Charles XII: on the centenary of his death 1818

Esaias Tegnér

Translated into Chinese by
Ning Lan


 

 

 

 

 

 

click on stanza to see original in Swedish and English
     

Comment

Ning Lan writes that he grew up in China, came to the US twelve years ago, and is now (July 2007) working in California. He first became interested in Charles XII by reading Robert Massie's Peter the Great. Tegnér's verses are the first translation of a poem he has made from English into Chinese, although he has evidently composed poems of his own in Chinese, since he remarks that poetry has always been his passion. He says that: "I've never given much thought to translation really. I just like to write poetry. To me it's about writing a poem with a pre-set idea for each line."

The form he has used is classical Chinese poetry, which is something of a dying art in China, since it is composed in the ancient Chinese language. This has the same vocabulary as modern Chinese, but its grammar differs. Each syllable needs to be of a certain tone and the rhythmic rules are strict. His translation, which is based on a mixture of the two English versions since he doesn't speak Swedish, is not literal, but rather a retelling of the main ideas; and the content of each stanza is expressed in varying lengths of eight, six, or four lines.

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