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英文翻譯練習:Sailing to Byzantium – W. B. Yeats
撰文者: Wayne 發表日期: September 24, 2010 – 7:12 am

葉慈的這首詩 Sailing to Byzantium 《航向拜占庭》是描寫他對時光逝去的恐懼,透過精神之旅來尋求解脫。詩中的敘事者眼見塵世的生老病死,決心前往拜占庭這個藝術世界,寄望透過聖者協助,化身為不朽的金鳥 (精緻的藝術精品),永生永世替皇族貴冑高歌吟唱。

整首詩分成四段 (stanza),屬於抑揚格八行體 (ottava rima),每段的韻式為 a-b-a-b-a-b-c-c,亦即一、三、五 / 二、四、六 / 七、八 行各押一韻。這首詩氣勢磅礡、聲調鏗鏘,是葉慈頗受重視的名詩。

Sailing to Byzantium
《航向拜占庭》

by William Butler Yeats

1.

That is no country for old men. The young
In one another’s arms, birds in the trees
—Those dying generations—at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unaging intellect.

那國度非老人之邦,
少年彼此相擁入懷,
枝頭鳥兒 – 那些將凋零的世代- 高聲歡唱,
鮭魚躍於瀑布,鯖魚簇擁於汪洋,
魚族、走獸或禽鳥,整個夏季無不頌讚
那受孕、降世與死亡之物。
眾生耽溺於歡愉樂曲,
罔視不死智慧之豐碑。

2.

An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.

老人不過是無用之物,
猶如掛於棍桿的爛縷,
除非其靈魂能擊掌高歌,且愈發激昂
替終必腐朽衣衫的每片破布歡唱。
然而,眼下並無歌唱教坊,
唯有審視自身偉業之豐碑。
為此,我遠渡重洋,
前來這聖城拜占庭。

3.

O sages standing in God’s holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.

啊!立於神聖火的聖者,
那鑲於璧上之金箔聖像,
請從聖火駕臨,迴旋而降,
成為我靈魂的教唱導師。
請焚滅我的心,它因慾患病,
且綑綁於垂死獸驅。
我心不知己身為何;請將我聚攏,
歸入永恆的玲瓏妙域。

4.

Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.

一旦蛻骨羽化,我將永不
從任何自然物尋求樣貌。
寧像希臘金匠塑造之物,
以錘金製成、琉璃覆面,
讓睏倦的帝王保持清醒;
亦或棲息於金枝頭高唱,
向著拜占庭的王孫貴婦,
歌詠昔日、現世與未來。

【出處】
Yeats, William Butler. “Sailing to Byzantium.” The Norton Anthology of English Literature: The Twentieth Century and After.

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(詩句分析)

第一段 (The first stanza)

translation

The first line of this poem states that in the narrator’s country the young are the ones who are in power, and the old are becoming has-beens. It is fairly safe to say that the country Yeats is referring to, in this first line, is Ireland. In 1922, the Irish Free State was established in Ireland by the Anglo-Irish Treaty. Up until that point Ireland had been controlled by England; so with this new separation came a new generation of leaders. The old laws and government officials were replaced by younger revolutionaries. Yeats served as a Senator in Ireland for two terms beginning in 1922. He also won the Nobel Prize in Literature; he was the first Irishman to ever be honored with this award. Yeats was sixty-one years old when he wrote this poem; so it makes sense that he was exploring what it meant to be old, and how one stays current in a world that is changing so rapidly. Ireland was entering into a new phase that had the mentality: out with the old and in with the new; change is for the young not the old.

The young being in one another’s arms promotes the idea of young love, innocence, and naivety. It can also be an analogy of how the Irish Free State is kind of like young love; everything is still new and exciting, there haven’t been any real complications within the relationship yet.

