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									     On Testification of Translation of Imagery in Classical Chinese Poetry

 On Testification of Translation of Imagery in Classical Chinese Poetry


                                     Wang Zhe

                                  Supervised by
                                 Prof. Bao Tongfa

                     Jiangnan University, Wuxi, Jiangsu, China

                                     June, 2007


Abstracts & Key Words……………………………………………………………………………ⅱ
1. Introduction ................................................................................................................................... 1
2. “Yan”, “Xiang”, “Yi” and Their Interactive Relation ................................................................... 2
3. The Origin and Development of Imagery in Chinese Classical Poetry......................................... 4
      3.1 Metaphysical Imagery ......................................................................................................... 4
      3.2 Musical Imagery and Ritual Imagery .................................................................................. 6
      3.3 Aesthetic Imagery................................................................................................................ 7
      3.4 Associative Imagery ............................................................................................................ 9
4. The Comparison and Contrast of Imagery Theory between China and Western World .............. 11
      4.1 Definition and Connotation of Aesthetic Imagery in Chinese Classical Poetry ................ 11
      4.2 Western Concept of Poetic Imagery .................................................................................. 12
      4.3 Difference between Image and Yixiang ............................................................................ 14
      4.4 The Development Trend of Imagery Theory ..................................................................... 15
5. The Formation of Imagery .......................................................................................................... 16
      5.1 The Theory of “Interaction of Mind and Matters”(心物交感).......................................... 16
      5.2 The Theory of “Reflecting Mind by Resorting to Image”(假象尽意) and “Presenting
      Mind Triggered by Image”(貌题直书) ................................................................................... 16
      5.3 The Principle of Imagery Creation .................................................................................... 17
      5.4 The Authenticity of Imagery ............................................................................................. 17
      5.5 Image Formation and Delivery Process as A Proof for Verifiability of Imagery Translation
      ................................................................................................................................................. 20
6. Approaching Imagery from Different Perspectives-Classification of Imagery ........................... 22
      6.1 Image in Broad Sense and Image in Narrow Sense .......................................................... 22
      6.2 Dynamic Image and Static Image ..................................................................................... 24
      6.3 Image According to Different Sensuous Functions ........................................................... 24
      6.4 Image According to Different Figures of Speech .............................................................. 29
7. The Combination of Imagery ...................................................................................................... 33
      7.1 Juxtaposition ..................................................................................................................... 33
      7.2 Superposition .................................................................................................................... 34
      7.3 Interassemblage ................................................................................................................. 35
      7.4 Radiation ........................................................................................................................... 35
8. The Artistic Features of Imagery................................................................................................. 35
      8.1 Images as Subjective analogical creation .......................................................................... 35
      8.2 Formularization ................................................................................................................. 36
      8.3 Ambiguity.......................................................................................................................... 37
9. The Translatability of Imagery in Classical Chinese Poetry ....................................................... 38
      9.1 The Homology of the Signifier and the Isomorphs of Semantic System .......................... 39
      9.2 Cultural Interaction and Permeation ................................................................................. 39
10. The Ultimacy of Testification of Imagery Translation—Norms and Strategies for Imagery
Translation....................................................................................................................................... 39
      10.1 Norms for Imagery Translation ....................................................................................... 39

                     On Testification of Translation of Imagery in Classical Chinese Poetry

     10.2 Strategies for Imagery Translation .................................................................................. 40
11. Conclusion................................................................................................................................. 48
References ....................................................................................................................................... 50


     First and foremost I would like to express my greatest gratitude to my supervisor, Professor

Bao Tongfa, for his invaluable and indispensable guidance, encouragement, enthusiasm, and

enlightenment throughout all the stages of completing this thesis. It is such a great pleasure and

fortune to work on the thesis under his guidance. No matter how often I met with him, his door

was always open to me. Not only did he shared his experience and expertise with me, but

personally also showed me how to be a good researcher. There is no doubt that his expertise and

his character will significantly influence my future research development and personal life.

     My gratitude also goes to many other teachers in Jiangnan University who taught me

undergraduate courses, to whom I owe much of my knowledge in the English language, linguistics

and especially in translation. They have either broadened my horizon through their scholarly

lectures, or helped me in every possible way. I am especially indebted to Miss.Xu, whose

Comprehensive English class laid a solid foundation for my further improvement in English

proficiency and competency. My special thanks also go to Professor Gong, Professor Chen, and

Professor Song, whose Advanced English lectures helped me renew my earlier intake, and build

up some insightful thoughts about translation, and to Professor Yang, whose Business English

class sharpened my insight and diversified my knowledge. I also owe Professor Hu thanks, whose

English literature class is as charismatic as he is, which impressed me and inspired me a lot.

     Then mentions should be made of my classmates and roommates. During four-year university

life, they have shared their happiness, celebrate mine, and bolstered me through bouts of despair

and depression. They, too, deserve thanks.

     Of course, I can not go without thanking my family for their unflinching support. To my

mother, who instilled me with a desire to learn and drive to do my best always, and my father, who

worked very hard to financially support me during my study in Jiangnan University and whose

fortitude and courage inspired me to be a strong man.

     I owe so much. I wish I could promise to return what I have received ten-fold. But I can not

multiply something that is priceless. I can only try to reciprocate with kindness, confidence, and

love. And, of course, I will always try to say “Thanks.”

              On Testification of Translation of Imagery in Classical Chinese Poetry

                                    Abstract & Key Words
Abstract: Image is an essential and indispensable unit of poetry creation in classical Chinese
poetics and a special and significant unit of aesthetic appreciation in poetic aesthetics. Imagery
serves as a medium to express a thought or sentiment through words, to connect concrete objects
with artistic conception, and to eventually realize the exchanges between the poets and the readers.
Orientalist Arthur Waley said that imagery is the soul of poetry. Scholar from Ming Dynasty Hu
Yinglin also believed that “The charm of ancient Chinese poetry lies in its lifelike images”.
Therefore, translating poetry is, largely, translating imagery. According to aesthetic ontology,
cross-cultural transference of the literary image is considered to bear the characteristics of
nontestification in terms of both its phenomenon and its essence. And traditional poetics always
regards the aesthetic beauty of the imagery in poetry as totally fuzzy and completely
immeasurable, which leads to more subjective understanding and less objective cognition and thus
presents a deconstructive tendency. Different from the above point of view, this thesis suggests
that the decoding and reconstruction of the imagery in poetry is not a totally immensurable and
irregular activity, rather it has its own rules and principles and it can be testified through its
formation process. It is based on the testifiability of the imagery that the thesis expands on
imagery translation. The testification of imagery translation consists of two parts: testifiability of
image and verifiability of interlingual translation of the image. This paper begins with the
definition and connotation of the term “yan” (what is said), “xiang” (image), “yi” (concept in the
mind) and their interactive relation, pointing out the importance of image as a medium linking
language and poet‟s idea. The second part of this paper reviewed the development of imagery over
time, and further discussed the characteristics of imagery in classical Chinese poetry in
comparison with and contrast to imagery concept from the western countries. The third part
analyzed the founding base for the testifiability of imagery in Chinese classical poetry from five
different facets, namely the formation of imagery, the authenticity of imagery, the classification of
imagery, the combination pattern of imagery, and the artistic features of imagery. The fourth part
testified the feasibility of imagery translation or imagery translatability, and then in light of the
testifiability of imagery and verifiability of imagery translation, the paper finally brings up with
poetic constructive translation strategies with the function equivalence theory, the skopos theory
and the reception aesthetics theory as the guidance.

Key Words: imagery in classical Chinese poetry, imagery translation, testification of imagery

               translation, strategies for imagery translation.





               On Testification of Translation of Imagery in Classical Chinese Poetry

        On Testification of Translation of Imagery in Classical
                                       Chinese Poetry
1. Introduction
     Poetry is all about imagery. Poetry, to some extent, is imagery. An “image” is the essential and

indispensable unit of poetry creation in classical Chinese poetics and the special and significant unit

of aesthetic appreciation in poetic aesthetics. Imagery, as the core concept of poetics ontology, is

acknowledged as a medium to express a thought or sentiment through words, to connect concrete

objects with artistic conception, and to eventually realize the exchanges between the poets and the

readers. Orientalist Arthur Waley said that imagery is the soul of poetry. Scholar from Ming Dynasty

Hu Yinglin also believed that “The charm of ancient Chinese poetry lies in its lifelike images”1(Zhu

Hui, 1996:3). Therefore, translating poetry is, largely, translating imagery. According to aesthetic

ontology, cross-cultural transference of the literary image is considered to bear the characteristics of

nontestification in terms of both its phenomenon and its essence. And traditional poetics always

regards the aesthetic beauty of the imagery in poetry as totally fuzzy and completely immeasurable,

which leads to more subjective understanding and less objective cognition and thus presents a

deconstructive tendency. Different from the above point of view, this thesis suggests that the

decoding and reconstruction of the imagery in poetry is not a totally immensurable and irregular

activity, rather it has its own rules and principles and it can be testified through its formation process.

It is based on the testifiability of the imagery that the thesis expands on imagery translation. The

term “testifiability of imagery” refers to the fact that imagery in Chinese poetry has its traceable

origin and its rational and scientific way to be created, that it can be identified and comprehended in

terms of its development, its way of formation, the form of its existence, and above all, the sensation

and sentiment it conveys despite of the language-specific idiosyncrasies. The testification of

imagery translation consists of two parts: testifiability of image and verifiability of interlingual

translation of the image. This paper begins with the definition and connotation of the term “yan”

(what is said), “xiang” (image), “yi” (concept in the mind) and their interactive relation, pointing out

the importance of image as a medium linking language and poet‟s idea. The second part of this

paper reviewed the development of imagery over time, and further discussed the characteristics of

imagery in classical Chinese poetry in comparison with and contrast to imagery concept from the


western countries. The third part analyzed the founding base for the testifiability of imagery in

Chinese classical poetry from five different facets, namely, the formation of imagery, the trueness of

imagery, the categories of imagery, the combination pattern of imagery, and the artistic features of

imagery. The fourth part testified the feasibility of imagery translation or imagery translatability, and

then in light of the testifiability of imagery and verifiability of imagery translation, the thesis finally

brings up with poetic constructive translation strategies with the function equivalence theory, the

skopos theory and reception aesthetics theory as the guidance.

2. “Yan”, “Xiang”, “Yi” and Their Interactive Relation
     The earliest argument over the relations between Yan, Xiang and Yi can be found in Book of

Changes(Yi Jing, 易经), a philosophical work reflecting early people‟s way of thinking. In its

Appended StatementsⅠ(Xi Ci, 系辞上), it says: What is written (shu) does not give the fullness of

what is said; what is said does not give the fullness of the concept in the mind (yi). If this is so,

then does it mean that the concepts in the minds of the Sages can not be perceived? The Sages

established the images(xiang) to give the fullness of the concepts in their minds, and they set up

the hexagrams to give the fullness of what is true and false in a situation(qing); to these they

appended statements(Xi Ci) to give the fullness of what was said...2(Stephen Owen, 1992:31) (子

曰:         ”然则圣人之意,其不可见乎?圣人立象以尽意,设卦以尽情伪,

系辞焉以尽其言) In its Appended Statements Ⅱ Ci,系辞下),it states: Anciently, when Bao-xi

come to the rule of all under heaven, looking up, he contemplated the brilliant forms exhibited in

the sky, and looking down he surveyed the patterns shown on the earth. He contemplated the

ornamental appearances of birds and beasts and the different suitabilities of the soil. Near at hand,

in his own person, he found things for consideration and the same at a distance, in things in

general. On this he devised the eight trigrams, to show fully the attributes of the spirit-like and

intelligent (operations working secretly), and to classify the qualities of the myriads of things. 3(I

Legge, 1993: 318)(古者包牺氏之王天下也,仰则观物取象于天,俯则观法于地,观鸟兽之文

与地之宜,近取诸身,远取诸物,于是始作八卦,以通神明之德,以类万物之情) The practice

of establishing the images to give the fullness of the concepts in the minds by ancient people

reflects the metaphysics of “Nature and human beings are integrated”. The will of Nature is too

enigmatic and occult to be presented or expressed in common words. It can not be understood or

              On Testification of Translation of Imagery in Classical Chinese Poetry

seen through without imaginative images. Such kinds of images are metaphysical and the practice

of establishing such images to give fullness of the concept in one‟s mind is therefore idealistic and

spiritualistic. But its way of formation, that is the combination of subjective concept and objective

substance, and its metaphorical way of expressing spiritual activities such as through sensual

feeling, imaginative awareness are similar to the image theory in poetry. Another philosopher from

the period of Cao & Wei Kingdom Wang Bi(王弼,226-294) further illustrates the triatic structure

of “concept(yi)”, “image(xiang)” and “language(yan)” as follows: The image is what brings out

concept; language is what clarifies the image. Nothing can equal image in giving the fullness of

concept; nothing can equal language in giving the fullness of image. Language was born of the

image, thus we seek in language in order to observe the concept. Concept is fully given in image;
image is overt in language. (Owen. Stephen, 1993: 34)(夫象者出意者也,言者明象着也。尽


尽,象以言著。故言者所以明象,得象而忘言;象者所以存意,得意而忘象) Although the image

here still refers to divinatory symbols, the discussion of the relation between image, language and

concept, has been raised to a general philosophical world. The dynamic relation between image,

language and concept can also be found in the poetry creation and appreciation process. According

to the poet‟s artistic way of thinking, image refers to the objective things, including the concrete

objects from Nature and social events and various relationships. It is the raw material of thinking,

and the carrier of concept. Concept refers to the subjective thought, awareness, consciousness of

the poets, and it is the core content of poet‟s thinking and the purpose that image tries to convey.

