

(line three).

18)

During the T'ang it was a practice to use "Kan-yii"

as a vehicle

for

political criticism; see Chiu T'ang shu *

J,

ch. I30,

fol. 3a (PN).

 

19) See Ho, "Ch'en," for a discussion of the various traditional interpreta-

tions.

56

WILLIAM H. NIENHAUSER

JR.

first week

Hsulan J4

of the

lunar month 21).

(A.D. 2I7-278):

Ch'en's line echoes

closely

Fu

The slight moon rises in the western quarter 22).

In "Kan-yil,"

better

be taken

as an allusion

a Measure) 23) chapter

of the

Cheng-hsieh

Mt TE

(A.D.

"Yiieh sheng yui hai" ,A

i

however, there is a full moon. Thus this first line can

to the

"Li ch'i" fT-,

(Take Ritual as

Li

chi 1TO (Book

of Rites),

as Yii

 

has noted

in

his

short

essay

I775-I840)

(The Moon is Born from the Sea) 24).

The original Li chi passage reads:

The way of heaven is the highest teaching, the sage the highest

[manifestation]

of

virtue.

In

the

ancestral

temple

the

jar

with

clouds

and lightning

represented upon it stood on the

eastern steps,

and that

with

the

ox on it on the

western.

Down

in the hall, the larger drums were suspended in the west,

and

the smaller drums answering

to them

in

the

east.

The ruler

appeared

on the

top

of the

eastern steps,

his wife was

in the

apartment

(to the west).

The great luminary

(sun) makes his

appearance in the east; the moon makes her appearance in the

west 25).

Such are the divisions

of yin and yang, and such are

the positions

of husband and wife. The ruler in the west pours

his cup from the jar with the ox represented

upon

it,

his wife

in the

east fills hers from that

of clouds and lightning.

When

the ritual pledges are made to one another above, and the

21) See, for example Juan Chi's KfN (A.D. 2Io-263), "Yung-huai"

#7,

Juan Pu-ping

chi

G

in Han Wei Liu-ch'ao pai-erh chi A

2/

C

A

_-i (Taipei: Hsin-hsing shu-chui, i963), section 4 (Wei), fol. 65a, p. 240, a poem belonging to a series which commentators have often claimed in- fluenced Ch'en's "Kan-yii". 22) The translation is Jordan Paper's, "The Life and Thought of Fu Hsiian

(A.D.

217-278),"

(Unpublished

Ph.

D. dissertation,

University

of Wisconsin,

I970),

p.

I3I.

Chin shih" -

The original line can be found in Ting Fu-pao T Vy,

"Ch'iian

E,

,

in Ch'iian Han San-kuo Chin Nan-pei ch'ao shih

-

Effl:ffMk#A:1,

(Taipei: I-wen yin-shu-kuan,

I96I),

ch. 2,

fol.

I4b (p. 400).

23)

On the

title

of this

chapter see Karlgren, "Glosses on the Li Ki,"

BMFEA,

43(I97I),

p.

25.

24)

Kuei-ssu ts'un-hao

4P ,

(Reprint; Shanghai: Shang-wu

yin-shu-

kuan,

I957),

pp. 54-55.

I would

like to thank

pointing out this passage. 25) Author's italics.

Ms. Sharon

Shih-chuan

Hou

for

THE TRANSLATIONOF CLASSICALCHINESE POETRY

57

music echoes (from drum to drum) below, this is the ultimate of harmony 26),

iXi«,

Ai82W-

22S,

§tAt

XttA.

tXttS.

X R#68.

rkt2w,

RegA§},

>XtA.XtFt,

t-E

tESgt.

ARA.

tAXSg.