Yeats continues this stanza with a series of nature images. Birds are going to be a constant image seen throughout the poem; they represent freedom. “Those dying generations—at their song” is referring to life cycle of birds (animal condition); they hatch, grow, mate, and eventually die. Music and song also plays an interesting role in this poem; Yeats uses it in the second stanza as a way to awaken the soul. The next nature image is that of the salmon and mackerel. Salmons are born in fresh water, and then migrate to the ocean where they spend the next few years maturing. When they are ready to mate they return to their birth place and lay their eggs. Most salmon die within a few days of laying their eggs. A female mackerel can lay up to one million eggs at a time, which is why Yeats says “mackerel-crowded seas”. Salmon have short life spans, which revolve around reproducing; it is their beginning and their end. In lines 5 and 6, Yeats explains that everything that is born must die; that is the nature of life. It does not matter if you are a fish, bird, or human, everything must die.

The last two lines of the first stanza are like Yeats topic sentence. He is saying that the old can’t be heard over the love songs of youth; the old are neglected because they are simply not young and attractive. The “sensual music” can also be referring to the songs that birds sing; it can be seen as a mating call. The monuments refer to the old people; it is an image of history. The young neglect the monuments simply because they are blinded by their hormones, life, and the pursuit of being young. Yeats is saying that just because they are old doesn’t mean that they have lost their minds; they still have worth. Monuments are something that should be revered not forgotten.

translation

The speaker, referring to the country that he has left, says that it is “no country for old men”: it is full of youth and life, with the young lying in one another’s arms, birds singing in the trees, and fish swimming in the waters. There, “all summer long” the world rings with the “sensual music” that makes the young neglect the old, whom the speaker describes as “Monuments of unaging intellect.”

translation

Yeats begins his poem with a description of nature in all its youthful glory. Anything that starts out this perfect, however, can’t stay that way for long. Death is the dark underbelly of all the delightful life that the speaker references. As he ages, death seems to occupy more and more of his time. Mimicking his need to escape thoughts of dying, the poem shifts from a contemplation of nature to a discussion of art as it progresses.

Lines 2-3: Referring to the birds singing as “dying generations” seems to be a form of synecdoche. Yeats isn’t only referring only to birds (or to the “young/ In one another’s arms.” He’s talking about all living creatures.
Lines 5-6: Using lists to describe both all living creatures and the stages of their lives is a form of parallelism. The repetition of this pattern helps to create the sense that the speaker’s talking about all life forms – they all fit into the same pattern.

第二段 (The second stanza)

translation

Yeats starts the second stanza off by saying that being an old man is an insignificant thing. The “tattered coat,” in line 10, is represents an old man’s skin; its old, useless, and basically a rag. The “stick” is an old man’s bones. This analogy is used show the frailty of humanity; in the end we are all reduced to skin and bone. Line 10 ends with the word “unless,” which is used to establish that there is hope; life doesn’t have to end with frailty, the elderly can become monuments that will last forever. In line 11, the narrator is asking for the old to stand up and sing; make themselves heard. “Soul clap its hands and sing” is reminiscent of William Blake; who apparently “saw the soul of his dead brother rise to heaven, ‘clapping his hands for joy'” (2040). The narrator is instructing the elderly to sing louder; so that they cannot be ignored. He is telling them to sing their history proudly. “Tatter,” in line 12, is once again referring to the coat from the analogy in line 10, and it is also being used to symbolize the life experiences of the old man. Every scar has a story; or rather ever tatter in a coat has a story. The “mortal dress” is the human skin. The narrator says that he has searched for a place that is known for its incredible monuments; so that he can be a part of history. Yeats wrote in his A Vision:

I think that if I could be given a of Antiquity and leave to spend it where I chose, I would spend it in Byzantium a little before Justinian opened St. Sophia and closed the Academy of Plato…I think that in early Byzantium, maybe before or since in recorded history, religious, aesthetic and practical life were one, that architect and artificers…spoke to the multitude and the few alike. The painter, the mosaic worker, the worker in gold and silver, the illuminator of sacred books, were almost impersonal, almost perhaps without the consciousness of individual design , absorbed in their subject-matter and that the vision of a whole people (2040).