Language refers to the human poetic symbols which record human beings‟ thinking by using

words as basic record unit, and it is the written form that can make it possible for movement of

aesthetic appreciation of poetry from poet‟s emotion or thought to the image itself and further to

the image beyond image. From the perspective of cross cultural communication, the translation of

Chinese classical poetry is a restitution process from image in the poet‟s mind to image in the

readers‟ mind. The movement of translation process can be illustrated in the following diagram:


           fused with
          subjective emotions                                poet
objective                       image in the poet‟s mind               written image in ST
phenomena                                                                             lost
                                                                     Translator‟s      and
                                                                    Reconstruction compensated
                                 Image in readers‟ mind                   written image in TT

      But such restitution is by no means an absolute one, and it has both gains and losses. What

is gained or lost depends on the distance between language and concept in the translation process,

and in nature it is based on the translator‟s cognition of the image in the poetry. So whether the

Chinese classical poetry can be translated successfully to a large extent lies in the decoding

process of the image in the poetry. But here comes the problem. The images in Chinese classical

poetry are created by the principle of highlighting the essence and downrating the appearance and

they are in pursuit of suggestiveness, vagueness and simplicity; therefore they inevitably bear the

multivocal, infinite derivative characteristics. Can such poetic image be caught and decoded? To

answer this question, we must first decide whether image is purely humane, spiritual and

enigmatic or it does have some identifiable rational logic, which entails the research and

exploration into the origin of the imagery in classical Chinese poetry.

3. The Origin and Development of Imagery in Chinese Classical

     The word “xiang”(Image), originally refers only to the elephant, an animal in the open wild.

Later its meaning was extended to include the image of concrete objects, even invented pictures.

The divinatory images in Book of Changes for the first time endowed image with the conceptual

function. The focus of this chapter is to review and investigate the development of image from its

origin to its mature existence. Going through four stages of development, namely, metaphysical

imagery, musical & ritual imagery, aesthetic imagery, and associative imagery, we try to find its

source and origin, its historical proof for its existence and its logic and rationality for further

analysis of the testifiability of imagery translation.
3.1 Metaphysical Imagery
     Metaphysical image originated from ontological philosophy of Taoism. Later Zhuangzi

developed the image theory. The follow-up Book of Changes also promoted the realistic side of

              On Testification of Translation of Imagery in Classical Chinese Poetry

metaphysical. The Book Laozi claims that “Tao” (the Way) is the origin of the world. According to

this ontology, it is Tao that gives birth to all the creatures in the world. It equals no concrete

objects. It exists with no shape or form, no content or weight, and is indescribable and nameless.

But the Tao with “nothing” as its essence is by no measure nonentity. For the Way is a thing

impalpable, incommensurable. Incommensurable, impalpable, yet latent in it are images;

impalpable, incommensurable, yet within it are entities. Shadowy it is and dim, yet within it there

is a force, a force that though rarefied is none the less efficacious5(Arthur Waley, 1999: 43)(道之


甚真,其中有信). The above quoted lines from Laozi means that though without form or content,

Tao can still give birth to all the creatures on the earth. This illustrates that Tao bears the function

and necessary information for nurturing creatures. Images and entities here can prove this. But

such images and entities are not presented with the form of concrete objects, rather they are

metaphysical images and can only be caught by people‟s imagination. That is why Laozi states:

Great music has the faintest notes, Great form is without shape. They are called shapeless shapes;

forms without form. (Arthur Waley, 1999: 85)(大音希声,大象无形;无状之状,无物之象)The

image in Laozi is metaphysical image, and it comes out of imagination。 in Zhuangzi, while the

image is still metaphysical, the way that we see image has changed from “Tao bearing image” to

“image reflecting Tao”. In the chapter Heaven and Earth of Zhuangzi The yellow Emperor was

traveling to the north of the Red Waters when he climbed up Kunlun Mountains and looked

southward. When he came home, he found that his mysterious pearl(Tao) was lost. Knowledge

was sent to search for it, but he failed. Sight was sent to search for it, but he also failed. Speech

was sent to search for it, he failed again. Xiangwang was sent to search for it, and he found it
(Wang Rongpei, 1999:177) ( 黄帝游乎赤水之地,登乎昆仑之丘而南望,还归,遗其玄珠。


“mysterious pear” metaphorically refers to Tao, “knowledge” is compared to rational cognition,

“sight” the sensual experience, “speech” the language and eloquence, and Xiangwang the

imaginative animal. The way by which Xiangwang can finally find mysterious pearl or Tao is not

by sight or by sense, but by spiritual intuition and recognition. Zhuangzi‟s way of thinking, that is,

reflecting Tao by image, highlights the importance of image. Though the image here still belongs

to the metaphysical image, but it has already had certain shape, and possessed a certain rationality


and logic. Later the Book of Changes correlated “establishing the images to give the fullness of

concept” with “taking the images out of concrete objects”, so as to make the image become the

medium linking up metaphysical and physical world. All in all, the images in Laozi, Zhuangzi, and

Book of Changes, are not concrete images, rather they are abstract and metaphysical, and are

discussed in the world of philosophy. But they possess certain objectivity and rationality, and they

are recognized as the origin of aesthetic image in classical Chinese poetry.
3.2 Musical Imagery and Ritual Imagery
     Another source of aesthetic image in Chinese classical poetry is musical image and ritual

image. Musical image originated from Xunzi. In the chapter Discourse on Music (   乐论》)

it states: “The gentleman uses the bell and drum to guide the inner mind and the se and qin zithers

to gladden the heart. He is excited by the shields and battle-axes, is refined by the feathers and yak

tails, and is made obedient by the chime stones and flutes. Thus, the music‟s purity and clarity of

melody are in the image of Heaven; its breadth and greatness of its rhythmic beat are in the image

of Earth; the dancers‟ poses and positions, their revolutions and movements, generally resemble

the four seasons. Hence, when music is performed, the inner mind becomes pure; and when ritual

is cultivated, conduct is perfected. The ears become acute and the eye clear-sighted; the blood

humor becomes harmonious and in equilibrium, manners are altered and customs changed. The

entire world is made tranquil, and enjoys together beauty and goodness.”7 (J. Knoblock, 1999:

659) (君子以钟鼓道志,以琴瑟乐心,动以干戚,饰以羽旄,从以磬管。故其清明象天,其


风易俗,天下皆宁。 The musical image is formed by letting music imitating the four seasons, and

its purpose is to make people tranquil and society harmonious. Compared to metaphysical image

in earlier history, the musical image here has broken through the limitation of mysteriousness and

enigmatic ness of metaphysical image, and it takes the form of concrete objects, such as Heaven

and Earth, and above all, it lays more stress on real life guidance. It comes nearer to aesthetic

image. But musical image in this sense is rarefied. More often, musical image inclined to sound

pattern. Later Wang Chong, a noted philosophy from East Han Dynasty wrote in his book On

Balance: Therefore the emperor has the banner painted with earth dragon, and then he symbolized

the banner as the vassal and shot it as a way to subordinating the vassals. Such a rite is symbolic in

that it just named certain things to express certain meaning. (夫画布为熊麋之象,名布为侯,礼

              On Testification of Translation of Imagery in Classical Chinese Poetry

贵意象,示义取名也)(王充《论衡·乱龙篇》)Here the image is a ritual image. Musical image and

ritual image are realized by metaphor and compared to metaphysical image; they are more closed

to people‟s real life, and more closely related to the artistic creation. And it is because of this,

musical image and ritual image has become intergradations of the transitional period from

metaphysical image to the aesthetic image.
3.3 Aesthetic Imagery
     Before aesthetic imagery comes into being, poetry writing has already utilized concrete

image as a medium to express certain concept. However, it put more emphasis on virtue-analogy,

and its preference to political and moral doctrines overshadowed the aesthetic value. All these

have prevented poetry‟s further development as an independent art form. It is at this moment that

aesthetic image come onto the stage and eventually realized the breakthrough from metaphysical

image to image with objects and sentiment incorporated and united in one. The appearance of

aesthetic image was accompanied by “human‟s awakening” and “literature‟s awakening” during

Wei and Jin Dynasty. Human‟s consciousness of individuality and the recognition of life value as

an individual go into making literati believe that writing is a way in which one‟s life value can be

reflected and realized and in which one‟s life eternity and immorality can be achieved. Therefore

the literati have since then attached great importance to individual feeling and sentiment, and the

virtue-analogy mode of thinking was transformed into a mode based on individual sensation and

sentiment. Later “reasoning sentiment” and “observing objects” trend of thoughts further drove the

literati to put more efforts in identifying the relationship between “sentiment” and “objects”,

which made it possible for personal sentiment and objective image to interweaving with each

other naturally in artistic creation process. And this is the embryo of the way that aesthetic image

is formed.

     The earliest statement of aesthetic image can be found in On Literature Genre by Zhi Yu in

West Jin Dynasty. It made clear its argument from the very beginning that “The literature is what

describes images of concrete objects either in the sky or on the earth, clarifies the statement of

human relations, and gets to the bottom of things‟ nature and quality in order to find out the

suitability of all the creatures in the world.” (文章者,所以宣上下之象,明人伦之叙,穷理尽性,

以究万物之宜者也)(挚虞《文章疏别论》) This statement is consistent with the thinking mode of

“taking the images out of concrete objects” in Book of Changes. Also in the same article by Zhi Yu,


it argues that “when ancient poets wrote poetry, they were at first driven by sensation and

sentiment, and finally the poetry ended in pursuit of ethics and righteousness. The conveyance of

poet‟s sensation and sentiment can be achieved by words; the purport of the poetry needs concrete

examples to clarify. Therefore literature genre Fu comes answering the call which capitalizes on

image to express people‟s thoughts.” (古之作诗者,发乎情,止乎礼义。情之发,因辞以形之;

礼义之旨,须事以明之。故有赋焉,所以假象尽辞,敷陈其志) (挚虞《文章疏别论》 This marks

the naissance of imagery concept in the Fu literature. Later Lu Ji, a famous calligrapher in West

Jin Dynasty, played the imagery concept into full swing in all literatures. In his article Essays on

Literature, there are considerable statements concerning image creation. For instance, when the

train of thoughts in writing starts off, it says “遵四时以叹逝,瞻万物而思纷”(陆机《文赋》)(With

seasons changing cyclically, he(the poet) sighed over the lapse of time, and when his eyes met the

creatures, his thought surged in thousands of millions.) When image functions, it writes “情瞳昽

而弥鲜,物昭晰而互进” (陆机《文赋》) (The scene in sight is as bright and brilliant as the rising

sun, and the images of the objects are clearer and come forth in large numbers.) When it talks of

diction, it states “笼天地于形内,挫万物于笔端” (陆机《文赋》) (Including the whole world into

his heart and condensing all the things in poet‟s pen point.) When it comes to expatiation and

description, it suggests: “纷纭挥霍,形难为状” (陆机《文赋》 (Things are in various forms and in

constant changes, so it is hard to depict them.) Until this time, the aesthetic image has gradually

made its way to the heartland of literary creation. And later the publication of Carving a Dragon

with a Literary Mind(文心雕龙) by Liu Xie(刘勰,465-520) marked the final establishment of

the aesthetic image as a complete and complicated system. The sixth chapter of the volume,

“Elucidating Poetry”(Ming Shi, 明诗) says that “Man is endowed with seven emotions, which are

moved in response to objects. When moved by objects one signs of one‟s intent totally

spontaneously.(人禀七情,应物思感,感悟吟志,莫非自然)”(刘勰《文心雕龙》). In the 26th

chapter “Spiritual Thinking”(Shen Si, 神思), Liu Xie used the term Yi xiang as a compound words

for the first time in discussing poetry. He said “an original poet should create in imagery (独照之

匠,窥意象而运斤)” (刘勰《文心雕龙》) He defines “meter & rhyme” and “image” as two most

important elements in poetry, which signals that, the theory of imagery officially came into

existence. Chapter “Spiritual Thinking” also points out the interaction between the sensual object

and abstract concept, identifying the essential and fundamental characteristics of imagery thinking

              On Testification of Translation of Imagery in Classical Chinese Poetry

mode, which indicates the maturity of aesthetic image theory. The aesthetic image theory in

Chinese classical poetry was later adopted by people in Tang Dynasty. Wang Chang-ling(王昌

龄,698-756)stated in his The Poetic Form(Shi Ge, 诗格)that Musing and meditating for a long

time, but the poet didn‟t find an appropriate image conforming to his concept “久用精思,未契意

象” (王昌龄《诗格》). In the book Realm of Poetry by the famous poet and critique Sikong Tu of

late Tang Dynasty, it states: “images are about to come out when wonder shows(意象欲出,造化

已奇) ” (王昌龄《诗格》 The aesthetic image as a result of poets‟ pondering certainly has the same

expressive function with traditional metaphysical image theory. But the discrepancy is that what

aesthetic image expresses are neither mysterious providence and Tao, nor religious doctrine or

morality, but personal sensation and sentiment, the life experience and aesthetic appreciation of

real-life activities. And it is because of this that it can be more flexible and free to utilize various

objects to demonstrate inner-life interests.