MER)1R2L, xp!ST;,

4Rt&-A-

AMS

T|2i

27

References to the contemporary political situation in Ch'en Tzu-

ang's day

are obvious. The association of empress, west, moon, and

propriety is also significant. By alluding to this passage, the poem

proposes that the empress return to her the Confucianritual. The second line describes the growth

proper place according to

of qiX-iag

,

literally

"the obscured yang," a term which accordingto the referenceworks

originated with Ch'en Tzu-ang 28), Our understanding of this term

is based upon an Erh-yagE

gloss: ,t

29). The sun is not nor-

mally obscured and this discord suggests again the underlying al-

legory (sun-legitimate

ruler obscuredby

his mother). Associations

of the sun and moon with female and male are common from the legend of Hou I S X and Ch'ang O XR through the theories of F.

Max Muller. Traditionally, of course, the sun and moon have also functioned as symbols of emperor and empress. In Yang Chen's

%t

(d. A.D. I24) biography in the Hog Han shg &,

ample, one finds the following:

for ex-

If women are entrusted with tasks involving contact with the outside, cause they will disorder and confusion in the empire, harm and bring shame on the Imperial court, and sully sun and moon (i.e. Emperorand Empress). A R X X, M GLX X, g t iX, # ,%El X 30).

26) Author's translation having consulted James Legge, TheLi Ki (Oxford:

Clarendon Press, I885),

vol.

2,

p.

4II

and Takeuchi

Teruo t

"e,

vol. I (Tokyo: Kabushiki kaisha, I97I),

pp.

373-374.

27)

Li-chi cheng-ii&,

ch 24, fol

sb (sPPy)

t

H>>,

28)

See Daikanwa, vol. 4, p. 3944, item 9205.439; Chmng-wen,vol.

Ri ki

II,

p.

47II,

item

g4II.230;

P'ei-wen, vol. 2, p. g6g-middle; and P'ien-tz>, ch. 238,

fol. 38a.

Both Daikanwaand

Chgng-wengloss it as "moon." However, Gerty

Kallgren, in her "Studies in Sung Time Colloquial Chinese as Revealed in

Chu Hi's Ts'"an shg," BMFEA, 30(I958), p. 9, notes in her discussion

of

these reference works that the earliest citation given therein does not always

indicate that the term originated in that passage.

29) See Eth-ya yin-tc 18e

(Reprint; Taipei: Ch'eng-wen Publishing Co.,

I965),

p. 3, section

IB, paragraph 36.

30)

Fan Yeh

t

, HoqxHan shg (Hong Kong: Chung-hua shu-chu, I97I),

vol.

7, p.

I76I.

The translation is that of Robert H. van Gulik, SexmalLife in

Sncient Chixa (Leiden: E. J. Brill, I96I), pp. 86-87.

8

WILLIAMH. NIENHAUSER JR.

This passage is excerpted from a memorial Yang Chen tried to present to rexeal the illicit activities of the daughter of Emperor An's tW (r. A.D. I07-I26) wet nurse, one Po Jung AX 31).This second line further signifies a royal succession in the words thai fe "to replace" and si # "to ascend." The latter term, and thus the entire )oem, belongs to the tsieg -7g rhyme, which counts among its lneanings "lord, ruler" and "to have sexual relations with a woman of a higher social status than oneself" 32), Again a topical )urport is a)parent, for Empress Wu practiced this violation of propriety

every time she engaged in sexual

relations with any of her subjects.

This final word in line two, sieg, also initiates a crescendo built by

the series of velar nasals of the third line: nj?,lenkag tsiegtzg man. They accompany the sun's splendorousrise in the East (one is llere teml)ted to think of present-day parallels). Another example of the

use of man aZ, (to fill) to describe the s?n's light (the term is more often associated with the full moon, as is cited by those who favor

the "phases-of-the-moonreading") can porary verse by Li Ch'iao W (A.D. (The Sun):

be found in a near-contem- 644-7I3) entitled "Jih" E

Amidst the clouds its [the sun'sg five colors grow full 33). The fourth line completes the first quatrain. Qizm-phaeke t*,

31) Tllis wet-nurse was ennobled and allowe(l to live in tlle palace. When her daughter visited her she brought bribes. Yang Chen dared to openly criticize this family and their allies, tlle imperial-in-laws and the eunuchs. He was later disgraced and took llis own life; cf. also T'ung-tsu Ch'u, Hax Social strTGctGre (Seattle and London: University of Washington Press, 1962),

pp. 464-466

32)

This gloss explains 4<

(g)

as shan<gr-yineiX

(upwarcl licentiousness).

