On Five Versions of the First Poem in The Book of Poetry Through “Three Aesthetic Name:Xie Xichao Instructor: Liu Tiekai
China has always been reputed to be a kingdom of poetry. With thousands of years of history, China has created splendid culture, in which classical Chinese poetry undeniably plays an indispensable part. In the process from the collection of The Book of Poetry to the prosperity of ci poems in Qing Dynasty, many fabulous poets sprung up, whose works reproduce the common world of which we are portions and percipients. Among those superb poems, The Book of Poetry as the earliest anthology of verse in China, remarked the beginning of classical Chinese poetry and made a great difference on the poets later. Therefore, nowadays, in order to promote the communication between the oriental culture and the occidental culture, poetry translation from Chinese to English should be attached great importance to. It’s a must if classical Chinese poetry wants to survive and revive in the culture integration torrent nowadays. In Europe, various translations of The Book of Poetry found themselves available as far back as the 18th century, to which several noted sinologists devoted their efforts. Besides, Shih-ching rendered by Ezra Pound, a distinguished American poet, also deserves reading and analyzing. Back home, the translation of The Book of Poetry clustered in the 20th century. Among all the translators home and abroad, after analyzing and summing up predecessors’ experience and theories, Pr. Xu Yuanchong put forward “Three Aesthetic Pursuits”, which not only he sticks to and puts into practice in his massive poetry translation, but also makes a profound impact on the translation world and earns him both exclamation and question. This paper singles out five versions of the first poem in The Book of Poetry, makes an analysis by means of “Three Aesthetic Pursuits” and tries to figure out both its brilliance and deficiency. 2. Brief introduction of The Book of Poetry
As mentioned above, The Book of Poetry is the earliest anthology of verse in China, consisting of 305 poems dating from the early period of Western Zhou Dynasty to the middle of Spring and Autumn Period, that is to say, from the 11th to the 6th century BC. It is divided according to the type of music into four main sections: 160 Songs sung by the people in 15 city states and collected by royal musicians; 74 Odes and 31 Epics sung by the nobles at court or at banquets; and 40 Hymns used during sacrifice to the gods and ancestors. (许渊冲, 2009: 10) “Poetry,” said Confucius, “may serve to inspire, to reflect, to communicate and to admonish.” In accordance with The Text of Maou, on the one hand, the Songs serves as a tool used by rulers to enlighten and educate people, on the other hand, it’s used by people to satirize and admonish the rulers. The Odes and the Epics had a reputation as royal court music; but maybe a little tinted by the Songs, the Odes includes some poems whose styles and contents are similar to the Songs. The Hymns was performed when it’s time to sing the praises and feats of royal ancestors or the gods with an offer of sacrifice. So we may say, the Songs serves chiefly to inspire and admonish; the Odes, to communicate; the Epics, to reflect; and the Hymns, to inspire and reflect. Three writing devices are frequently employed in The Book of Poetry, the direct narration and expression, simile and metaphor, and “evocation” or “association”, that means, starting a poem by images different from the central subject. For instance, the last but one stanza of Song 31 expresses the author’s feeling directly.
“Meet or part, live or die,
We’ve made oath, you and I.
Give me your hand I’ll hold!
And live with me till old.”
(许渊冲, 2003: 255)
And Song 113, “Large Rat”, is a good example of a...
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