     The aesthetic image possesses the characteristics of justifiability and testifiability in that it is

based on concrete objects and has its real-life source and origin. While at the same time, it also

bears the elements of non-testifiability because the sensation and sentiment or the concept encoded

by the poet into the poetry is conditioned by individual case, and the absolute restitution is hard to

achieve. But according to Chinese tradition, individual sentiment or concept is interdependent

with general public‟s thinking mode, even with providence or Tao, and the vibrancy of individual

life is often mixed with the symphony of universal life as a whole, and therefore aesthetic image

bears duality of individual interest and universal concern. In this sense, we can identify the

individual interest by generalizing it. By this way the testifiablity of the aesthetic image has been

raised to a higher level and can provide us with clues for approaching individual thoughts.
3.4 Associative Imagery
     With the prosperity of literature in Tang Dynasty, the image theory was further developed in

this flourishing age. The term “Associative imagery” was coined to refer specially to poetic image.

The first appearance of this term is in the book An Anthology of the Spirits of Martyrs by Yin Fan.

In the preface, when the author criticized the stodgy literature works, he said: “It is lacking in

rationality, abundant in pleonasm and it ignores associative image, and exalts nothing but

pompous.” (理则不足,言常又余,都无兴象,但贵轻艳) (殷蹯《河岳英灵集》)When he

commented on Tao Han‟s poetry, he said: “not only rich in associative images, but possessing


strength and spirits.” (既多兴象,复备风骨) When he commented on Meng Haoran‟s poetry, he

said: “Giving due attention to both the concrete entity and associative images.” (无论兴象,兼复

故实) With all the above-mentioned statements, what does the term “associative image” really

mean? What are its characteristics? To answer this question, we need start with the term Xing. In

Wang Changling‟s The Poetic Form(Shi Ge, 诗格), he said: “Poetry can be a success only when it

fuses the objects and sentiment harmoniously. If there are only objects and no sentiment being

triggered or aroused, even though the objects have the finest quality, they are useless.” (凡诗,物

色兼意下为好,若有物色,无意兴,虽巧亦无处用之) (王昌龄《诗格》) From that quotation,

we can see that Xing is correlated with sentiment, and more than that, related to the ideolrealm of

poetry. As we already discussed, the concept that the aesthetic image presented in the poetry has

both sentiment and reasoning. But the reasoning outweighed the sentiment. Compared with the

aesthetic image, associative image are not so much concerned about the reasoning, and rather it

focuses on the associative function of image. So it is multivocal and infinite derivative.

Associative image often gives people an highly implicit impression, making people feel there is

still untouched meaning lingering around after appreciation. In other words, associative image is

the image beyond images. It is just like what Zheng Su described: Poetry has dynamic sentences

all because of connotative words in it. By connotative, it means there are abundant association

beyond the image, and though the words are limited, not the thoughts. By this, the author means

that poet‟s intentions are between the lines, behind the image and the readers are expected to go

beyond images to catch poet‟s thoughts.

     Going through the virtue-analogy thinking mode during Pre-Qin and Double Han Dynasty,

direct and straightforward expressing method adopted by Wei Dynasty, expressing emotion

through sceneries in Southern Dynasties, the Chinese classical poetry reached its peak and

pinnacle. It is at this time that that deep structure of poetic image, that is, the dual world of within

image and beyond image was officially formed. Associative image‟s emergence further promoted

the image theory. It highlights poetry‟s function of demonstrating sentiment and sensation, making

the individual‟s life experience and aesthetic appreciation much clearer. It developed the aesthetic

image and pointed out that poet‟s sentiment and sensation are expressed through images but at the

same time beyond images, elucidating the development from within images to beyond images. In

conclusion, the associative image theory marked the full realization of image rationality and its

              On Testification of Translation of Imagery in Classical Chinese Poetry

expressive function, making it the medium between poetic images to poetic realm.

4. The Comparison and Contrast of Imagery Theory between China

and Western World
     Imagery is one of the convergences in Chinese and Western Poetics. But there certainly exist

considerable fundamental differences and conflicts between them.
4.1 Definition and Connotation of Aesthetic Imagery in Chinese Classical Poetry
     Aesthetic Imagery has been a central critical term in the Chinese poetic practice from its very

beginning, as Pauline Yu put it: “In other worlds, unlike in the West, where the image began with

the mere function of enargia, making one seem to see something, the Chinese image from its first

formulations was felt to embody a greater significance.”8 (Yu, 1987:40) Though the term image or

“意象”(yixiang) enjoys a long history, there has not been any commonly agreed definition for

image in Chinese classical poetry.
              Imagery is the product of imagination. The term, as one of the most in modern
              criticism and one of the most general and variable in meaning, covers verbal, and, or,
              non-verbal description or representation of objects, actions, feelings, thoughts, ideas,
              states of mind, and any sensory and extra-sensory experience. More specifically,
              imagery signifies the collective body of images, or images taken collectively; all the
              objects and qualities of sense perception referred to in the poem; the formation and
              presentation of images. 9(Luo Xuanmin, 2002:157)
     The above quoted definition of imagery from Appreciation of English and American

Literature-Essay & Poetry, can not be applied satisfactorily to image or “意象”(yixiang)in the

Chinese classical poetry in that image has different connotations in the Western literature and

Chinese literature. A noted scholar Wu Cheng defines image as a kind of inspiring compound

which is formed by fusing the poet‟s inner feeling or thoughts with the exterior object. This

definition is more close to the essence of image. On the survey of the origin and development of

the imagery in Chinese classical poetry, the author of this dissertation tentatively brings forward

the following version of definition: Aesthetic imagery is the poetic artistic fusion of objective

phenomena in nature and social life and poet‟s subjective emotions or thoughts, which bears dual

meanings, literal meaning and poetic meaning. The connotations of image in Chinese classical

poetry are summarized by Professor Qu Guang as follows:

    A. Xiang refers to all the physical existence, including invisible substance and all

        manifestation of moving things, such as sound, wind and human action; Yi refers to poets‟


        subjective ideology, for instance his emotion, ambitions, cognition and hallucination.

    B. The essence of Yixiang is implicitness and indirectness. The poets do not express his

        concept or thoughts directly and straightforwardly. Rather they infuse their concepts into

        images thus images bear dual meanings, literal meaning and connotative meaning. The

        words, line or poem without double meanings shall not be regarded as image.

    C. Yi (concept) is the primary, while xiang is subordinate; Yi is the purpose, while Xiang is

        the method; Yi is the content, while Xiang is the vehicle.

    D. Xiang and Yi can only form an image when they have certain rational and poetic


    E. Yixiang is the result of poet‟s special aesthetic creation. The same Xiang can bear

        different Yi to different poets or the same poet in different time and place.

    F. Yixiang is a stable structure formed by numerous unstable elements. It is static in form,

        exclusive in origin but multivocal in decoding process.10(Qu Guang, 2002:165)

     Yixiang is the poetic noumenon in poetry. All things in the world, be it a concrete object, an

event, a bearing, a behavior or even the presentation of a state of mind can form an image. Poetry

can reflect poet‟s thoughts only by image. Without image, poetry will lose aesthetic subject and be

reduced to nothing but meaningless words.
4.2 Western Concept of Poetic Imagery
     Western imagery theory originated from German Romanticism Literary Movement in late

18th century. During that time, Kant for the first time brought up with the term “ Aesthetic Idée”,

and Chinese aesthete Zhu Guangqian later translated it into “审美意象” according to its Greek

etymology. Kant said the aesthetic idée was the image formed by imagination. It can invite people

to recall many things, but it can not be explicitly defined by any specific thought or concept. So no

words are appropriate to make it understandable and comprehensible11(Zhu Guangqian, 1982:39).

He also pointed out that the reason why such images could be called aesthetic idée was that on one

hand, these images were meant to explore things beyond experience, or things close to logos,

making logos acquire the appearance of objective reality; on the other hand, these images as

intuitive images out of one‟s deep heart could not be fully identified by concept. From Kant‟s

point of view, we can clearly see that imagery concept in the West bears the Plato‟s idealism at the

very beginning of its life journey.

               On Testification of Translation of Imagery in Classical Chinese Poetry

     The term “Image” has then spread all over the West world with the prevalence of imagination

theory. Imagery has become a topic of discussion among literary critics. C. Day Lewis (1948)

maintained that a poetic image is a picture made from words and that a poem is itself an image

composed of a. multiplicity of images12(Wang Xianpei, 1999:201). C. Spurgeon, a British critic,

suggests in her book Shakespeare's Imagery and What It Tells Us, (Cambridge 1935) image as

every imaginative picture drawn in every way that may have come to the poet, not only through

his senses, but also through his mind and emotions, as well as the forms of simile and metaphor

for the purpose of analogy. Spurgeon defines an image as the little word-picture used by a poet or

prose writer to illustrate, illuminate and embellish his thought. It is a stated or understood

description or idea, which by comparison or analogy, transmits something of the “wholeness”, the

depth and richness of what the writer is telling us through the emotions and associations it

arouses13(Wang Xianpei, 1999:202).

     20th century witnessed a profound interest in imagery by many literary critics. New critics

tried to probe into the united leitmotiv of the literary works; Archetypal criticism made its effort to

dig out the psychological and cultural archetype; Structuralistic semiology discovered intertextual

phenomenon through images‟ intersecting axes; Psychological analysis perceived the impulse of

the oppressed desires; Deconstructionists figured out a way to deconstruct the works through

image mode. Of all schools of thoughts, imagism was the most influential and popular. T.E.Hulme

(1883-1917), the founder with Ezra Pound of Imagist Poetry, first formulated the doctrine that

images in verse are not mere decoration, but the very essence of an intuitive language. For Humle,

precise description concerns the recording of images. Poetry is by virtue of the image while prose

merely describes. Poetry is bad when it distracts the attention away from the physical uniqueness

and integrity of the image and leaved the reader to glide through an abstract process. It is concrete,

because the image can be represented only as concrete, and entirely devoid of discursive meanings

and appeals to the intellect; it is the direct representation of what is intuited.

     Following Hulme, the celebrated imagism poet Ezra Pound (1885-1973) defined imagery as

“an intellectual and emotional complex in an instant of time.”14 (T.S. Eliot, 1954:4) and later he

extended this definition as “a vortex or cluster of fused ideas” “endowed with energy.” He

emphasized the concentration of intellectual and emotional content possible in a poetic image,

thought it mirrored only a brief moment of experience. “The point of Imagism”, says Pounds, “is


that it does not use images as ornaments. The image itself is the speech. The image is the word

beyond formulated language.”15(T.S. Eliot, 1954:3) He took the image to be the poet‟s “primary

pigment” and stressed the hardness, or concreteness, of sensory language, telling poets to “go in

fear of abstractions”16.(T.S. Eliot, 1954:5) The images Pound stressed are different from common

concrete objects in that they are organized into a poetic artistic organic structure and permeated

with individual‟s aesthetic experience. They are produced by integrating objective matters and

subjective emotions. The way Imagism approaches imagery from the unity of subjectivity and

objectivity, meanings and images is totally against the traditional western poetics, rather it is

consistent with Chinese classical imagery theory.

     T.S. Eliot (1888-1965), an acknowledged leader of the new verse and criticism both in

America and Great Britain, brought up with the principle of “objective correlative” when he

elucidated Shakespeare‟s Hamlet. “The only way of expressing emotion in the form of art is by

finding an „objective correlative‟; in other words, a set of objects, a situation, a chain of events,

which shall be the formula of that particular emotion; such that when the external acts, which must

terminate in sensory experience, are given the emotion is immediately evoked.”17(Chang Yaoxin,


     Here we quote Mr.C Day Lewis‟s statement as a trial summary of imagery in the sense of

western literary critics: “I think that every image-even the most purely emotional or intellectual

one-has some trace of the sensuous in it. … The poetic image, as it… searches for connections by

the light of an impassioned experience, reveals truth and makes it acceptable to us.”18(James Y.

Liu, 1962:103) The viewpoint is consistent with the thoughts in Lakoff‟s Embodied Philosophy.
4.3 Difference between Image and Yixiang
   The image in Imagism has certain similarity with image in classical Chinese poetry in that

both have expressive function, but such an image focuses on the direct presentation of

instantaneous feeling, thus is prone to staying at the stage of intuitive impression and bears few

connotations. Chinese image theory is based on the Taoism principle “Human and Nature are

integrated.” It regards image as the representation and reflection of poets‟ life experience and

aesthetic experience, and as the central part during the life circle of the poetry from “concept” to


     The term “Image” in western literary critics usually refers to concrete representation of

              On Testification of Translation of Imagery in Classical Chinese Poetry

objective matters. It is different from Yixiang in Chinese poetics. Western imagery concentrates on

objective existence, while Yixiang in Chinese poetics stresses sensation and sentiment. The former

is produced by imitation and representation, while the latter is constructed by infusing Yi into

Xiang. The former‟s responsibility is to depict the society and real life and the latter‟s function is

to convey individual‟s life experience in hopes of arousing resonance among readers. The former

highlights retrospect, representation and reorganization while the latter emphasizes inner life

experience, association and creation. The former lays particular stress on outer face while the latter

put more emphasis on interaction between physical world and spiritual world. In a word, image in

the sense of western literary critics lays more emphasis on seeking objective correlatives of

emotions in concrete ojects, or the instinct perception and immediate reflection of the objective

world by the subjects, while image in Chinese classical poetry is created in a higher level of poetic

world, a fusion of objectivity and subjectivity, scene and emotion, nature and self, thus bearing

more implications than the counterpart in the Western literary critics.
4.4 The Development Trend of Imagery Theory
     From the development trend of imagery theory, we can also perceive the remarkable

discrepancy of image theory‟s evolutionary path between China and Western world. Western poets

make their way to the essence and nature of objective world by depiction and representation of

concrete objects and aim at the generality of the objects through typification. Typical theory is the

basic thinking mode for western literary and arts. While Chinese image theory attaches great

importance to the expressive function of the poetry, expanding the scope of the meaning image

can reflect, from within image to beyond image, with the result that image or Yixiang sublimates

to artistic pinnacle, the ideorealm of poetry. Ideorealm theory is the end-result of Chinese poetry‟s

aesthetic judgment. Typical theory is about aesthetic presentation, while Ideorealm theory is about

aesthetic apperception. Typical theory is the result of the further development of imitation theory,

while Ideal realm theory is the aesthetic pursuit initiated by Zhuangzi and Laozi.

