Music in classical Chinese poetry : problems of transmission and translation

Yim Tze, Charles KWONG

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review


Translation is a matter of bridging two languages, aesthetics and cultures, which vie for primacy in the process. This endeavour is heightened in the translation of poetry, the most condensed and evocative of literary modes. These are essentially two ways for the translator to facilitate travel through the spatial-temporal gap (for continuum) between a past Chinese poem and a present English reader: s/he can bring the reader to the poem, or the poem to the reader. "Since translation assumes that we have chosen to move the poem rather than the reader" (Raffel, 1988: 35), "we must sacrifice Chinese poetics." (Owen, 1985: 125) This sacrifices is greatest and hardest to compensate in respect of poetic music and prosody, for as Hawkes observes, "[t]he least communicable aspect of Chinese prosody are totally incommunicable; others are theoretically communicable but are virtually incommunicable in practice." (1964: 95)
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-31
Number of pages31
Journal翻譯學報 = Journal of Translation Studies
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2004


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