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- Ezra Pound discussion list of the University of Maine <[log in to unmask]>
Hiroko Uno <[log in to unmask]>
Sun, 5 Dec 2004 22:46:43 +0900
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- Ezra Pound discussion list of the University of Maine <[log in to unmask]>
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Dear Dan,

When he translated the poem, he was not in Italy, but in London.  Of course
he might have seen Italian blue plums before, but I do not think he had the
plums in Italy in his mind when translating the poem.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Back door" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Sunday, December 05, 2004 7:36 AM
Subject: Re: more on 'qing'

> Incredible. Those posts are a bit overwhelming.
> The case for one color would seem to be as strong as another,
> not considering Pound's own intentions. "Without dislike or suspicion"
> would suggeest innocence. Blue could also suggest the sadness of the
> wife's
> mood, I
> suppose, but that's a bit clich $B!& (B Was Pound living in Italy at that time?
> There are some gorgeous Italian blue plums. They may  have suggested
> something to him.
> I have a Chinese friend. He may be able to help with the original.
> Great thanks to all.
> http://users.pullman.com/pace/BluePlums.htm
> Dan P.
>>From: "J. Mark Smith" <[log in to unmask]>
>>Reply-To: - Ezra Pound discussion list of the University of Maine
>>    <[log in to unmask]>
>>To: [log in to unmask]
>>Subject: more on 'qing'
>>Date: Sat, 4 Dec 2004 16:15:31 -0500
>>   here's an interesting comment on that same word 'qing':
>>"In what in English we still call Mandarin, but which since 1949, in
>>has been called 'putonghua' ('the common language,' though in fact it is a
>>dialect of the north), the color turquoise is known as qing lu, or
>>color green," qing meaning 'natural (color)'; lu, green. Qing hai: the
>>sea; qing shan: the green mountains; qing ye: the black night. It is as if
>>things have their own 'natural' color: the green of the mountains (that
>>to us, be grey, or blue), the blue of the sea (that might, also, be
>>the gloom of a car accident that is black (but might instead be that deep
>>almost sweet blue of certain paintings) when one is lying in the hospital,
>>having just come close to death. So natural green would be as good a color
>>any to describe those poems [of the Tang Dynasty], most them now more than
>>1200 years old, but still strangely fresh, as if waiting for us to come
>>them again."
>>(from <Introduction to the Introduction to Wang Wei>, a book of verse
>>and imitations by Canadian poets Roo Borson, Kim Maltman, Andy Patton
>>Not Bread), 2000.)
>>   But is the word 'qing' in the original Li Po poem?
>>   J. Mark Smith
>>Quoting James McDougall <[log in to unmask]>:
>> > >The confusion arises because the character qing [or
>> > >ch'ing according to the Wade Giles phonetic system],
>> > >(?) especially as it is used in classical
>> > >Chinese does not have a ready equivalent in English. A
>> > >direct translations of blue into Chinese would be lan
>> > >? , a direct translation of green would be lu
>> > >? , and a direct translation of black would be
>> > >hei ?. Qing can be any of these colors, so all
>> > >the translations are correct.
>> > >
>> > >For example qingtian ?? means blue sky,
>> > >but qingcai ?? means green vegetables,
>> > >and qingwa ?? means frog (all the same
>> > >qing). A cliche in the language of landscapes,
>> > >qingshan lushui ????,
>> > >means "blue mountains green water," but the qing here
>> > >suggests instead of a topaz blue that
>> > >blackish-verdant color of rocks and trees. Qingnian
>> > >??(green years) means youth, and
>> > >qingchun ??(green spring) means
>> > >puberty/"youthful vigour,"--in Li Bo's version the
>> > >overtone of youthful vigor is probably implied,
>> > >especially because plum blossoms flower in the
>> > >winter/early spring, and are symbolic of beauty that
>> > >blossoms out of difficult conditions, likewise, alas,
>> > >the beauty of the Merchant wife's address.
>> > >
>> > >I'm not sure whether Pound knew all this or not, but I
>> > >think there is an intentionality to the "blue" which
>> > >is disjuntive of his audience's expectations. More
>> > >importantly, the connotation of qing to youth in
>> > >Chinese is used optimistically as a potentiality
>> > >through which the more mundane seasons of life can be
>> > >realized. In English "green" in the same context
>> > >negatively suggests an inexperienced hack; and I think
>> > >the "blue plums" are emblematic of the way that Pound
>> > >tightly reins in connotation to control tone and
>> > >subjectivity.
>> > >
>> > >JMcD
>> > >Graduate Assistant
>> > >University of Florida
>> > >Department of English
>> > >[log in to unmask]
>> >
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