5. The Formation of Imagery
5.1 The Theory of “Interaction of Mind and Matters”(心物交感)
     Traditional aesthetic theory holds that image is produced by the interaction between mind and

matters. The interaction is not confined to the moment when image is triggered; rather it is a

continuous and cyclic process. On the one hand, the mind regulates and controls the sensation and


sentiment, and on the other hand, the sensory organs catch and dispose concrete objects. The

convergence of mind and matters make it possible for mind to be more transparent and for matters

to be more systematic and self-consistent. It is just in this two-way construction process that image

is forcefully formed.
5.2 The Theory of “Reflecting Mind by Resorting to Image”(假象尽意) and
“Presenting Mind Triggered by Image”(貌题直书)
     The theory “Reflecting Mind by Resorting to Image” means that poets first feel the subjective

emotional impulse or form certain rational cognition, and then search for correspondent and

correlative image of concrete objects to bear his emotion or cognition. Such images are created

with specified motives. Wang Changling said that the image was acquired by searching and sifting

the objects, incorporating the mind into the situation, and infusing the objects with sentiments.

Take Li Bai‟s poem 《行路难》(其一) “欲渡黄河冰塞川, 将登太行雪满山” as an example, the

poet first realized that his lofty ideal was set back, and then searched out images of “ice has

blocked the Yellow River” “Tai Hang mountain is filled with snow”. The cognitive mechanism of

this image formation process starts with previous knowledge storing, by way of deduction and

ends with resorting to images to reflect poet‟s thoughts. This cognitive mechanism is the same as

that in image decoding and language encoding process in literary translation.

     “Presenting Mind Triggered by Image” means that there is no sentiment or sensations

emerging in poet‟s mind until the poet‟s eyes meet with images that trigger the poet‟s thought

immediately. The images created in this way often bear more fresh and natural color of the

creatures in Mother Nature, and the sensation and sentiment affiliated to objective image are more

often than not the direct and instant life experience. Emotional poetry flourishing during Han, Wei,

and Tang Dynasties took profound interest in using this way to create poetries. “Reflecting Mind

by Resorting to Image” and “Presenting Mind Triggered by Image” reflect the two opposite way

of human beings‟ cognitive direction, and provide a useful clue for recognizing the poetic thinking

mode during poetry translation process.
5.3 The Principle of Imagery Creation
     The epistemology and methodology of “interaction between Tao and Xiang” from Taoism

during ancient China‟ pre-Qin Dynasty is the very source and origin of Chinese classical poetry

creation. From the poetry-writing practice, we can clearly identify the principle of imagery

construction, that is, the balance and unity of Yi and Xiang, and the final integration and

                 On Testification of Translation of Imagery in Classical Chinese Poetry

sublimation of Yi and Xiang. In Wang Changling‟s The Poetic Form(Shi Ge, 诗格), he said,

“Poetry overflowing with thoughts is flavorless. So is the poetry full of views. It is only good

when due considerations are given to both views and thoughts.” Bai Juyi, a noted poet in Tang

Dynasty also pointed out that poetry has both inside and outside meaning, and that inside meaning

tries to elucidate poet‟s thought and outside meaning tries to depict faithfully the concrete objects.

(诗有内外意,内意欲尽其理, 外意欲尽其象)19By that he referred to the unity and integrity of Yi

and Xiang. The principle of imagery construction provides a useful guidance to imagery

translation practice that imagery translation should take account of both Yi and Xiang at the same

time. Translation can be a failure if we only probe into poet‟s thought regardless of the image in

original text or if we recompose the poetry in an excessive manner without valuing the original

5.4 The Authenticity of Imagery
        The imagery creation is a complex and complicated process. In this process, the poet‟s stream

of consciousness is active and dynamic. Judging from the different presentive form of imagery,

namely, single image, superpositional image, image group and radiative image, the stream of

consciousness also correspondingly act in different ways, from vibrating and sifting, to extending,

surging, spreading and changing. The conceptual meaning and Gestalt theory from Cognitive

linguistics has also provided proofs for the existence of stream of consciousness. The concept of

stream of consciousness on the one hand proves that the imagery creation process has certain

rationality and on the other hand demonstrates complicated and complex sociality and connotative

ness of imagery creation. Therefore it brings out the problem of the authenticity of the source of

image in imagery construction. This problem can directly influence the decoding of image and

further influence the cross culture and cross language translation.

5.4.1 Emotional Authenticity

        Emotional authenticity means that the poet‟s emotion fused into the objects is authentic and

independent of life authenticity of the imagery. Images are only carrier, which can be imaginative

and is just like a glass which can be filled with any fluid. Nonexistence can serve as an image so

long as it conforms to aesthetic requirements of the human society as a whole. Emotional

authenticity bears dual meanings. First, different poets can infuse different sentiment or thought to


the same concrete object. Shi Puhua from Qin Dynasty once commented on the three poems

entitled with Cicada written by Yu Shinan, Luo Binwang, and Li Shangyin respectively. He said

that they were what were said by a person in respectable and honorable position, a person trapped

in trials and tribulations, and a person full of complaints and grievances20(Shi Buhua, 1963:974).

The poets can not identify what kind of physical reaction the sound of the cicada in different times

indicates and they needn‟t do that. What they need do is to infuse their thought or sentiment into

the image and they can vary the image according to the changes of their mood. Secondly, the same

poet can infuse different thought or sentiment to the same object in different time and place. Ge

Lifang once commented on two poems both titled with Crying Bird. He said, “Ouyang Xiu first

wrote a poem titled Crying Bird, and the general meaning was that he was relegated to a minor

position because of crafty and hypocritical official‟s slander but he began to like the bird‟s crying

at this very moment. Later he sat in for the exam in the Palace and wrote another Crying Bird. It

seemed to go against the previous one. Maybe it is because that different time people are in

different mood.”21(Ge Lifang:617) (欧阳永叔先在滁阳, 有《啼鸟》一篇, 意谓缘巧舌之人谪官,

而今反爱其声。后考试崇政殿, 又有《啼鸟》一篇, 似反滁阳之咏。⋯ ⋯ 盖心有中外枯菀之

不同, 则对境之际, 悲喜随之尔。啼鸟之声, 夫岂有二哉?) (葛立方《韵语阳秋》)From the

above mentioned two examples, we can see that the emotion authenticity is exactly what Shi

Puhua and Ge Lifang once suggested.

5.4.2 Psychological Authenticity

     Psychological authenticity refers to the authenticity of poet‟s stream of consciousness. The

poet‟s stream of consciousness is in nature the poet‟s inner-world language. It is flowing according

to the psychological time and trend. It often appears to be jumpy, disorderly and unsystematic and

does not conform to logic. The poets try to jot down faithfully this stream of consciousness, which

eventually produces a literary form going against the written language logic. Psychological

authenticity is also one of the fundamental proofs for the verifiability of imagery translation.

Image in Chinese poetics is created by the interaction between intuition and rational cognition and

bears the connotative characteristics. Such an aesthetic value can be only realized by

psychological authenticity. If we try to use physical authenticity or language logic to approach the

               On Testification of Translation of Imagery in Classical Chinese Poetry

connotative meaning imbedded in images, we are sure to get disappointed. A case in point is the

image “orioles singing from thousands of li away”. Someone blamed the poet Du Mu, “how can

the sounds of orioles from thousands of miles away be heard? It had better be changed into

„orioles singing from ten li‟ ” And this critic has been thereafter ridiculed and scoffed by others.

Psychological authenticity further illustrates the feasibility to elucidate the imagery and its poetic


5.4.3 Life Authenticity

     Different from physical authenticity, life authenticity means that some images, be it a

physical existence or an imaginative one, is consistent with the logic of nature and human life.

Emotional authenticity and psychological authenticity reflect aesthetic individuality, while life

authenticity reflects aesthetic universality. As an individual who lives in the society and interacts

with others day after day, the poet can not create images that are fully independent of others‟ value

and measurement of the world and just present the specific emotion or thought at a specific time

and place. It is inevitable for them to have certain cognition of the common rules and principles of

Nature and the society. If we do not approach the image from the perspective of life authenticity,

we may fail to decode the image correctly. A case in point is Take Liu Changqing‟s Seeking

Shelter in Lotus Hill On a Snowy Night (《逢雪宿芙蓉山主人》) . Liu Changqing wrote: “日暮

苍山远, 天寒白屋贫。           ”
           柴门闻犬吠,风雪夜归人。 (The waning day, the distant hills appear green.

Against cold, the white cottage looks drear and mean. A dog is barking behind a firewood gate.

Amidst wind and snow, a night guest arrives late 22 )(Xu Zhongjie, 1990:172) The popular

viewpoint about the aesthetic image in the line “风雪夜归人” holds that “归人” is the owner of

the cottage and the whole line means that in the late night the guest lied in bed to rest when he

suddenly heard the dog barking and someone knocking the door, knowing that the owner came

back against wind and snow. But such an explanation to the image apparently violates and

breaches life logic. As we all know, dogs tell their owners from strangers by their sharp noses.

Then why does the dog bark at the owner not the guest at all? So the viewpoint is obviously

untenable. In fact, the word “gui”(归) bears multivocal meanings, one of which is “run to” or

“hurry to”. The idiom “all the rivers run into (to) the sea”(百川归海) is one of the phrases that


adopt this meaning. And the word “gui” in this poem means running to a cottage to seek a

temporary lodging. The image “dog barking” indicates that there are people living in the cottage

and it is not deserted. “Hearing the dog barking” connotes the passerby‟ excitement and

delightedness when finding out that the cottage was not deserted. In fact, the last line hides the

host‟s question behind the guest‟s answers. The cottage owner opened the door when he heard the

dog barking and asked, and the guest answered, “I am a passerby seeking a lodge amidst wind and

snow.” The whole poem describes a complete process of a person on journey lodging in an

isolated cottage in the mountainous area amidst wind and snow at the sunset, and connotes the

changes of the mood from anxiety to excitement. The whole happening is very common among

people on their journeys in ancient time. From the above example, we can conclude that all images

encoding and decoding are based on the authenticity of its sources and end in sublimation,

internalization and integration while allowing certain aberrancy and digression.
5.5 Image Formation and Delivery Process as A Proof for Verifiability of Imagery
     As we have already discussed, image formation is a complex and complicated process. But

any image formation process contains the following four elements without exception:

    A. Perceptual form which refers to the symbolized objects represented by the specific words

        and phrases, such as “cuckoo” and “the setting sun”.
    B. Poet‟s sentiments and thoughts such as excitement, anxiety, melancholy, loneliness or
    C. Cognitive elements which refers to the rational cognition of emotional experience and

        poetic interest and charm.

    D. Symbolized presentation and distribution.

     During image formation process, poets utilize concrete objects as its raw materials to create

perceptual forms and they then infuse his sentiment or his interest into those forms. During image

reproduction process, the reader revitalizes the perceptual form with the help and assistance of the

lansign, and then experiences personal or universal experience and finally enjoys the aesthetic

pleasure. Image life circle goes through four continuous and sequent stages, interaction between

mind and objects, finalization of the form, delivery and distribution, and the restoration and

revivification of the image. There are three different but interrelated “Image” in this life circle,

namely the image in poet‟s mind during interaction between mind and objects, the image in the

              On Testification of Translation of Imagery in Classical Chinese Poetry

text when symbolized by language, and the image in reader‟s mind when decoded and reproduced

by readers. Among the three different images, the image in the text is the core of the poetic

imagery and hold utmost importance because it is the concrete existence of poet‟s spiritual image.