Yeats idealizes Byzantium as the only place where art and man are one. It is the only place that has been able to impartially represent history. In Byzantium, art and monuments are not influenced by anything other than their subject; they are true representations of history, and they are revered.

translation

An old man, the speaker says, is a “paltry thing,” merely a tattered coat upon a stick, unless his soul can clap its hands and sing; and the only way for the soul to learn how to sing is to study “monuments of its own magnificence.” Therefore, the speaker has “sailed the seas and come / To the holy city of Byzantium.”

第三段 (The third stanza)

translation

In stanza three, Yeats is calling forth the God’s wise men to release him from the human-condition, and make him immortal. Yeats begins with the interjection “O” as a way to give seriousness to his appeal to the sages. A sage is a person, who is famed for their wisdom. In this poem, the sages are the saints of God; they are the chosen ones, who will live on in the hearts of devotees, forever. They are everything that he wants to be.

The gold mosaic in line 18 is most likely referring to the mosaics that Yeats saw in San Apollinaire Nuovo, which is in Ravenna, Italy. They show rows of saints with a gold background. “Perne in a gyre” literally means whirl in a spiral. Yeats is pleading to the saints to come out of the holy fire, and sing his history/song. He is asking them to consume his heart, which is sad because its vessel is dying. He wants to transcend humanity, and become eternal. The dying animal is his body. His soul wants to live on forever, but he knows that his body cannot. The body doesn’t know the worth of what it contains, which is what he means by saying that “it knows not what it is” (3.23). An artifice is a crafty device or a clever trick. He wants the sages to use an artifice to make him eternal.

This stanza also makes one think of the mythological bird, the phoenix. The phoenix is said to be a very colorful bird that lives between 500 and 1,000 years. When the bird senses that it is nearing the end of its life it will build a nest out of twigs. This nest turns into fire, and burns the nest and the phoenix; from the ashes another phoenix is born. This cycle continues on forever. The phoenix is destroyed and birthed from the holy fire. It is also said that when the phoenix cries it sounds like a beautiful song. In stanza three, Yeats is talking about rebirth; he wants the sages to shed his earthly coat; so that he can be reborn into a creature that will never die.

translation

The speaker addresses the sages “standing in God’s holy fire / As in the gold mosaic of a wall,” and asks them to be his soul’s “singing-masters.” He hopes they will consume his heart away, for his heart “knows not what it is”—it is “sick with desire / And fastened to a dying animal,” and the speaker wishes to be gathered “Into the artifice of eternity.”

第四段 (The fourth stanza)

translation

When he dies he does not want to be reincarnated into another living or natural thing, because he will just be faced with the same quandary as before. He wants the Grecian (the Greeks were the ones who originally founded Byzantium) goldsmiths to transform into something that is made out of gold. He wants to be an object that is cherished by generations to come, because he thinks that is the only way his soul will live forever.

Yeats wrote that he had “read somewhere that in the Emperor’s palace at Byzantium [there] was a tree made of gold and silver, and artificial birds that sang,” which would be used to keep the Emperor awake (2040). Yeats wants to be one of these gold birds, because they cannot die and because their history will be attached to the Emperor’s history. Royalty is studied and revered by scholars and citizens alike, and their history will never die, which is what the narrator wants for himself. In the last line of the poem, the narrator defeats the human condition. There is no end for him; he will sing of the past, present, and the future. The overall goal of a writer is to be remembered forever through his work; by writing this poem the narrator hopes that it will become his artifice for eternity

translation

The speaker says that once he has been taken out of the natural world, he will no longer take his “bodily form” from any “natural thing,” but rather will fashion himself as a singing bird made of hammered gold, such as Grecian goldsmiths make “To keep a drowsy Emperor awake,” or set upon a tree of gold “to sing / To lords and ladies of Byzantium / Of what is past, or passing, or to come.”

【參考出處】

* Wikipedia: Sailing to Byzantium

* Society – by Sophia Brookshire

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