Gems of Chinese Literature: Verse

Gems of Chinese Literature: Verse

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Gems of Chinese Literature: Verse

Gems of Chinese Literature: Verse

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Excerpt

In translating Chinese poetry, so soon as the meaning has been secured, there is always open for its reproduction a choice between rhymed verse and prose. Personally, I am on the side of the former. It is a much more difficult feat to achieve than a prose rendering, further involving, as it does, considerable “labour of the file;” that is, if the meaning, which is essential in both cases, is to be retained in approximately all its fullness, —a consummation unfortunately denied to the spirit, whether the vehicle be verse or prose.

All Chinese poetry is lyrical, in the sense that it was originally intended to be set to music and sung; and the great bulk of it is also lyrical in the later senses of the term, as well as in rhyme. Swinburne, in his Essays and Studies, 1875, says “Rhyme is the native condition of lyric verse in English; a rhymeless lyric is a maimed thing.” Mr. George Moore in The Observer of 9th June, 1918, declares that “verse cannot be translated into verse,” and that . . .

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