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Classical Chinese

Six Records of a Floating Life, 3: Kanke Jichou (Section 9)

A bamboo mesh with the characters '浮生六記 / 坎坷記愁' superimposed on itThis is a sentence-by-sentence translation from the chapter 坎坷記愁 in Shen Fu’s 浮生六記 (Six Records of a Floating Life). It aims to be literal and close to the original text as far as possible, rather than be an idiomatic conversion to English.

(See the index of Fu Sheng Liu Ji translations)

浮生六記第六卷:坎坷記愁 → Section 9

是夜先將半肩行李挑下船,令逢森先臥。 That night I first took a half-shoulder load of baggage down to the boat, and told Fengsen to go to sleep.

青君泣於母側,芸囑曰: Qingchun wept at her mother’s side; Yun told her:

囑 means 'enjoin' or 'instruct', but has been translated as 'told' here.

「汝母命苦,兼亦情癡,故遭此顛沛,幸汝父待我厚,此去可無他慮。 “Your mother has had a hard life, all the more because of her foolish emotions, so we have met this hardship. Fortunately, your father has treated me with generosity, so this departure is possible without other worries.

兩三年內,必當佈置重圓。 Within two or three years, we will certainly set up house and be together again.

佈置 here is probably not the modern binome 'arrange', but instead means to set up a household.

汝至汝家須盡婦道,勿似汝母。 You must go to your home and fulfil the way of the wife; do not be like your mother.

This might be better translated as "go to your [new] home", but 'new' is not included in the original Chinese.

汝之翁姑以得汝為幸,必善視汝。 Your parents in law will regard getting you as a blessing, and will certainly be good to you.

所留箱籠什物,盡付汝帶去。 Whatever boxes and baskets we’ve left behind, we completely pass them to you to take with you.

_Note the 所 structure in 所留 - 'that which is left behind'._

汝弟年幼,故未令知,臨行時托言就醫,數日即歸,俟我去遠,告知其故,稟聞祖父可也。」 Your brother is young, so we have not yet let him know; when we are about to leave, we will make up a story that we’re going to the doctor’s, and will be back in a few days; wait until we are far away, then tell him the reasons; you can also let your grandfather know about it.”

旁有舊嫗,即前卷中曾賃其家消暑者,願送至鄉,故是時陪傍在側,拭淚不已。 At our side was an old woman, the one from the previous chapter, who had once rented her house to us to let us escape the summer heat; she wished to see us off to the countryside, so at this time she accompanied us by our side, constantly wiping away tears.

將交五鼓,暖粥共啜之。 Just before the striking of five o’clock we ate some warm rice porridge together.

_Literally this "just before the striking of the fifth drum"._

芸強顏笑曰: Yun put on a brave face, saying:

_Literally this is "forced [her] face to smile."_

「昔一粥而聚,今一粥而散,若作傳奇,可名《吃粥記》矣。」 In the past, once we had porridge we got together; now, once we have porridge we’ll separate; if someone wrote a short story about it, it could be called ‘Records of Eating Rice Porridge’.”

逢森聞聲亦起,呻曰: Fengsen heard this and rose, saying sleepily:

_呻曰 is literally 'groaned'._

「母何為?」 “What are you doing, mother?”

芸曰:「將出門就醫耳。」 Yun said: “We’re going out to see a doctor, that’s all.”

逢森曰:「起何早?」 Fengsen said: “Why are you going this early?”

曰:「路遠耳。汝與姊相安在家,毋討祖母嫌。 Yun said: “It’s far away, that’s all. You and your older sister will be safe together at home; don’t make grandmother angry.

我與汝父同往,數日即歸。」 Your father and I are going together; after a few days we’ll come right back.”

_Literally this is "promptly come back"._

雞聲三唱,芸含淚扶嫗,啟後門將出,逢森忽大哭曰: As a cockerel crowed three times, Yun, holding in her tears and supported by the old woman, opened the back door and went out; Fengsen suddenly cried out loudly:

「噫,我母不歸矣!」 “Ah! My mother is not coming back!”

青君恐驚人,急掩其口而慰之。 Qingchun feared this would wake people up, and anxiously covered up his mouth and reassured him.

_Literally, Qingchun "feared this would startle people"._

當是時,余兩人寸腸已斷,不能復作一語,但止以「勿哭」而已。 At that point, our hearts were already broken into pieces, yet we could not go back to say a single word but “do not cry”, and that was all.

_Literally, this says "an inch of our intestines was already broken"._

青君閉門後,芸出巷十數步,已疲不能行,使嫗提燈,余背負之而行。 After Qingchun shut the door, Yun took ten steps down the lane and was already unable to continue for her illness; we had the old woman hold the lamp, and we went on with me carrying Yun on my back.

將至舟次,幾為邏者所執,幸老嫗認芸為病女,余為婿,且得舟子,皆華氏工人,聞聲接應,相扶下船。 As we were about to reach the boat, we were almost seized by the patrol; fortunately the old woman identified Yun as her sick daughter, and me as her son-in-law; then we were able to get the boatmen, who were all workers for the Hua family, to hear our voices, and in response meet us. They supported us down to the boat.

_為 here forms a passive, like 被. 相 can sometimes function as a generic pronoun, as it does here._

解纜後,芸始放聲痛哭。 When the mooring ropes had been released, only then did Yun let out a cry of pain.

是行也,其母子已成永訣矣! After that, mother and son would be separated forever!

Series: Six Records of a Floating Life

  1. Six Records of a Floating Life, 3: Kanke Jichou (Section 1)
  2. Six Records of a Floating Life, 3: Kanke Jichou (Section 2)
  3. Six Records of a Floating Life, 3: Kanke Jichou (Section 3)
  4. Six Records of a Floating Life, 3: Kanke Jichou (Section 4)
  5. Six Records of a Floating Life, 3: Kanke Jichou (Section 5)
  6. Six Records of a Floating Life, 3: Kanke Jichou (Section 6)
  7. Six Records of a Floating Life, 3: Kanke Jichou (Section 7)
  8. Six Records of a Floating Life, 3: Kanke Jichou (Section 8)
  9. Six Records of a Floating Life, 3: Kanke Jichou (Section 9) (this article)
  10. Six Records of a Floating Life, 3: Kanke Jichou (Section 10)
  11. Six Records of a Floating Life, 3: Kanke Jichou (Section 11)
  12. Six Records of a Floating Life, 3: Kanke Jichou (Section 12)
  13. Six Records of a Floating Life, 3: Kanke Jichou (Section 13)
  14. Six Records of a Floating Life, 3: Kanke Jichou (Section 14)

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