This term is in turn glossed in Daikanwa, vol. I, p. I97, itenl I3.I4, as rela-

tions with a woman of higher social status. The locss classicus cited is Hsiao

Erh-ya /J \ a (Shgo-fg ed.,

fol. 4a). The context there is reminiscent of the

passage from the Li chi cited above: "When a man and a woman do not base their relations on ritual, tlliS iS called licentiousness. Upward licentiousness is termed tsieS [,73]". The term is also often used to describe incestuous re- lations. Empress Wu, of course, served in the harems of both T'ai-tsung and Kao-tsung. Althougll r}lynae categories given in the T'ang examinations usually corre- sponded semantically to the themes, one cannot be sure that this holds valid for T'ang poetry in general. Nevertheless all rhyme words are semantically joined to a certain extent, cf. Jonathan Culler, Strgsturalist Poetics (London:

Routledge and Kegan Paul, I975), p. 66. 33) Shih, ch^.59, p. 700. See also note 73.

THE

TRANSLATION

OF

CLASSICAL

CHINESE

POETRY

59

literally

Li

Ching-fang

Pavilion):

"the yin soul," was a not uncommon epithet for the moon.

iT a

(fl. A.D. 825-850) wrote the following lines

i

M m

(A View from the Heavenly

for his "T'ien-t'ai chien wang"

PtOR

34)

The yang raven [sun] spreads its wings at dawn;

The yin soul [moon], lets

fly its wheel

in the night.

The entire fourth line may also be read (out of context) as "The yin

soul has already established herself at court"; (reading tieu-yfiay

# g as an inversion and using the Kuang-ya % a gloss ting t for

yiag [cf.

Daikanwa,

vol.

2,

p. I243,

item

I720,

gloss

i.e

under

heading] although "frozen" or "congealed" at court would also

work well). In any event

this final graph, yiag

ik "to freeze,"

re-

tards the forward motion of the poem in favor of a final view of the

heavenly changes of influence.

The following

passage

from the Ch'un-ch'iu fan-lu

W75c9s

of

Tung Chung-shu M- 4f {rI

(ca. I79-ca.

I04

B.C.) might also have been

called to mind by this first quatrain:

Heaven

had its dual operation of yin and yang (passive and

active cosmic forces), and the person also has his dual nature

of humanity

and greed. There are cases when Heaven restricts

the operation

of yin and yang, and there are cases when the

person weakens his feelings and desires. [The way of man] and

the Way

of Heaven

are the same. Consequently as yin func-

tions, it cannot interfere with spring or summer

(which corre-

spond to yang),

and the full moon is always overwhelmed by sun-

light, so that at one moment it is full

and at another it is not 35).

This

is

the

way

Heaven

restricts

the

operation of yin. How

can [man] not

reduce his desires and stop

his feelings

(both

corresponding

to yin) in order to respond to Heaven ? As the

person restricts what Heaven restricts, it is therefore said that

the person is similar to Heaven 36).

X,

34) See Ch'iian T'ang shih-hIua - W flA, ch. 4, fol. 4ib in Helmut Martin,

Index, vol.

I, p. II7,

#04089.i8.

See also

Shih, ch. 508,

p. 5774.

35)

Author's italics.

 

36) The translation is that of Wing-tsit Chan, Source-book in Chinese Phi-

losophy (Princeton: Princeton University

Press, I963),

p.

274.

,

  • 60 WILLIAM H. NIENHAUSER

JR.

SS:E;t}Ei4eFe,

44JlWtt.

SiA

@ XR1RAH,;h?efWt.,

..

dominanceof the sun over the full moon.