Luo Rendi and Pan Luli concluded according to relevance theory that the function of the language

during information delivery and distribution process is to restrict audiences or readers‟ deduction

and speculation23(Luo Rendi&Pan Luli, 2002:203-209). The presentation of the image is part of

the semantics and therefore, if we apply the theory to the decoding of the image, we can also

conclude that language generates both instructions and restrictions to image decoding. Different

images result in different language form. Similarly different language form reflects different

images. The image in poet‟s mind is not something invisible and untouchable. It is just the poet‟s

subjective sentiment and thoughts and the way he presents them that make the existence of the

image in the text possible and restrict the image decoding by the reader. The dual coding theory

proposed by Paivio(1965) provide a psychological basis for further analysis of image coding. The

theory assumes that there are two cognitive subsystems, one specialized for the representation and

processing of nonverbal objects/events (i.e., imagery), and the other specialized for dealing with

language. Paivio also postulates two different types of representational units: "imagens" for mental

images and "logogens" for verbal entities which he describes as being similar to "chunks" as

described by Miller. Logogens are organized in terms of associations and hierarchies while

imagens are organized in terms of part-whole relationships. Dual Coding theory identified three

types of processing: (1) representational, the direct activation of verbal or non-verbal

representations, (2) referential, the activation of the verbal system by the nonverbal system or

vice-versa, and (3) associative processing, the activation of representations within the same verbal

or nonverbal system. A given task may require any or all of the three kinds of processing24(Paivio,



     From the above flow chart, we can see that imagens and logogens can be converted into each

other because of their referential connections. Therefore, although the poet‟s creating process and

his intention can not reappear, the poet‟s sentiment or thoughts at that time can be presented with

images that the readers can recognize through their perception and association thanks to the

sameness of its literary meaning. On top of that, the generality of human beings‟ way of

experience and observance makes the two-way communication and conversion possible. The

image encoding and decoding process provides a convincing proof for the verifiability of imagery

in Chinese classical poetry.

     The discussion of image encoding and decoding mechanism testified the possibility and

feasibility of the cognition and comprehension of imagery. But how do we approach images in

Chinese classical poetry? In what kind of ways or forms do those images exist? What are the

features of those images?

6. Approaching Imagery from Different Perspectives-Classification of

6.1 Image in Broad Sense and Image in Narrow Sense
     Image in broad sense refers to the general image created by the whole poem. This general

image can be presented with visible form, or hidden behind the poet‟s inner emotion. It can

demonstrate the connotation of the poem as a whole as well as connotation initiated and associated

by certain single image represented by certain words. Take the following poem as an example:




      Dancing/Wide sleeves sway,/Scents,/Sweet scents/Incessant coming.

              On Testification of Translation of Imagery in Classical Chinese Poetry

      It is red lilies,/Lotus lilies,/Floating up,/And up,/Out of autumn mist.

      Thin clouds,/Puffed,/Fluttered,/Blown on a rippling wind/ Through a mountain pass.

      Young willow shoots/Touching/Brushing/The water/ Of the garden pool.25(Zhang Baohong,


     The image in broad sense of this poem is dance and pas. The above quoted translation version

by American Imagism Poet Amy Lowell seized the power of this dance image. The poet

symbolized the dance music with stanza, demonstrated the meter of the dance by breaking the

poem into different lines, and utilized the length of the line to indicate the size and speed. This

disposition has created an vivid atmosphere for the readers to understand and appreciate the

connotation of the poem.

     Image in narrow sense refers to the single and specific images in poetry, such as “wide

sleeves”, “red lilies”, “thin clouds”, and “young willow” in the above quoted poem. These separate

and specific images combined to form the line, stanza, and a complete poem. They have their

independent functions in the poem, but at the same time they are unified into the general

atmosphere of the whole poem. In translation practice, only by giving due consideration to the

specific connotation and features of these specific images, can we avoid isolating them from the

whole poem, can we find out the origin and source of the image in the whole poem, and can we

keep their vigorous and vivacious life and artistic strength. Look at the following poem:

     唐 韦庄的《台城》:



     Willows drift in the winds of taicheng

     Like clouds of undulant smoke

     They cover the ten-mile levee

     As imperturbable as ever.——translated by Wang Shouyi & John Knoepfle26( Wang Shouyi

& John Knoepfle, 1989:32)

     The last line in this poem indicates the lapse of the corrupted world and recurrence of the

history. Willows in Tai Cheng and clouds of undulant smoke are separate and specific images,

linking up the past glory and the present desolation. Through the method of cacophony, the poet

wrote all his grievance and worry out. The translation dealt with the specific images successfully


and echoed with the theme of the whole poem.

     In conclusion, the formation and artistic strength of the image in broad sense rely on the

supplement, promotion and reinforcement of the image in narrow sense, while the poetic functions

of the image in narrow sense are guided and restricted by image in broad sense. An analysis of the

features of and interactive relationship between the two are very vital in the translation practice.
6.2 Dynamic Image and Static Image
     Static image refers to the depiction of the static scene. Grammatically speaking, they are

produced mainly by nouns and adjectives. Images created by nominal phrases often bear rich and

abundant connotations. For example, in the line “江枫渔火对愁眠” (Dimly-lit fishing boats

beneath maples sadly lie.)(Zhang Baohong, 1994:22), the image maples literally means the maples

beside the river bank, and it is also the symbol of the autumn. More than that, it can also refer to

the associative and historical pondering inducing people‟s feelings and thoughts towards the

autumn. It is because of the “historical atmosphere” of the image “maple” that make the word

“maple” not a isolated objective independent of the reality, but an image rich in connotations due

to the infusion and incorporation of the subjective sentiment or thoughts into it.

     Dynamic images refer to the depiction of dynamic scene in the poem. A poem may not

contain many dynamic images. But such dynamic images often make the touch that brings the

whole poem to life, which ancient literary critics called “the eyes of the poem”. For example, in

the following lines, “红杏枝头春意闹” (Red apricot blossoms along the branch, spring feelings

stir) From Song Qi's ci to the tune of “Yu Lou Chun”(宋祁) and “云破月来花弄影”(As the

moon breaks through the clouds, flowers play with their shadows)From Zhang Xian's ci to the

tune of “Tian Xian Zi”.(张先)the words “闹” and “弄” are dynamic images. Just like the

acknowledged scholar Wang Guowei said, “it is because of the single word „闹‟that the ideorealm

of the poem is born.”27(Zhang Baohong, 2003:30)
6.3 Image According to Different Sensuous Functions
     According to different sensuous functions, images can be categorized into nine groups,

namely, visual images, auditory images, gustatory images, olfactory images, tactile images, Kin

aesthetic images, transferred epithet images, illusory images, and abstract images. Take Li He‟s

poem as an example: 吴丝蜀桐张高秋, 空山凝云颓不流。湘娥啼竹素女悲, 李凭中国弹箜篌。

昆山玉碎凤凰叫, 芙蓉泣露香兰笑。十二门前融冷光, 二十三弦动紫皇。女娲炼石补天处, 石

              On Testification of Translation of Imagery in Classical Chinese Poetry

破天惊逗秋雨。梦入神山教神妪, 老鱼跳波瘦蛟舞。吴质不眠倚桂树, 露脚斜飞湿寒兔。 “吴

丝蜀桐”and “空山凝云” are visual images, “昆山玉碎凤凰叫, 芙蓉泣露香兰笑” are auditory

images, “融冷光” and “湿寒兔” are images, “香兰” is olfactory image, and “老鱼跳波瘦蛟舞” is

kin aesthetic image28.(Chen Zhi‟e, 1990:130) Through these novel and refreshing images, the poet

presented vividly the constantly changing music rhythms, and exalted the superb and excellent

harp skills of Li Ping (harp, an ancient plucked stringed instrument) Virtually very poem will

make use of at least one of these images to present a certain concept or idea.

6.3.1 Visual Images

     As its name suggests, visual images are the visualization of the objects depicted in order to

make the objects more perspicuous and perceivable. Chinese poetry is rich in visual images. A

visual image in Chinese classical poetry will always do more than simply provide a physical

description. For instance,

     千山鸟飞绝,                           From hill to hill no bird in flight;

     万径人踪灭。                           From path to path no man in sight.

     孤舟蓑笠翁,                           A straw-cloak‟s man in a boat, lo!

     独钓寒江雪。                           Fishing on river clad in snow.

     ——柳宗元:江雪                         ——Liu Zongyuan(773-819): Fishing in Snow

                                      —Translated by Xu Yuanchong29(Xu Yuanchong, 1994:278)

     In the last two lines of the poem, the images “lonely boat”, “straw-cloaked old man”, “cold

water” and “snow” all contribute to a vivid picture of fishing in snow. All these images bring the

readers to the very scene to experience personally. The poet‟s loneliness and unyieldingness

hidden behind the images are reflected by the images. During translation process, the translator

should trace the poet‟s thoughts with the clues that the images provide and reproduce the image in

a way that keeps the original aesthetic interest. Another example from Wangwei‟s To the Frontier

as an Envoy

     大漠孤烟直,                        Straight is the lonely line of smoke above the desert vast,

     长河落日圆.                        And round, the sun that sets upon the long river.
     —王维: 使至塞上                     —Wang Wei(701-761): To the Frontier as an Envoy
                                   —translated by Bruce M.Wilson and Zhang Tingzhen30( Bruce


                                      M.Wilson &Zhang Tingzhen, 1990:54)

6.3.2 Auditory Images

     Auditory images are images that can be perceived by our auditory organs. They are less

common than visual imagery, which abounds in Chinese classical poetry, yet plays an active role

in creating the special aesthetic effect. In Du Fu‟s poem, Song of the War Chariots,

     车辚辚,马萧萧,                     Chariots rumble, horses neigh,

     行人弓箭各在腰。                     As they who must depart strap on their weapons.

     The auditory images of “rumbling chariots” and “neighing horses” are vividly depicting the

chaos before the war. The readers may get a smell of the dust kicked up by chariots and horses.

Again in Bai Juyi‟s Song of Pipa
     大弦嘈嘈如急雨,                                         Loud as drumming rain,

     小弦切切如私语.                                         Soft as whispered secrets,

     嘈嘈窃窃错杂弹,                                         Pearls of varied sizes

     大珠小珠落玉盘.                                         Cascaded on a tray of jade.

     —白居易: 琵琶行                                        —Bai Juyi(772-846): Song of the Pipa

     The auditory images here are used to describe the sound played on Pipa, a traditional Chinese

musical instrument. The sound sometimes is as loud as drumming rain, sometimes as soft as

whispering. The vivid auditory image is “pearls cascaded on a tray of jade”, big pearls make loud

sound and small ones make soft sound. “It would be difficult to describe abstract music in words,

but Bai Juyi compares it in turn to a pattering rain, to pearls dropping on a plate of jade,… so that

you can not only hear it but sometimes even see it before your eyes.”31(Xu Yuanchong, 1997:312)

6.3.3 Gustatory Images

     Gustatory images are images that have an impact on readers‟ sense of taste. This kind of

images is not so commonly made use of by the poets. We can find an example in Bai Juyi‟s poem,

The Song of Pipa.

     住近湓江地低湿,                       I live by the River Pen, in a low, damp place,

     黄栌苦竹绕宅生。                       Surrounded by yellow reeds and bitter bamboo.

              On Testification of Translation of Imagery in Classical Chinese Poetry

     ——白居易:琵琶行                      ——Bai Juyi: Song of the Pipa

     The image of “bitter bamboo” is the gustatory images. Actually bamboo can‟t taste. It is the

poet and the reader who can have a “bitter taste”.

6.3.4 Olfactory Images

     Olfactory images act on reader‟s sense of smell. Readers can perceive the smell between the

lines. Such an image can be found in the following poem:

     山前有熟稻,                        Before the mountain there are purple ears of rice,

     紫穗袭人香。                        Whose fragrance far and wide assails the nostrils.

     ——皮日休: 橡妪叹                    ——Pi Rixiu: Lament for the Women Gathering Acorns

     Here “fragrance of rice” is an olfactory image which presented the maturity and quality of the

rice more vividly and more perspicuously.

6.3.5 Tactile Images

     This form of images appeals to our sense of touch. It attempts to communicate the sensation

of physically feeling something. For instance,

     饮马渡秋水,                    I water my horse while crossing the autumn river,

     水寒风似刀。                    The water is cold and the wind like a sword piercing.

     ——王昌龄:塞上曲                 ——Wang Changling: A Frontier Song

                                    ——Translated by Tao Jie

     In these two lines, the poet describes the bitterness and nippiness of the wind with a simile,

which works great effect on our sense of touch and eventually contributes to our perception of

how chilly and biting the autumn water is.

6.3.6 Kinaesthetic Images

     Kinaesthetic images help to present to the readers a motional picture, which can breathe new

life into originally static scenery. Wang Wei‟s An Autumn Evening in My Mountain Abode, long

acknowledged as a master of poetry of nature, is quoted here:

     明月松间照,                        The bright moon is shining through the pines,


    清泉石上流。                          The clear stream flowing over the stones.

    竹喧归浣女,                          Bamboo rustle, as washing maids return,

    莲动下鱼舟。                          Lotuses stir, a fishing boat descends.

    ——王维:山居秋瞑                   ——Wang Wei: An Autumn Evening in My Mountain Abode

    In this poem, the verbs “shine”, “flow”, “rustle” and “stir” are used to describe “moonlight”,

“stream”, “bamboo” and “lotus” respectively which constitute a dynamic picture. The motionless

“moonlight” are endowed with life.

6.3.7 Transferred Epithet Images

      Transferred epithet images refer to the images that intentionally transfer from one sense to

another. Its aberrant way of approaching things aims to create a unique and special effect to allow

the readers to give their imagination and association in full play in order to gain as much as

aesthetic experience. For instance, the poets often choose the word “frost”, “water” and “moon”.

They aim to create tactile images as well as visual images. Wu Wenying‟s poem is quoted here to

strengthen the case.

    门隔花深梦旧游,                 Gateway deep in the flowers Gateway to a dream in a dream.

    夕阳无语燕归愁,                 There, beneath the setting sun‟s silent stare, the swallows that have

                             found that their way back look doleful

    玉纤香动小帘钩。                 The curtain is down; its hook yet quivering with remembrance of a

                             perfumed hand‟s tend touch

    落絮无声春堕泪,                 Quiet falls the floss of willows weeping over spring‟s departure.

