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.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Han Mu 韓牧 The Machete 腰刀

野獸的利爪前                     Before the sharp claws of a brutish beast,

你是更利的爪                     Of claws----you are the sharper;

毒蛇的利牙前                     Before the sharp fangs of a deadly snake,

你是更利的牙                     Of fangs----you are the sharper.

在密得像籠的棘林中        Caught in a dense and cage-like thorny thicket,

你就是路                              Oh you----you are the way.

Translated by Wong Pun Ming Chu and Andrew Wong in August 2016, one week before the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Legislative Council election.  This translation is dedicated to all the freedom and democracy fighters.


.     1. 韓牧 (1938-   ) 原籍:澳門  (現居加拿大)  著作:铅印的詩稿》、 分流角  伶仃洋》、 回魂夜(急水門   韓牧評論選梅嫁給楓等。Han Mu born in Macau currently living in Canada

      2. 韓牧: 腰刀 “Han Mu: The Machete” was published in the 海洋文藝 “Ocean Literary” magazine in October 1974 (vol. 1, no. 4).

Friday, 10 June 2016

Nieh Hualing "San Shen Ying Xiang" 三生影像 聶華苓 (1925- )

A tree am I -
Roots in Mainland China
Trunk in Taiwan
Branches and leaves in Iowa


Translated by Wong Pun Ming Chu  黃潘明珠  7 June 2016 , Washington DC which is 900 miles from Iowa City where my son Didi Wong and his family just moved there 5 days ago.

1. From Nieh Hualing's book preface "San Shen Ying Xiang" "三生影像". Published by
Beijing : Sheng huo, du shu, xin zhi san lian shu dian, 2008. 北京 : 生活・讀書・新知三联书店, 2008.
2. "San Shen Ying Xiang" "One tree three lives" movie trailer.  Details of the movie can be found at http://www.onetreethreelives.com/en/. 
3. The movie was produced, directed and edited  by  Angie Chen, born in Shanghai, brought up in Hong Kong and Taiwan.


Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Dai Wangshu 戴望舒: Written on a Prison Wall by Hsu Kai-yu

How do you like Hsu Kai-yu's translation?

If I die here,
My friends, don't be sad.
I shall live forever
In your hearts.

Dead is only one of you
In a prison under Japanese occupation.
He nursed a deep,deep hatred,
That you must always remember.

When you return and dig up
From the earth his mutilated body,
Please let your vistory cheers
Bear his soul to soar in the sky,

And please place his bleached bones,
On a mountain top to bathe in the sun and the wind:
This, my friends, was the only dream he had
In that dark and dank dungeon.

From "Twentieth Century Chinese poetry:an anthology" translated and edited by Kai-yu Hsu. New York, Doubleday & Co., 1963.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Xiao Si 小思 Conferred The Life Achievement Award 2015

The Hong Kong Arts Development Awards 2015 -  Organised by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council (ADC)
「2015香港藝術發展獎」 - 香港藝術發展局(藝發局)主辦

"The Life Achievement Award was conferred on arts master with continued and significant contribution to the arts scene in Hong Kong. Prof Lo Wai-luen (Xiao Si), recipient of the Life Achievement Award this year, has engaged in Chinese literature education for around 40 years and devoted herself in researching and archiving of materials in Hong Kong literature and culture. In 2002, Xiao Si donated her entire collection of literary materials, records, books and magazines to the University Library of the Chinese University of Hong Kong. The “Hong Kong Literature Collection” and the “Hong Kong Literature Database” were set up successively for the study of Hong Kong literature and culture. She compiled and published numerous works on Hong Kong literature and culture."
Hong Kong Arts Development Awards 2015

「終身成就獎」為最高榮譽大獎,旨在表揚對本地文化藝術界有深遠影響的人 士。今年的得主盧瑋鑾教授(小思)從事文學教育工作接近四十年,同時致力於香港文學研究和資料整理,並於2002年將香港文學資料檔案、文獻,書刊悉數捐 贈香港中文大學圖書館,先後創建「香港文學特藏」、「香港文學資料庫」,供研究香港文學和文化之用,影響深遠。小思多年來整理和出版多部香港文學及文化資 料結集,包括《香港文縱-內地作家南來及其文化活動》(1987)、《香港文學散步》(1991)等,亦出版散文集,如《香港家書》(2002)、《一生 承教》(2007)及《一瓦之緣》(2016)

                                      (Photo supplied by Maria Lau 相片由劉麗芝提供,謹此鳴謝)

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”.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Xiao Si 小思: The Cicada 蟬

        This year, the cicada sings early.  On and off, the sound of cicadas singing is heard, even before azalea blossoms begin to wither and fall.  This past month, from out of the window, the cicada song has turned into an endless chirp-chirping, making us busy people feel bothered.
        One day, from under a tree, I picked up an ailing cicada: its translucent wings folded, its body trembling slightly, and it makes no sound.  Oh, it is that little creature who had, on trees, spent all its time chirp-chirping without end.  So tiny, yet so loud, so very loud throughout the summer.  I then wondered: “Why all that endless nag-nagging?  This is just summertime!”
        My friend said, “Don’t you know?  It has to wait for seventeen years for the coming of summer, and for the cicada, there is only this one summer!  From soil and dirt it emerges, from nymph to adult it has grown; yet, once the autumn winds begin to blow, its life will come to an end.”
        Seventeen years buried in the ground, emerging to live for only one summer.  Oh!  Why so?
        The friend said, “The journey of life is inherently so.  For life to go on and on, to propagate, one must live, live on, and live well.  Be it a journey of ninety years or just ninety days, one must have lived it well.”
        Ah, this is the cicada’s meaning of life!
        In the slanting sun, I think of the hue of autumn with its winds, and that bothersome nag-nagging, chirp-chirping is all forgiven!        

今年,蟬鳴得早。杜鵑花還沒零落,就說聽見斷續的蟬聲了。近月來,窗外的蟬更  知知不休,使事忙的人聽了很煩。







Translated by Rita Wong  黃潘明珠
30.1.2016 (revised 1.2.16)

Notes: Xiao Si 小思 see Lu Weiluan at CUHK Library Hong Kong Literature Database Writers Profile