The first binomeof the fifth line, thai-kAiaki @E,leads the reader

from the observatoryto the pages of the I-ching %#g (Book of

Changes).In Daikanwa,vol. 3, p. 2700, item 5834.93 one finds

thai-kAiakglossed as the "originalmatter of the universe"with a

referenceto the Hsi-tz'qo*S

finds the followingpassage:

commentaryto the I-chi1og.There one

Thereforein the changes[or Book of Chaxges]there is the Great

Ultimate,which produced the two ElementaryForms. The two

ElementaryForms producedthe Four Figurations.The Four

Figurations give birth to the Eight Trigrams.The Eight

Trigramsserve to determinethe auspiciousand the baleful,

and the auspiciousand the balefulgive rise to the great affairs

[of the throne].Therefore among models and figurationsthere

is nothinggreater than heaven and earth; amongtransforma-

tions and successions,nothing is greaterthan the fourseasons;

of figurationssuspended (in the sky) conspicuousand bright,

there are none greaterthan the sun and the moon. Rt%4%;

'-t.

XXit.

XtR4.

"\ttX

38)

The two ElementaryForms are, of course,yin and yang (-- and

-). The Four Figurationsare those "bigrams"upon which the

trigramswere based:new yang _,

old yang =,

new yin

__

, and

old yin _-39). This passagesets the generaltone of the poem, one

of change. The diction of the piece supportsthis tone variously.

First, there is the progressionof time seen in the first quatrain:

tshiuzt,, sif t^, tsieg iE, and

if

man jX, giag iX, shaeS,

kisg ,

E,. The verbal effects of thai X,

piasi ,

and hiag g

all involve

37)

38)

Ch. IO, fol. 3b (SPPY).

ChoqxI, ch. 7, fol. IOb-IIa

(SPTK).

39) See James Legge, The Yi King (Oxford:Clarendon Press, I882),

p.

I2.

THE TRANSLATION

OF CLASSICAL CHINESE

POETRY

6I

some form of change. The passage also suggests wider reading in

works such as the Ts'an-t'ung-ch'i $ HM attributed to Wei Po-

yang S /E M (d. A.D. I42) 40) of the Later Han. finds, indeed, numerous passages concerning the

In this work one relationships and

successions of the sun and the moon, and two specifically concerned with the triumph of the yang powers on the night of the fifteenth 41).

The fifth line further suggests both heavenly (describedin the first quatrain) and earthly (implied in the same four lines) developments are controlled by the Great Ultimate. That these concepts were not only politically significant at this time, but also Ch'en's personal predilections can be seen in the following excerpt from a letter he wrote in A.D. 674:

... With regard to the way of heaven and earth, there is nothing more significant than yin and yang; with regard to

the spiritual nature of all living things, there is nothing more significant than the human race; with regardto the responsibil-

ities of a kingly

government, nothing is of greater import than

pacifying the people. Therefore,if one pacifies the people, then yin and yang will be in accord; if yin and yang are in accord, then heaven and earth will be at peace; if heaven and earth are

at peace, then the original ether 42)

will

be properly positioned.

i}tAM~~~~0RI

T,,M ftAm2f-fi; IT

R]5-

E ,

43

40) See especially Joseph Needham, Science and Civilization in China, vol. 5 (forthcoming), part III and Fukui K6jun, "A Study of the Chou-i ts'an-

t'ung-ch'i", Acta Asiatica, 26 (I974), pp. 19-32. Needham's comments on the general contents of the Ts'an-t'ung-ch'i (vol. 2, p. 441) are also of relevance:

"In this work we find an elaborate correlation between the eight trigrams (kua) and the denary cycle of stems' (kan), serving to symbolize the various stages of the movements of the sun and moon, and hence the supposed fluctuations, waxing, and wanings of the Yang and Yin influences in the world." 41) See Ts'an-t'ung-ch'i chi-chieh %, ch. A, fol. i6a and fol. 44b (Hsiueh- chin t'ao-yizan ed.). The latter passage is specially apt, for it strengthens the association of the verb man A with the sun: "The moon on the fifteenth

exchanges glances with the sun

. .

