29 mar. 2005

LISTENING TO A MONK'S CH'IN DEPTHS

Carrying a ch'in cased in green silk, a monk
descended from O-mei Mountain in the west.

When he plays, even in a few first notes,
I hear the pines of ten thousand valleys,

and streams rinse my wanderer's heart clean.
Echoes linger among temple frost-fall bells,

night coming unnoticed in emerald mountains,
autumn clouds banked up, gone dark and deep.

(Hinton)

ONE HEARING CHUN THE BUDDHIST MONK FROM SHU PLAY HIS LUTE

The monk from Shu with his green silk lute-case,
Walking west down O-mei Mountain,
Has brought me by one touch of the strings
The breath of pines in a thousand valleys.
I hear him in the cleansing brook,
I hear him in the icy bells;
And I feel no change though the mountain darkens
And cloudy autumn heaps the sky.

(Bynner)

I'm afraid Bynner has the better ear. Hinton's version includes more semantic elements per line: frost-fall bells vs. icy bells. Bynner tends to simplify more. "one touch of the strings" is much bettter than "even in a few first notes."