Saturday, February 3, 2018

Transcreating Zhuangzi (Chuang Tzu) 1:2

Here is Burton Watson’s translation of the end of Chapter 1, followed by four other translations of the final paragraph, and my own transcreation of that paragraph utilizing those five translations in total.

Hui Tzu said to Chuang Tzu, "I have a big tree of the kind men call shu. Its trunk is too gnarled and bumpy to apply a measuring line to, its branches too bent and twisty to match up to a compass or square. You could stand it by the road and no carpenter would look at it twice. Your words, too, are big and useless, and so everyone alike spurns them!"

Chuang Tzu said, "Maybe you've never seen a wildcat or a weasel. It crouches down and hides, watching for something to come along. It leaps and races east and west, not hesitating to go high or low-until it falls into the trap and dies in the net. Then again there's the yak, big as a cloud covering the sky. It certainly knows how to be big, though it doesn't know how to catch rats.

Now you have this big tree and you're distressed because it's useless. Why don't you plant it in Not-Even-Anything Village, or the field of Broad-and-Boundless, relax and do nothing by its side, or lie down for a free and easy sleep under it? Axes will never shorten its life, nothing can ever harm it. If there's no use for it, how can it come to grief or pain?"

~Z (tr-Burton Watson)

Now you, sir, have a big tree and are bothered by its uselessness. Why don't you plant it in Never-never Land with its wide, open spaces? There you can roam in nonaction by its side and sleep carefreely beneath it. Your StinkyQuassia's life will not be cut short by axes, nor will anything else harm it. Being useless, how could it ever come to grief

~Z (tr-Victor Mair)

So for your big tree. No use?
Then plant it in the wasteland
In emptiness.
Walk idly around,
Rest under its shadow;
No axe or bill prepares its end.
No one will ever cut it down.

Useless? You should worry!

~Z (tr-Thomas Merton)

You, on the other hand, have this big tree, and you worry that it’s useless. Why not plant it in our homeland of not-even-anything, the vast wilds of open nowhere? Then you could loaf and wander there, doing lots of nothing there at its side, and take yourself a nap, far-flung and unfettered, there beneath it. It will never be cut down by ax or saw. Nothing will harm it. Since it has nothing for which it can be used, what could entrap or afflict it?”

~Z (tr-Brook Ziproryn)

Now you've got this huge tree, and you agonize over how useless it is.  Why not plant it in a village where there's nothing at all, a land where emptiness stretches away forever?  Then you could be no one drifting lazily beside it, roam boundless and free as you doze in its shade. It won't die young from the axe. Nothing will harm it. If you have no use, you have no grief.

~Z (tr-David Hinton)

So this big tree is just being there and you worry it’s useless. Why not stand it in that allotment of naught within this vast field of nowhere? Here, you do nothing but wander at ease in its shade while dreaming far and carefree within it. No thought of an axe may cut it—nor anything otherwise harm it. And since it has no use, no sorrow nor suffering shall befall it.

~Zhuangzi (tr-Son Rivers)

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