A Story and a Phrase builds bridges between China, Korea, and Japan

Image credit: Kim Ki Chang, Green Mountain Painting / 1970 Color on silk 82 x 101 cm

Chinese:

Original Simplified Pinyin
臨江仙 – 楊愼

 

滾滾長江東折水

浪花淘盡英雄

是非成敗轉頭空

靑山依舊在

幾度夕陽紅

 

白髮魚樵江渚上

慣看秋月春風

一壺濁酒喜相逢

古今多少事

都付笑談中

临江仙 – 杨慎

 

滚滚长江东浙水

浪花淘尽英雄

是非成败转头空

靑山依旧在

几度夕阳红

 

白发鱼樵江渚上

惯看秋月春风

一壶浊酒喜相逢

古今多少事

都付笑谈中

Línjiāng xiān – Yáng Shèn

 

gǔngǔn chángjiāng dōng zhè shuǐ

lànghuā táo jǐn yīngxióng

shìfēi chéngbài zhuǎn tóu kōng

qīng shān yījiù zài

jǐdù xīyáng hóng

 

bái fà yú qiáo jiāng zhǔ shàng

guàn kàn qiūyuè chūnfēng

yī hú zhuójiǔ xǐ xiāngféng

gǔjīn duōshǎo shì

dōu fù xiàotán zhōng

Korean:

Transliteration of Hanja Romanization
『임강선』   – 양신

곤곤장강동절수

낭화도진영웅

시비성패전두공

청산의구재

기도석양홍

 

백발어초강저상

관간추월춘풍

일호탁주회상봉

고금다소사

도부소담중

『im gang seon』 – Yang Sin

gon gon jang-gang dong jeol su

nanghwa do jin yeong-oong

sibi seongpae jeon du gong

cheong san uigu jae

gi do seokyang hong

 

baek bal eo cho gang jeo sang

gwan gan chuwol choonpoong

il ho tak ju hwae sangbong

gogeum daso sa

do bu sodam joong

Translation into Korean Romanization
『도도장강』 – 양신

동쪽으로 꺾여 흐르는 도도한 장강의 물결에

거품처럼 사라진 영웅들이여!

시비와 성패가 무슨 소용이 있겠고

청산은 의구하다 하지만

몇 번이나 석양을 붉게 물었을까?

 

강심의 섬 안에 숨어사는 백발의 어부들는

가을달과 봄바람을 구경하면서

탁주 한 병 들고 서로 만나

고금의 수많은 크고 작은 일들을

웃음 속의 담소에 담았다네

『dodojang-gang』 – Yang Sin

dongjjog-eulo kkeokk-yeo heuleuneun dodohan jang-gang-ui mulgyeol-e

geopumcheoleom salajin yeong-ungdeul-iyeo!

sibiwa seongpaega museun soyong-i eetgetgo

cheongsan-eun uigoohada hajiman

myeot beon-ina seo-gyang-eul bulg-ge mul-eoss-eulkka?

 

gangsim-ui seom aneh soomeosaneun baekbal-ui eobudeulneun

ga-euldalgwa bombalam-eul gugyeong-hamyeonseo

takju han byeong deulgo seolo man-na

gogeum-ui soomahn-eun keugo jageun ildeul-eul

ooseum sogui damso-e dam-atdaneh

Japanese:

「臨江仙」- 楊慎

滾滾たる 長江  東に逝(ゆ)く 水,

浪花は  英雄を 淘(あら)ひ尽くす。

是非 成敗  頭を 転ずれば 空なり。

青山  旧に依りて 在り,

幾度の  夕陽 紅し。

 

白髪  漁樵 江渚の上,

看るに 慣れたり  秋月 春風を。

一壺の 濁酒  相ひ逢ふを 喜ぶ。

古今  多少の事は,

都(すべ)て  談笑の中に 付す。

「Rinkō Sen」 – Yō Shin

Konkontaru Nagae azuma ni yuku mizu,

Naniwa wa eiyū o tō ara hi tsukusu.

Zehi seibai atama o tenzureba soranari.

Aoyama kyū ni yorite ari,

ikudo no yūhi akashi.

 

Shiraga gyoshō kō sho no ue,

miru ni nare tari shūgetsu harukaze o.

Ichi tsubo no dakushu ai hi hō fu o yorokobu.

Kokon tashō no koto wa,

subete danshō no naka ni fusu.

English: (for meaning purposes)

Riverbank Fairy – Yang Shen, trans. John Balcom

 

Rolling, rolling the Yangtze flows east,

The waves washing away heroes.

Right and wrong, success and failure, all empty.

The green mountains remain,

How many red sunsets?

 

White-haired fisherman by the riverside,

Watching the autumn moon and spring breeze;

A pot of unstrained wine welcomes me again.

How many events, from antiquity until now,

Are matter for our laughter and talk?

 

This poem was composed by Yang Shen (1488-1559) to the rhythm of a previous poem called “Riverbank Fairy” by Li Yu (c.937-978) and is a proem for the classic Chinese novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms by Luo Guanzhong (c.1330-1400 or c.1280-1360); however, the novel’s original text did not contain the poem until the 1660s, when Mao Lun and Mao Zonggang edited the text. Nevertheless, the poem is a recognized part of the classic and is one of the few literary works valued by the Chinese, Koreans, and Japanese. Therefore, the Yang Shen’s poem was translated to Korean and Japanese. The scripts of the languages demonstrate the density of Chinese compared to Korean and Japanese. Japanese adds helper hiragana characters between kanji characters while Korean utilizes longer grammatical structures with some hanja (traditional Chinese script) based words written in hangeul (Korean script).

All three translations include the word Blue-Green Mountain (Chinese靑山, Korean 청산, Japanese 青山 (あおやま)). The character 靑 in Chinese means green or blue depending on context; in Korean, 청 can mean blue or green or blue-green regardless of context; in Japanese, 青 means blue or even black unless it describes a plant, in which case it would be green. This contributes to the different nuances of 靑山 for all three languages. Moreover, perceptions of 靑山  differ due to different cultural backgrounds. The Chinese perception of green hills stretches from beautiful imagery to longing for prosperity. For Koreans, the word would call to mind a Goryeo dynasty (918-1392) folk song called 청산별곡 (Cheong San Byeol Gok), where the speaker longs to live in green hills and a peaceful life: the color 청 elicits a sense of peace. In Japan, 青山 also functions as prevalent surname, and therefore country name, due to the abundance of blue/green hills in Japan. All these nuances combine to form a purer meaning of靑山, that incorporates the images of prosperity, inner peace, and natural landscape. One can wonder if this is the closest to the green hills where China, Korea, and Japan forget past grievances and collaborate to create purity.

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