    行云有影月含羞,                 Slowly pass the shadows of kindly clouds Veiling a bashful moon,


    东风临夜冷于秋。               The east wind tonight is chill as an autumn blast more so, how so?32(Xi

                           Linhua, 2001: 38)

     In this poem, the poet made use of transferred epithet images several times. He depicted the

“sun” by “silent”, and described the “the fall of the floss of willows” by “quiet”, which

transferred from visual effect to auditory effect and thus achieved an impressive images

perspicuous for readers to understand.

              On Testification of Translation of Imagery in Classical Chinese Poetry

6.3.8 Illusionary Images

    Illusionary images are produced by intentional distortion or digression of concrete objects.

Take Li He‟s Song of the Bronze Statue for example,

    茂陵刘郎秋风客,Gone that empeor of Maoling, Rider through the autumn wind,

    夜闻马嘶晓无迹。Whose horse neighs at night and has passed without trace by dawn.

    画栏桂树悬秋香,The fragrance of autumn lingers still on those cassia trees by painted


    三十六宫土花碧。But on every palace hall the green moss grows.

    魏官牵牛指千里,As Wei‟s envoy sets out to drive a thousand li

    东关酸风射眸子。The keen wind at the East Gate stings the statue‟s eyes

    空将汉月出宫门,From the ruined palace he brings nothing forth but the moon-shaped disc

                             of Han.

    忆君清泪如铅水。True to his lord, he sheds leaden tears.

    衰兰送客咸阳道,And withered orchids by the Xiangyang Road see the traveler on his way.

    天若有情天亦老。Ah, if Heaven had a feeling heart, it too must grow old! He bears the disc

                             off alone

    携盘独出月荒凉,By the light of a desolate moon,

    渭城已远波声小。The town far behind him, muted its lapping waves.(Chen Zhi‟e,1990: 129)

     The image of “leaden tears” is illusionary image. The bronze statue can shed tears, and the

tears can not be lead made. All this are created by poet‟s illusion.

6.3.9 Abstract Images

    Abstract images refer to those of one‟s mental state, such as the state of “sorrow”, “anger”,

“depression” etc. which often occur in Chinese poems. For example,

    日暮相关何处是,                        The sun is setting, but what can I call home?

    烟波江上使人愁。                        The river‟s mists and billows make my heart forlorn.

    ——崔颢:黄鹤楼                           ——Cui Hao: Yellow Crane Tower

    Here “forlorn” is the abstract image.


6.4 Image According to Different Figures of Speech
     Ancient Chinese poets often use language that is rich in the sense to leave much open to the

readers‟ imagination, giving readers full play in interpreting and involving the readers in the

activities that make the poem eternal and immortal. Figurative language is one of the techniques

frequently utilized by poets. This dissertation mainly expands on eight kinds of figures of speech.

6.4.1 Simile

     A simile is a figure of speech which makes a comparison between two unlike elements with

at least one quality or characteristic in common, often in a phrase introduced by functional words

such as like or as. Here is an example::

     巴水急如箭,               The river fast like arrow flows;

     巴船去若飞。               Your boat as if on wings swift goes.

                          Translated by Xu Yuanchong

     The simile is strikingly sharp, vivid and to the point, and it helps produce powerful effects

and strong association.

6.4.2 Metaphor

     Metaphor is a figure of speech in which a word or phrase that ordinarily designates one thing

is used to designate another, thus making an implicit comparison. For example,

     床前明月光,               Abed, I see a silver light,

     疑是地上霜。               I wonder if it‟s frost aground.

     李白:静夜思 -Li Bai: A Tranquil Night:

                      -Translated by Xu Yuanchong

     A metaphor is in a sense a condensed simile with varied form and artistry. And it requires

greater efforts to perceive and produce the hidden association. In Xu‟s translation, he kept the

figurative form and the subtlety is duplicated as the original.

6.4.3 Metonymy

     Metonymy is a figure of speech in which the tenor is substituted for another with which it is

              On Testification of Translation of Imagery in Classical Chinese Poetry

closely associated. In other words, it involves a change of name, the substituted name indicating

the thing meant. For example, container of wine like “杯”, “樽”, and “壶” often stand for wine and

therefore imply the act of drinking. It is well used in the following lines:

          举杯消愁愁更愁                  Drink wine to drown you sorrow, it will heavier grow.

          举杯邀明月                    I raised my cup to invite the Moon.

Metonymy is an effective rhetoric device to compress rich connotations into a single word or short

phrase. In translation we can either restore the original meaning or give the substituted name

directly as the above examples illustrate.

6.4.4 Personification

     Personification is another figure of speech that poets employ freely. When you bring breath

and blood to non-human things or invest animals with human characteristics or emotions, you

personify them. The following poem reads:

      蜡烛有心还惜别, Even the candle, feeling our sadness,

      替人垂泪到天明。 Weeps, as we do, all night long.

      ――杜牧:赠别               -Du Mu(803-852): Farewell

                            -Translated by Bynner

      By endowing candle with human emotions, the poet brings a more vivid and lifelike picture

to the readers and makes the feelings and sentiment more perceivable and acceptable.

6.4.5 Hyperbole

     Hyperbole is a figure of speech in which exaggeration is used for emphasis or effect without

intending to be literally true. One of the great examples of hyperbole can be found in one of Li

Bai‟s poems quoted here.

      蜀道之难,                The road to Shu is more difficult to climb

      难于上青天。               Than to climb the steep blue heaven.

      -李白:蜀道难 -Li Bai: Hard Is the Road to Shu

                           -Translated by S.Obata

     The poet highlights the difficulty in climbing the road to Shu by exaggeration.


6.4.6 Puns

     Pun is a play on words, sometimes on different senses of the same word and sometimes on

the similar sense or sound of different words.

     东边日出西边雨,The sun comes out in the east, it rains in the west;

     道是无情却有情。You‟ll say it‟s not sunny(love), yet it is.

      —刘禹锡: 竹枝词 —Liu Yuxi(772-842): Zhu Zhi Ci

                              — Translated by J. Y. Liu

     The pun is on “sunny” and “love” because in Chinese they are both pronounced “ch‟ing”.

Moreover the image of fitful sunshine is borrowed to mean the fickle love33. (J.Y. Liu, 1962:111)

In J. Y. Liu‟s translation version, though he has pointed out the meaning by annotation, the

rhetorical beauty has faded away due to the absence of the pun, so the writer of this paper put it as

follows: The west is veiled in rain while the east basks in sunshine, he is the sunshine in my heart

be it raining hard or fine.

6.4.7 Allusion

     Allusions are brief references to a person, place, thing, event, or idea in history or literature.

They imply reading and cultural experiences shared by the writer and reader, functioning as a kind

of shorthand whereby the recalling of something outside the work supplies an emotional or

intellectual context.

    天阶夜色凉如水,                  The steps seem steeped in water when cold grows the night;

    卧看牵牛织女星。                  She lies watching heart-broken stars shed tears in the skies.

    -杜牧:秋夕                    -Du Mu: An Autumn Night

                              -Translated by Bruce M. Wilson and Zhang Ting-zhen

     “牵牛”and “织女”are two persons in ancient Chinese fairy tales. They were in deep love

with each other, but were separated by the Milky Way in the heaven, and only allowed to meet in

the seventh night of July every lunar year. Here the poet alludes to the legend to achieve a stronger

force of an image and gives a clearer scene of a sorrowful lady longing for her love.

               On Testification of Translation of Imagery in Classical Chinese Poetry

6.4.8 Symbol

     Symbol is the most important device poets often utilize to extend meaning in Chinese

classical poetry. Poets use symbols to represent or hint some abstract concepts or feelings such as

honesty, bravery and integrity, etc. which are always difficult to express without being hollow or

boring, thus symbols are used by employing vivid images. Chinese classical poetry abounds in

symbols. Some symbols possess certain qualities the same as the objects chosen. For example, the

pine tree is regarded as a symbol of moral fortitude because it withstands rough cold weather.

Some owe their origin to ancient customs, such as willow for parting, or due to legends, such as

cuckoo for unhappy love. A concrete case is followed:

     满地黄花堆积,                  All over the ground are heaps of yellow flowers:

     憔悴损,                     Ravaged, haggard, worn.

     如今有谁堪摘?                  Who will pluck them now? (Meng Li, 2002: 20)

     In the above quoted lines, the flower is used to symbolize wasted youth and faded beauty.

7. The Combination of Imagery
     Chinese poems are noted for their compact and condensed images. Sometimes a poem may

present only one image arousing a particular sentiment of the readers. For example in Wang Wei‟s

“love seeds”, the poet employs only one image of red berries to express love-sickness. However,

most of the cases, a poem is composed of a number of images. Due to its linguistic uniqueness,

Chinese poetry makes it possible that a line may consist of a sequence of images. Such images are

not merely pictures in words, they arouse emotional associations and enrich their poetic context.

These images are combined in different ways and patterns to create different effects. This

dissertation concentrates on four categories of combination of images, namely juxtaposition,

superposition, interassemblage, and radiation.
7.1 Juxtaposition
     Juxtaposition is to combine the related images in the forms of parallelism, comparison or

contrast, etc. The clearer syntactic structure and description in detail could effectively present the

poet‟s intent and produce a distinct mental picture34. (Zhu Hui, 1996:22) Juxtaposition can be

further categorized into two subcatagories.


7.1.1 Juxtaposition Within the Same Line

     Juxtaposition within the same line means that the two or more images happen instantaneously

and form a strong contrast or impressive comparison. For example, Du Mu‟s Passing By Huaqing

Palace: At the sight of clouds of dust coming near, that post-riders will soon arrive is clear. The

King‟s concubine at once a sweet smile release. Who would know: this is caused by the coming

lichees? (一骑红尘妃子笑,无人知是荔枝来)(Chen Zhi‟e, 1990:78)The image “一骑红尘” and

“妃子笑” are assembled to form a strong contrast, thus reveals clearly the extravagance and

corruption of the ruling class.

7.1.2 Juxtaposition Within the Couplet

     Juxtaposition within the couplet means that the images are distributed into the two lines.

Chinese classical poetry abounds in such combination of images due to its pursuit of symmetry

and orderliness. For example, in Du Fu‟s An ascent, it reads: “无边落木萧萧下,不尽长江滚滚

来。”(Chen Zhi‟e, 1990:79)(For miles around, rustling leaves are falling without pause. The

Yangtze River is tumbling on in its onward course.) The two lines contain the image of “rustling

leaves” and the image of “the Yangtze River ” respectively. Through the combination of these two

images, the late autumn atmosphere is more conspicuous.
7.2 Superposition
     Superposition refers to the combination of images in different time or different place or both.

Thus it can be divided into three subcategories.

7.2.1 Images in Different Time and Different Place

     As its name suggest, this form of combination combines two image from different place and

in different time together, making the images sharply contrasted and harmoniously integrated.

In Li Yi‟s Night upon the City Walls, it writes: The sand before Huile Peak looked like snow.

Moonlight outside Shouxiang town more like frost.

               On Testification of Translation of Imagery in Classical Chinese Poetry

7.2.2 Images in Same Time but Different Place

     This form of combination is to assemble the two images in the same place but different times

together. In Wang Bo‟s Sending Off Magistrate Du upon His Appointment to Sichuan, it reads:

The city of Chang‟an guards the kingdom of Qin, into the distance of misty crossings I‟m looking.

“城阙”refers to Chang‟an, and “五津”refers to the long distance to Sichuan. The former is the

place where the poet sent off his friend, and the latter is the place of his appointment.

7.2.3 Images in Different Time but Same Place

     This form of combination is to assemble the images in different time but in the same place. A

famous poem Mounting the Youzhou Rostrum by Chen Zi‟ang is quoted here to illustrate that: Ere

me I see not the ancients, Behind me I perceive not the descendants.
7.3 Interassemblage
     Interassemblage is combination form in which images are interwoven and interrelated with

each other due to Chinese classical poetry‟s pursuit of brevity and condensation. It allows the poet

to express more meaning with few words. In a famous poem Going Out of the Frontier Pass on the

Great Wall by Wang Changling, it writes: The moon of Qin Dynasty still shines over the mountain

pass of the Han dynasty. “秦时明月汉时关”Literally, the moon and the pass belong respectively

to the Qin Dynasty and Han Dynasty, but connotatively speaking, the moon and pass both belong

to Qin and Han.
7.4 Radiation
     According to Yan Yunshou, radiation means that the images are grouped together to create a

central image35(Yan Yunshou,2004:326). In classical Chinese poetry, there are a lot of poems

devoted to chanting a certain object, usually plants. Sometimes this object is not mentioned in the

poem. It is the description of other objects that gives rise to this object. In view of this relation, the

translator shall examine the function of every image in this group. Improper deletion or adaptation

of the images in this group may fail to reproduce the central image. In Du Fu‟s A Welcome Rain

One Spring Night, it reads: A good rain knows its season and comes when spring is here; On the

heels of the wind it slips secretly into the night, Silent and soft, it moistens everything. Now

clouds hang black above the country roads, A lone boat on the river sheds a glimmer of light; At


dawn we shall see splashes of rain-washed red, Drenched, heavy blooms in the City of Brocade.


