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Dickinson's Poem "I Years Had Been from Home" with Chinese Translation, Paper Ti [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2004-10-18 14:43:03 |Display all floors
Sleepye posted on the column of Translation Tips a Chinese idiom “近乡情怯”, saying of  the home-returning jitter. It reminds me of a great poem by a 19th-century American poet Emily Dickinson, which conveys the same jitter a person would have when he/she is returning home after leaving it for long. But in a more detailed and vivid manner..

Here I present both the poem and its Chinese translation by myself. As it has taken my whole lunch time of today to do the translation, please be kind enough to let me know if any of you enjoys it.

I years had been from home,
And now, before the door,
I dared not open, lest a face
I never saw before

Stare vacant into mine
And ask my business there.
My business,—just a life I left,
Was such still dwelling there?

I fumbled at my nerve,
I scanned the windows near;
The silence like an ocean rolled,
And broke against my ear.

I laughed a wooden laugh
That I could fear a door,
Who danger and the dead had faced,
But never quaked before.

I fitted to the latch
My hand, with trembling care,
Lest back the awful door should spring,
And leave me standing there.

I moved my fingers off
As cautiously as glass,
And held my ears, and like a thief
Fled gasping from the house.










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Post time 2004-10-18 16:19:32 |Display all floors

Thanks for sharing your great work with us, hawking

Chinese ancient poem

(唐)李频 岭外音书绝,经冬复立春。 近乡情更怯,不敢问来人。


The translation is well-done. I really enjoy it. Although the poet never mentioned whether there was someone to greet her, we can figure out the feelings and that is the identical "jitter" mentioned in the Chinese poem.


I have little knowledge of the principles of ancient Chinese poem. According to your translation, I am afraid the last two paragraphs may be improved in some ways so that the entire impression of "jitter" would be more vivid. I just tell it from my general understanding of it , which is based on my overall perception of the translation.It might be right or wrong. I'd like to discuss it with all of you.


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Post time 2004-10-18 16:26:02 |Display all floors

I just found you worked it out during lunch break,,

IT seemed the translator must be a little hungry and therefore completed the work in a hurry.(hehe)

A good translation work !! TKs

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Post time 2004-10-18 16:55:33 |Display all floors


It's so nice of you to let me know you enjoy the translation. It's even nicer to have your comments on it.

Although the two poems express the same jitter of home-returning, the Chinese one does it in a concise and implying way while the English one uses details to describe the poet's reaction to what's around her. Hence Dickinson's is more detailed and vivid than Li's, I think.

I'm thinking of modifying the translation of the last 2 stanzas. your intuition may has its reason.

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Post time 2004-10-18 17:31:46 |Display all floors

classical Chinese poems

The Chinese poem typically interpreted Chinese way of showing one's feelings, although there is almost  no word to describe the poet's feelings, we still read it and experience the overwhelmingly unutterable JITTER and therefore the poem was handed down century after century. Personally, I am convinced this kind of writing or expression style counts more than others in a poem.  I also regard it as an essence for classical Chinese poems. If a simple word could convey strong feelings which might be elaborated in hundreds of words , cannot we call it a powerful and a CLASSICAL work?

There are abundant samples in classical Chinese poems and essays, which are characterized wtih the same features.

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Post time 2004-10-18 18:43:15 |Display all floors

Chinese Classics vs. English Classics

I agree that Chinese classical poetry can be characterized as being relatively short, terse and implicit, compared with English classical poetry. But this is not to say the former is better than the latter, or vise versa. Each has its own beauty and power to move its readers.

I myself very much enjoy the beauty of simplicity and implicity the Chinese classics can always bring to us, while I also love the more detailed and directer way the English classics seem to be more relied on to convey thoughts and feelings, as shown in the Dickinson's poem above.

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Post time 2004-10-19 09:42:22 |Display all floors

culture difference

Chinese are more implicative....

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