. one knows by illustration

the time of the round and full fire of yang [i.e., of the sun]."

that

this

is

33E

+ I

T_i

42) Ch'en had just defined yiian-ch'i iJr (original ether) in the preceding

passage as "the origin of heaven and earth, the ancestor of all living things,

the great principle of princely rule" X

Atl.

ti12

eAt1

2

a

i

ik

43) Ch'en Po-yii wen-chi, ioa-iob.

The entire letter (fol. 9b-14b) discusses

62

WILLIAM H. NIENHAUSER

JR.

It is obvious that both in language and in spirit (according at least to the interpretation presented herein) this passage bears close re- semblance to our poetic text. Yet another significance might be read into this line, given that one of the basic semantic associations of every word is that of its antonym 44). This is especially true in the parallel style of much of classical Chinese poetry. In this verse alone there are the expressed

pairs qidn 9 (dim) / iay M (sun), tiy ; (east) / sei Ej(west), then i

(heaven) / thiii }t

(earth) and piaei jk (decline)/ hidy x

(flourish).

Would it be a misinterpretation to infer the unexpressed siii yg (death) to foil shaey t (birth-here rendered as "rose")? Support for this reading might be found in Yen Yen-chih's ft (A.D. 384-456) "Sung Wen huang-ti Yuan Huang-hou ai-ts'e-wen" 3

t rL- AM3X (Epidecium for Emperor Wen of Sung's Empress

Yuan [Wen hsiian 3U,

ch. 58, fol. ia-6b (SPTK)]). Therein one

finds a similar vocabulary and the line , A ,I (In the dawn the

moon lets rise its soul). Although this may merely be a metonymic portrayal of the moon at dawn (i.e., on the point of its "death"), it has been interpreted as the "ascension of the soul-spirit into heaven" by the T'ang dynasty Wen hsiian commentator, Lu Yen-

chi

g

g45).

the movements of the sun and moon. This attention to the heavens and their relationship to man and his machinations was typical of the T'ang, see

 

Schafer's remarks in his review of Twitchett and Wright, eds., Perspectives, JAOS, 95.3(July-September I975), p. 471, on "the concordance between celestial and terrestial powers" and Burton Watson, Chinese Lyricism (New York: ColunmbiaUniversity Press, 1971), p. I32 and p. I34.

44)

See, for example, Yoshihiko Ikegami's "ME Dight: A Structural Study

in the Obsolescence of Words," Proceedings of the Department of Foreign Language and Literature, College of General Education, University of Tokyo, XI.4(I963), pp. 1-63 (especially pp. 3 ff.). 45) For the original text of this commentary, see Wen hsiian, ch. 58, fol. 5b. On Lii Yen-chi and the other five T'ang commentators (all flourished during the K'ai-yiian period [A.). 713-742] and seem to have been acquainted with one another), cf. Hsin T'ang shu, vol. i 8, ch. 202, pp. 5758-5759 (20 vols.; Peking: Clhung-hua shu-chiu, 1975). It is interesting to note how little one knows today of these men whose commentaries probably provided the intro- luction to the singly most important literary work of T'ang times. It may be

that their exegesis had become practically an integral part of the Wen hsiian, which therefore somelhow no longer allowed them to be considered commen- tators. A similar case is that of the two relatively unknown T'ang Shih-chi

exegetes, Ssu-ma

Cheng , AA and Chang Shou-chieh 3 g 0. These devel-

opments reflect as well, it would seem, the social transformations of the literati class during the late T'ang and early Sung periods; see also note 2.

THE TRANSLATIONOF CLASSICALCHINESE POETRY

63

In the sixth line sam-g1,uasnvT: may refer to the three

great

full moons(of the first, seventh,and tenth lunarmonths), the three

eras of any imperial reign46),

and, perhaps, even to the three

original dynasties of Hsia, Shang, and Chou (EmpressWu had

styled her house Chou).Such a successionwould fit well with the

final two graphsof the line, piaei hi W ^.

