An Application of the "Harmony-Guided Criteria" to the English translation of Song ci: A Case Study of "Immortals at the Magpie Bridge" by Qin Guan

  • Wang Feng School of Foreign Studies, Yangtze University, China
  • Huang Hongxia Xiangcheng No. 3 Experimental Middle School, Xiangcheng District, Suzhou City, Jiangsu Province, China
Keywords: Harmony-Guided Criteria, poetry translation, Song ci, rhyme, free verse


Ezra Pound's Cathay set the stage for a translation of free verse and influenced many translators such as Arthur Waley and Kenneth Rexroth. However, before Pound, rhymed Chinese poems were mainly translated into rhymed English poems by Herbert Giles, W. J. B. Fletcher, etc. Is it necessary to challenge the dominant translation poetics of free verse and insist that rhymed Chinese poems are best translated into rhymed English poems? Six English versions of a Song ci poem "Immortals at the Magpie Bridge" on the Chinese Valentine's Day were analyzed in details based on the newly proposed "Harmony-Guided Criteria" for poetry translation, which takes "Harmony" as the translation standard at the macro level, "resemblance in style, sense and poetic realm" at the middle level, and the "eight beauties of poetry translation" at the micro level. It shows that the criteria can be applied to the translation of rhymed Chinese ci poems into rhymed English poems, though with limitations.


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