Bonus of dubious value

In a comment, Tim brought up that Hojoki translation I was working on. Probably partly due to my circumstances at the time, I never did get very far. For example, I ended up with this for the first part:

The river flows without pause, and the water therein, once past, never returns. In its pools and backwaters, bubbles appear and vanish, never remaining for long. So, too, the people and dwellings of this world.

In the jeweled capital, the noble and the wretched alike build their homes in rows, striving to raise the highest roof. Will these dwellings truly remain as generations pass? Few remain from ages past. Some, razed by fire last year, were rebuilt in this one; some, once grand and prosperous, are now reduced to humble huts.

So, too, the people who dwell within them. To the man who long ago knew twenty, even thirty people, a mere one or two acquaintances remain, though he has not moved from his busy neighbourhood. At sunrise, a death; at sunset, a birth: how like those bubbles in the water are we.

Ignorant of whence we come, we are born; we die ignorant of whither we go. Mere lodgers, we know not for whose sake we suffer, nor why we should feel pleasure.

House and master, struggling against transience: no more than dew on a morning glory's petals. Sometimes the dew falls and the flower remains. "Remains" -- but tomorrow it will wither and die. Sometimes the flower wilts, but the dew vanishes not. "Vanishes not" -- but it will not last until evening.

... which I'm not happy with at all (the self-consciously "literary" style undermines the bleak, defeated feel I wanted), but as an aborted experiment (or a counter-example) I suppose it may interest somebody. I might give it a try again when I've endured a few more natural catastrophes.

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Thanks for posting this, Matt. Whatever its flaws, it makes an interesting comparison with Donald Keene's translation in the Penguin Classics Anthology of Japanese Literature to the Nineteenth Century, which I reread recently.

(It's also, unsurprisingly, a huge step up on the time I attempted to go through the text with a kanji dictionary, which got about as far as "some sort of metaphor about stream water".)

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