湿处,花重锦官城) (Chen Zhi‟e, 1990:87)In this poem, the spring rain is the central and all the

other images are grouped around it. This combination of images creates a multi-layer beauty.

     Up to now, this thesis has discussed the verifiability of images in Chinese classical poetry

from the perspectives of its origin and source, readers‟ cognition towards it, and its way of

existence, and all these analysis have laid a solid foundation for the further analysis of the

testifiability of the image rendition.

8. The Artistic Features of Imagery
8.1 Images as Subjective analogical creation
     Subjective analogical creation means that the poet‟s subjective intention or sensation is

usually mixed into the image during the creation process. In Han Feizi, there is such a saying,

“People can rarely see the elephant alive, and when they happened to find the bones of the dead

elephant, they would imagine the appearance and the look of the elephant according the bones.

Therefore later people call all the imaginative things „xiang‟. And now though Tao is invisible and

inaudible, the sage can still envision its image according to its function.” (人希见生象也,而得死

象之骨,案其图以想其生也。故诸人之所以意想者,皆谓之象也) 《韩非子》
                              (    )The above quoted

lines point out the two aspects of people‟s cognitive activity. On the one hand people‟s subjective

image is always the reflection of objective matters, and on the other hand, people‟s reproduction

and recognition of the objective matters are always accompanied by the imaginative elements.

This point can find its support from Aesthetics: Lectures On Fine Art. According to Hegel,

perceptual images in art are refined by heart, and things in mind or heart are represented by

perceptual images 36 (Chen Zhi‟e, 1990:148). The refinery is actually achieved by subjective

imagination and association, and the perceptualization is to endow the sentiment or thoughts with

concrete form. As the extremity of the subjective analogical creation, the original source that the

poets make use of to create image can be a nonexistence such as the roc under the pen of Li Bai,

and phoenix and kylin at Du Fu‟s pen point. This phenomenon can be explained by εποχη(悬搁)

theory. The theory suggests that it is not the authenticity of the objects of artistic depiction matters,

and what really matters is whether the objects is convincing or not. Another evidence for

subjective analogical creation is the psychological distance theory in literary critics. It justifies the

              On Testification of Translation of Imagery in Classical Chinese Poetry

inconsistency between the original physical existence and the artistic existence in conceptual

world. And it is worth mentioning that these aberrant images not conforming to the life logic can

be more impressive and more connotative.
8.2 Formularization
     Formularization means that certain words or phrases can express a fixed concept with the

passage of time. It is the same as Albert·B·Lord‟s Formulaic Theory. According to this theory, the

stock phrase formula and type-scene can be used to depict or describe the events beyond their

literal meanings. For example, in European epic, the ferocious birds and violent beast will show

up during depicting the bloody and cruel war. Chinese classical poetry is also rich in such stock

phrase formula. For example, Wild goose, chrysanthemum, bamboo, plum, and orchid are all fixed

to represent certain connotation. Qian Guanlian, a noted professor and scholar also points out that

human beings live in the world of language, and we must live in it, and above all we must live in

the world of formulaic language. This show the impact and effect of the historical tradition on the

building of human beings‟ aesthetic interests.
8.3 Ambiguity
     Ambiguity means that the same image allows various interpretations. The ambiguity reflects

the participation of subjectivity during both creation and appreciation process and the openness of

image system. For example, in Wang Zhihuan‟s “春风不度玉门关”, the image of spring breeze

bears three meanings. In the first place, it literally means spring breeze, and the whole sentence

describes the desolation of the Yumen pass. Secondly, it refers to the emperor‟s kindness, and the

whole sentence means that the soldiers garrisoning the frontier were not attended by anybody.

Third, it can refer to warmness of family love, and the whole sentence thus can reveal the

grievance and pain of being separated from their family. Ambiguity provides the readers with a

great potential of approaching the aesthetic value of the images from multiple perspectives. Here it

is worth pinpointing that the ambiguity of images is not conflicting with the verifiability of

imagery translation. Ambiguity suggests that there are multiple approach to decode images, and it

provide a clue and present a new norm and requirement for image rendition, that is, to keep this

ambiguity in translation.

9. The Translatability of Imagery in Classical Chinese Poetry
     Image in classical Chinese poetry is a world full of charms, replete with emotions, and rich in


profoundness, thus the most important aesthetic unit possessing most cultural specialty. Can such

images be translated into another language? Robert Frost once said: Poetry is what gets lost in

translation. Catford, J.C said, “Translation fails-or untranslatability occurs-when it is impossible to

build functionally relevant features of the situation into the contextual meaning of the TL text.

Broadly speaking, the cases where this happens fall into two categories. Those where the difficulty

is linguistic, and those where it is cultural.”37(Catford, J. C, 1965:94) It must be admitted that

hindrance and barriers exist in virtually every intercultural translation, and it is specially the case

with the translation and rendition of the Chinese classical poetry. Then shall we leave the Chinese

poetry untouched and keep it from western readers? Obviously, the only answer to these questions

is negative. Bassnett once said: Though a poem can not be transfused from one language to

another, it can nevertheless be transplanted. The seed can be placed in new soil, for a new plant to

develop. Poetry is not what is lost in translation,it is rather what we gain through translation and

translators38( Bassnett, Susan & Andre Lefevere,2001:58-74). Although, we have to admit that the

question of how to translate out the essence or the soul of the classical Chinese poetry while

keeping its musical beauty and form is still opening for answers, domestic translators and

Sinologists from abroad have never stopped working on that, especially since 20th century. The

previous discussion has already prove the verifiability of the images in classical Chinese poetry,

which lays a solid foundation for the verifiability of image translation. As one of the aspects of the

verifiability of image translation, the translatability of images is the fundamental question that we

need to analyze and prove.
9.1 The Homology of the Signifier and the Isomorphs of Semantic System
     Although people who speak different languages may have different ways to observe and

understand objective matter or physical entity, but the objects are the same. The homology of the

source or the signifier can make people form a general but basically same conceptual framework,

in other words, semantic system and it is call Isomorphs in epistemology39(Liu Biqing,1999:99).

Isomorphs provide a platform or channel for message transferring between minds of different

thinking mode. Nida once pointed out that rather than being impressed by the impossibilities of

translation, anyone who is involved in the realities of translation in broad range of language is

impressed that effective interlingual communication is always possible, despite seemingly

enormous differences in linguistic structures and cultural features. These impressions as to the

              On Testification of Translation of Imagery in Classical Chinese Poetry

relative adequacy of interlingual communication are based on two fundamental factors: (1)

semantic similarities between languages, due no doubt in large measure to the common core of

human experience; and (2) fundamental similarities in the syntactic structures of languages at the
so-called kernel, core, and level.        (Eugene A. Nida, 1975:98) Isomorphs are the most important

evidence and proof for translatability of images in classical Chinese poetry. The mechanism where

the Isomorphs works its magic to generate translatability can be illustrated in the following flow


     Conceptual System SL                                         Conceptual System TL

                                            Exterior World

     SL information system                                        TL information system

     Languages as the carrier of the thoughts vary in syntactic structures. But the differences

present a characteristic of regularity. Through the analysis of the grammars of different languages,

we are able to find the transmission channels and approach for interlingual conversion. For

example, through the adaptation of the word order and variation of part of speech of the words, we

can find the correlative equivalence at the grammatical level, and further through the adjustment

and variation of the meaning, we can obtain the semantic equivalence. On top of that, we can still

adjust the sentence pattern to achieve the consistency in text style.
9.2 Cultural Interaction and Permeation
     Different cultures interact with each other and permeate into each other in terms of aesthetic

values and linguistic features. With the development of the human society and human civilization,

cultural contact has been gradually strengthened and deepened with the result that the languages

also develop simultaneously. The assimilation between different languages often occurs and with

more and more absorption from each other, the degree of translatability will be raised.

Foreignization can broaden the similarity of the different languages. This is why many scholars

support that the original image should be kept in the translation. Peter Newmark said: “Whilst I

think that all images have universal, cultural and personal sources, the translator of poetry can not

make any concession to the reader such as transferring the foreign culture to a native equivalent. If


autumn in China is the season not of Keat‟s mist and mellow fruitfulness but of high clear skies

and transparent waters, and the sound of the clothes laundered for the cold weather pounded on the

washing blocks, then the reader must simply accept this background and, if he wants to feel it,

repeated reading is more likely to make it his possession than are detailed background, explanation,
of allusions and so on”     (Peter Newmark,2001:164)

10. The Ultimacy of Testification of Imagery Translation—Norms

and Strategies for Imagery Translation
10.1 Norms for Imagery Translation
     Up to now, the verifiability of image and translatability of image have been discussed from

linguistic and cultural perspectives. The non-testification characteristic of the images in classical

Chinese poetry suggested by traditional poetics is untenable. From chapter1 to chapter8 we can

see clearly that all the images have their identifiable origins and sources. Then what kind of norms

should the translators abide by during imagery translation? What requirements should the

translators meet during translation process and how?

     As regards to translation of images in the classical Chinese poetry, the originality of the

images in the poem should kept as much as possible. The translators can and must return to the

original text, identify the source and origin of the images and keep the originality in the translation.

The theme of the poem, the choice and combination of images, the poet‟s artistic skills, style,

temperament, etc. are all embodied in the original poem. As both the reader and the rewriter, the

translator should constantly look to the original poem. As the reader, the translator should be

concerned with explaining what he believes the poet meant by the words in the poem. To do so,

the translator should have adequate command of the source language and cultural background of

the original poem, and try his utmost effort to grasp the meanings of images which historical and

cultural significance and demonstrate the clashes and discrepancies between two heterogeneous

cultures. As the rewriter, the translator should represent the world embodied in the images of the

original poem by taking into account the question that to what degree the “otherness” of the

original one will be adapted to cater the interpretative space of the target readers. While certain

adaptation and adjustment are necessary, they can never be abused and should strictly follow the

intention of the original poem. Literal translation should be the priority if both objective

              On Testification of Translation of Imagery in Classical Chinese Poetry

phenomena and the implied meaning of the images can be preserved by using it. If preserving the

images can lead to misunderstanding or entail considerable processing efforts, the conveying the

connotative meaning should be prioritized and substitution of images should be adopted.
10.2 Strategies for Imagery Translation
     The analysis of verifiability of image translation can not be made without translation practice.

Feasible translation strategies need bringing forward to justify our suggestion and argumentation.

Different from the traditional poetics‟ cognitive way of non-testification towards images in

classical Chinese poetry, this dissertation establishes the aesthetic judgment of the images on the

epistemology of verifiability, and explores ways to convey effectively and efficiently the historical,

cultural information and personal experience and even the ideorealm of the poetry among TL

readers with the help of different translation theories from home and abroad.

     But we need to notice and realize that image translation is by no means an ideal interlingual

communication, for the image decoding process can not exclude the aesthetic experience of the

translator. The image translation is more an understanding process involving the translator than a

transformation process with grammar, logic, and structure as media. Of course, the understanding

should be based on the original image. The English language established on western logo centrism

and the Chinese language originating from Poetic language of Taoism are featured with apriority

and empiricism respectively , thus bring about different ways of aesthetic judgment: analytical

modal and integrated modal. Ideal translation pursues the equality in information between original

texts and the translation, equivalency in effect and value. But in practice such equality and

equivalency is hard to achieve. Translation can not happen without subjective participation and

just through logic methods. The English language concentrates on the objective signifier while the

Chinese stresses the subjective signifier which determines from the very beginning the gain or loss

of the information. It is worth mentioning that image translation is by no chance a conversion from

signified to signified, from signifier to signifier, or from signified to signifier. The designative

meaning and the connotative or associative meaning is quite different concepts. “Too many

translators assume that a correct reflection of designative meaning is all that is required in

translating. In fact, however, the associative meanings are generally far more important in

convincing readers of the relevance of the content”42 (Nida, 2001:94) Image translation‟s primary

task is to convey the connotative meaning or associative meaning, thus transference of image


sometimes occurs. In order to identify the connotative meaning of the images in classical Chinese

poetry, the semantic difference between English and Chinese imagery need analyzing. After

careful observation of semantic difference, image in Chinese classical poetry might be grouped as


     1. An image in one language is the same as in another;

     2. Same image in both languages but actually refer to different things;

     3. An image in one language is expressed with a different image;

     4. An image in one language does not have a counterpart in the other language.

     According to this categorization and also with the guide of different translation theories, the

author of this dissertation tentatively suggests two tactics for images rendition, namely, preserving

the images, and substituting the images.

10.2.1 Preserving the Images

     As to keeping images in translation James Y. Liu emphasized: “When translating images in

Chinese poetry, I believe the image should be kept whether it is a cliché or an original. A

hackneyed image may not appear as such in translation; on the contrary, it may seem quite original

and striking to the reader who does not know the original language. „Autumn waves‟, a cliché in

Chinese for a woman‟s eyes, appears almost daring, if a little quaint, in English.”43(J. Y. Liu,

1962:115)There are mainly three situations where the tactic of preserving the images should be

adopted. One is that image in the original poem carries no cultural connotations or the same

cultural connotation in both languages that can arouse the TL readers‟ corresponding feelings or

resonance. The second is that the image in the original poem is different from its counterpart in the

target culture but is important for conveyance of poet‟s thought and sentiment. The third is that

image in the original poem is absent in target language culture such as many proper names,

animals and plants with rich cultural connotations.

Example 1:

           花间一壶酒,                  From a pot of wine among the flowers.

           独酌无相亲。                  I drank alone. There was no one with me.