The first wordof the final couplet,this tsieg i 3W(quintessence),

takes one againback to the I-ching:

If it [the I-ching]were not the quintessenceof all underheaven,

how could it be concernedin this? tiTAig,

JLe 47)

tS,Xt

But an even morereliable context for quintessenceis foundin the

secondline of the sixth poemof the {'Kan-y" series:

Eh:ffi"kXt,

48Xt,

75thM3g.

^MWH

48)

WhenI observethe changesof the dragon,

I understandthe quintessenceof yang;

The forestof rocks,how darkand dense!

The obscuredcave, no one to stay his leaving!

This quatrainbrings the readerback, however,to the first hexa-

gram, ch'ien t; (-), of the I-ching. The "changesof the dragon"

refers to the exegesis of the six lines of this hexagramand their

correspondingcommentaries. Dragon is, of course,the symbol of

the emperor,and the advice containedwithin the I-chingexegesis

is intendedto guide his conduct.The quintessenceof yang is both

this hexagram,composed of six yang lines, and the emperorhim-

self. The "forestof rocks"alludes to Tso Ssu's A., (fl. ca. A.D.

300) "Wu-tufu" %%R (Prose-poemon the Capitalof Wu) an(l

indicatesa dangerousplace or situation(according to the Daikanwa,

46) These glosses are all given by Daikanwa, vol. I, p. I29, item I2.475C,

On the three eras of an imperial reign, see '{Fu Chien tsai-chi" 0:eQE

(Chronic]esof Fu Chien)in the Chin shg E @, ch. II4, fol. Ia-2a (translation

by Michael C. Rogers, The Chronicleof Fg Chien: A Case of ExemplGlry

History [Berkeley:University of CaliforniaPress, I968], p. I54. Rogers notes

(p. 263, n. 535) that the phrase "three cycles" is not common in secular

literature, but a Bud(lhist term, the last cycle [mo-fa, t.t] being charac-

teristic of the Dharma'sdegeneration and ultimate extinction).

47)

Ch. 7, fol ga

64

WILLIAM H. NIENHAUSER

JR.

vol

..

8, P. 8470, item 24024.835b)-i.e.,

the dilemma of the emperor

at that time. The cave in which the dragon is obscured (cf. the

explication

of the

first line

of the

ch'ien hexagram:

"The hidden

dragon must not be employed;" j 1to, Chou I, ch. i, fol. Ia

[SPTK])

is specified by the same modifier (iui

S) used to describe

the yang

(sun) in line

two

above.

To "stay his leaving"

is taken

from Mencius

49);

it alludes

to

the

King of Ch'i's attempts

to con-

vince Mencius through an intermediary not to leave. Mencius, how-

ever, felt

the king should have

recalled him personally,

and left

Ch'i. This could refer to the empress' failure to keep righteous ad-

visors (or the emperor himself) at court.

The final line of the poem seems straightforward and unam-

biguous at first reading. Daikanwa gives the glosses "the fifteenth,"

"the night of the fifteenth,"

and "the moon of the fifteenth-full

moon"

(vol.

I,

p. I54,

item I2.993a)

for sam-nui

zT.

But

it also

explains the term as (item I2.993g)

"the three calendars and the

five elements" (cf. commentary by Sung Chuin It1 [d. A.D.

76]

quoted in "Lang I chuan" P5.,g4fA [Biography of Lang I], Hou Han

shu, vol.

4, ch. 30B,

p. io6o:

"Three is the three calendars. Five is

the five elements. The three calendars and the five elements [deter-

mine] the auspicious times at which the one who rules reforms the

if

._

X age."

iE,

1i EH,H

t

.

well with

the

corpus of texts

This fits in

alluded to above [Ts'an-t'ung-ch'i,

I-ching, etc.]). It further suggests proper rule and natural succession.

After

studying

the

entire

poem,

one might

even

read

it

as

a

response to a verse written by Empress Wu herself entitled "T'ang-

hsiang hao-t'ien yiieh" ig