           举杯邀明月,                  Till raising my cup, I asked the bright moon.

               On Testification of Translation of Imagery in Classical Chinese Poetry

         对影成三人。                       To bring me my shadow and make us three. (Tr. Witter Bynner)

     In the above quoted poem, the images of “flowers”, “a pot of wine”, “moon”, and “shadow”

are images that carry the same association, thus should be kept and preserved while translating.

Example 2:

         斗鸭阑干独倚,               Waiting for you the whole day long wears out my eyes;

         碧玉搔头斜坠。               Raising my head, I am glad to hear magpies.

         终日望君君不至, *Magpies were supposed to announce the expected

          举头闻鹊喜。                 arrival. (Zhang Baohong, 1994:26)

     The poem depicts a woman‟s yearning for her lover. In Chinese culture, the image “magpie”

is regarded as the messenger of good news. It is by hearing the magpie‟s chattering that the

woman thinks her lover is coming to visit her. However, the same bird has totally different

connotation in English culture where it is considered as “a chatterbox”. Then should we substitute

the image? The answer is negative in that magpie here is very important to convey the information

of the original poem and in some extent to introduce Chinese culture into another one. Therefore

in translation, a footnote is added to enlarge the readers‟ encyclopedic entry to avoid

misinterpretation or misunderstanding. Preserving the image is achieved by so called annotation.

Professor Wang Dongfeng once commented on this method that it well preserves the original

author‟s artistic motivation and aesthetic value of the original text; it also helps the readers fill the

semantic gap and find the relevant information to establish textual coherence44(Wang Dongfeng,

2000: 234-255). The author of this dissertation suggests another advantage, that is, to enrich the

culture by absorbing extra-culture.

Example 3:

         谁言寸草心,                    Who says that the heart of an inch-long plant

         报得三春晖。                    Can requite the radiance of full spring?

     Translated by Rober Kotewall& Norman L. Smith45(Lu Shuxiang&Xu Yuanchong, 1988:235)

     The poet here capitalizes on two images “寸草心”, a metaphor for the child‟s heart and “三

春晖”, a metaphor for mother‟s love and nurture to express his deep gratitude for his mother and

his great regret for his incapability to requite mother‟s love. The two images are absent in the

target language culture, but keeping the images hold utmost importance to convey the information

in the original text and above all the ideorealm of the poem. The translation preserves the image


without changing its figure of speech and makes the readers arrive at the implicatures by enriching

their encyclopedic knowledge.

     All the examples quoted above are to preserve the images from semantic perspective.

According to Functional Equivalence theory, we should also pay attention to the stylistic and

rhetorical values of source text while focusing on the designative and associative meaning. Eugene

Nida once said: “Translating consists in reproducing in the receptor language the closest natural

equivalent of the source language message, first in terms of meaning and secondly in terms of

style.”46 (Qiu Maoru, 2000:256). Chinese poetry is a genre with unique style and distinctive

features. Its beauty lies in not only connotative ness or poetic indeterminacy, but also in its brevity

or conciseness of language form and its beauty of music. So in considerable measurement,

preserving the images successfully should include the due consideration to other factors such as

linguistic form, sound effect and the style of the original poem.

Example 4:


   Version1: Clouds have their peculiar flair and skill;

   They can change their size and shape, as they will. (Tr. Xu Zhongjie)47(Xu Zhongjie, 1986: 67)

   Version2: Clouds float like works of art. (Tr. Xu Yuanzhong)48(Xu Yuanchong, 1990:247)

     Both translations keep the image in the original poetry and convey clearly the meaning of the

image, but different translation adopted different language form. The language in the first version

is too redundant and lost the beauty of conciseness. Xu Yuanzhong‟s translation is consistent with

the principle of conciseness and plays the beauty of Chinese classical poetry into full swing.

Example5: 楚山秦山皆白云,白云处处长随君。



     Epiphora, or Lianzhu in Chinese, a unique form with the repetition of the ending word of one

line at the beginning of the next line, is used here to set the lyric to musical forms. The musical

effect, or more properly, complement, in addition to being a harmonization, is an enhancement of

the text-mood and frequently a musical elaboration of ideas expressed. It is quite difficult to

represent the form, but still Xu Yuanchong makes his attempt:

              From the mountain you come; to the mountain you go,

              On Testification of Translation of Imagery in Classical Chinese Poetry

              White clouds will follow you high and low, high and low,

              When you come into Southern mountains high,

              Following you, o‟er Southern streams white clouds will fly.

              O‟er Southern water blue,

              There‟s ivy cloud for you,

              You should go back and lie on cloud as white clouds do.



    Version1: Fine rain sifts through the wutung trees,

               And drips, drop by drop through the dusk. (Tr. Kenneth Rexroth)

     Version2: On parasol-trees a fine rain drizzles

               As twilight grizzles. (Tr. Xu Yuanzhong)

    The poem described the poet‟s loneliness after her husband passed away. The poet is so

grievous and fragile that she could not even bear the sound of the rain. The image “rain” is

modified by “点点滴滴”. The reiterative words “点点” and “滴滴” all begin with the consonant

/d/, which is onomatopoesis of the sound of rain drop. The first version of translation keeps this

musical pattern by using “drip drop by drop” thus creates a similar music effect, making the target

language readers gain more beauty beyond meanings and thoughts. Such examples abound in

translation practice. When Burton Watson translated the line“世事茫茫难自料,春愁黯黯独成

眠”(The world‟s way-dim and distant hard to foretell; Spring grieves-chill and dark; I sleep

alone. ), he put“茫茫”into “dim and distant”.

10.2.2 Substituting the Images

    When the same image in both languages refers to different things or an image in one

language is expressed with another image and at the same time if keeping the image entails

excessive professing efforts of the target language readers, substitution should be adopted during

translating the image. Substitution means replacing the original image with a target image that

refers to different referent but shares the similar connotation with the original. The translator

assumes that due to contextual differences, literal transference of image may result in excessive


processing effort and small contextual effects. Therefore he adopted the substitution strategy to

avoid explicating the intended meaning of the original image and relies on the target image to

convey the intended meaning or associative meaning. The Skopos theory is one of the theories that

can justify this method. According to Skopos theory, the adequacy of the translation is more

important than equivalence and translation is based on not only the source text but also the

expectation of the target language readers and reader‟s cultural background and encyclopedic

knowledge. So in some cases, substitution is needed to avoid large processing efforts or

misinterpretations. For example, in classical Chinese poetry, the image “玉颜” is metaphor used to

describe women‟s beauty. Jade, as a precious stone, is cherished all through the ages by Chinese

people for it symbolizes purity and gentleness. In comparison, jade in English culture often refers

to frivolous and vulgar women, a symbol of the obsolete. So “玉颜” should not be translated into

“jade face”. When we translate such a line “新人美如玉”, we can put it into “sweet as a lily (or a

rose)”49(Li Tefu& Chen Jianjing, 2001:78), because the image of lily or rose can express the

intended meaning and convey the connotations of the image.

Example 1:


   Version 1: Kuan-kuan go the ospreys,

             On the islet in the river.

             The modest, retiring, virtuous young lade:

             For our prince a good mate she‟s. (Tr. James Legge)

   Version 2: By riverside are cooing

               A pair of turtledoves;

               A good young man is wooing

               A maiden fair he loves.           (Tr. Xu Yuanchong)

     The introduction of ospreys into the translation is obviously inappropriate in that this poem is

an epithalamium for marriage and osprey is a bird of prey symbolizing violence and villainy. Xu‟s

version, the image “雎鸠” is substituted by “turtledove”, thus successfully conveyed the intended

meaning and aroused the readers‟ association of couple love.

     The same emotion in quite a few cases has different ways of expressing in different cultures.

In Chinese language, “伤心肝” and “断肠” are often used to express a grievous and heart-stricken

              On Testification of Translation of Imagery in Classical Chinese Poetry

mood, while in English, the same emotion is only expressed by “伤心” (heart-stricken), and no

such words as “liver” and “intestines” are ever used.

Example 2: 李白《长相思》




          Hard for the soul to fly

          O‟er skies so long and earth so wide!

          So high the passes, deep the tide,

          Thy vision comes not to my side,

          Yet mutual longings us enwrap,

          Until my very heartstrings snap. (Tr. John B. Fletcher)

     The image “催心肝” is translated into “heartstrings snap” and achieved consistency with the

image in original text. Still another example:

               断肠未忍扫,                We can not sweep them up, my broken heartstring!

          眼穿仍欲归。              Yet would I return, though mine eyes are pierced through.

                              (Tr John B. Fletcher)

     The above quoted poems illustrate how substitution can effectively and efficiently convey the

intended meaning. There is little gain or loss during transferring the images. But sometimes, there

can be a substantial loss of information due to substitution. However, such loss can be justified.

Example3: 蓬莱文章建安骨 Your writing is forcible like ancient poets.(Tr Xu Yuanchong)

“蓬莱” according to legend is a fairy mountain where an invaluable collection of sutras and

scriptures is kept, while “建安”, the title of the Emperor Liu Xie‟s reign(190-220) in East Han

Dynasty, suggests the vigorous and powerful style of “Jian‟an Literature” as represented by Cao

Cao, Cao Pi, Cao Zhi and the seven talented writers of the Jian‟an Period. Difference between the

SL and the TL construct insurmountable obstacles upon the two words heavily loaded with

cultural connotations. According to Reception Aesthetics theory, aesthetic distance determines the

artistic quality and acceptability of literary works, If the distance is too far and the reader can‟t

objectify his horizon of expectation, the text would be rejected. This can justify why Xu did not

adopt the word-by-word or corresponding translation method but chose to point out only the


semantic meaning and leave out the historical associations. Because such a profound historical

association entail the readers strenuous effects to reach and the aesthetic distance is too far to




          Version1: A gold toad gnaws the lock. Open it, burn the incense.

                    A tiger of jade pulls the rope. Drew from the well and escapes.

                    (Tr. Angus C. Graham)

          Version2: When doors were locked and incense burned I came at night.

                    And left at dawn when windless pulled up water cool. (Tr. Xu Yuanzhong)

     This is a poem about love. The first version chooses the method of word for word translation.

But when the target language readers read the translation, they will surely be confused by the

images of “gold toad” and “tiger of jade” and they may wonder how the gold toad can gnaw the

lock and how the jade tiger can pull the rope. Therefore the first version is a failure in that it can

not convey the intended meaning of the image. In Xu‟s version, though the image is not

transferred with all the original information, the connotation of the image has fully and completely

dug out. The image of “金蟾啮锁” means nothing but that the door is locked. The designative

meaning of this phrase is not so closed related to the whole poem. In order to make it easier to

read and more facile to understand, substitution was adopted, which help the translator

successfully reach a higher degree of resemblance to the original image.

11. Conclusion
     Poetry is a brilliant pearl in the strings of Chinese literature which enjoys pervasive

popularity both at home and abroad. Image, as an important element of classical Chinese poetry, is

the artistic description or employment of an object that evokes sensuous impression and represents

the poet‟s thoughts. Embedded in rich cultural background and concise Chinese language form,

image presents great difficulties in translation. But no difficulty can deny the translatability of the

image because of the language universality, cognitive homology and cultural permeability.

     Image, as the core element and the soul of the classical Chinese poetry, enjoys a

time-honored history and has developed a full and complete set of rules and features, which

               On Testification of Translation of Imagery in Classical Chinese Poetry

provides the standing point of the justification of imagery translation. From the process of the

image creation and conveyance, we can clearly observe the scientific mechanism that makes the

conveyance of the original meaning of the poet to the model reader possible. The analysis of the

categories of imagery and its combination and artistic features further illustrate its dynamic

existence and can serve as the image-decoding reference to help the translator understand the

image and restitute the image semantically, stylishly and spiritually.

     Image is the fusion of objective phenomena and the poet‟s subjective emotions. It is in

essence the determinate structure with indeterminacies, which calls for the readers to fill in.

Closed in its structure and open in its meaning system, a translator should preserve as many gaps

or indeterminacies as possible in the TL text so that TL readers will have the freedom of

imagination like the SL text readers when they read it. Therefore, close reading, untiring study of

the authorship, and exhaustive examinations of the intrinsic qualities of the original poem are

needed to explicate the images.

     From the unremitting translation practice of the Chinese classical poetry by both the domestic

and foreign scholars, we can find the translation of Chinese classical poetry is still achievable for

all the difficulty. The most notable thing is that Chinese and Western poetry began to influence

each other at the beginning of 20th century when Western imagists translated and tried to learn

from Li Bai,Wang Wei and in China, Guo Moruo. Xu Zhimo translated and praised highly of

poems by Percy Bysshe Shelley. John Keats, etc. As the convergence of the Chinese poetry and

western one, image as a medium to communicate the poet‟s meaning from one language to another

has become more illuminant.

     From the birth of the image, to its dynamic existence, and its resonance in TL reader‟s mind,

its life is carried by the rendition. The translation of images in Chinese poetry can be testified.

When it comes to the tactics for the image translation of Chinese classical poetry, preservation and

substitution are the two feasible and fundamental ways to fulfill the task. So long as the image in

the poem and the image beyond the image are delivered to the readers with no distortion or

misdirection, and so long as the target image interpretively leaves the meaning of image as open as

it is in source language, the translation is successful.



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4 Owen. Stephen. 1992. Readings In Chinese Literary Thought. [M]. Cambrige, Massachusetts
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