“House of Flying Daggers” 《十面埋伏》 《佳人歌》
In the movie 十面埋伏 (House of Flying Daggers) , there's is this song 佳人歌 (The Beauty Song), which is a poem written around 80 BCE, and is used as the main theme of the film. Here's the lyrics.
北方有佳人， 絕世而獨立。 一顧傾人城， 再顧傾人国。 寧不知倾城与倾国。 佳人難再得。
In the North there's a lady, stunning and singular. One look confounds a city; a touch dooms an empire. Rather not wishing to know, the ruination that may follow. Rare beauty is here and now.
This is a gravely beautiful poem, perhaps the most beautiful in praising the beauty of a woman.
The English translation in the DVD i'm watching goes thus:
a rare beauty in the North, she's the finest lady on earth a glance from her, the whole city goes down a second glance leaves the nation in ruins there exists no city or nation, that has been more cherished than a beauty like this.
This translation does not do the poem justice. It's rather crude and rash, and missing meanings and the sublime and weight of the poem's essence.
Wikipedia on Li Yannian (李延年) gives this translation, which i think is faithful to the original and high quality.
In the north there is a beauty: Surpassing the world, she stands alone. A glance from her will overthrow a city; A second glance will overthrow the State. Don't I know she can overthrow the city and the State? But such a beauty cannot be found again!
Here are some Screenshots from the movie:
References and Sources
- Scholarly essay about this poem. 北方有佳人 By 潘啸龙. @
http://www.guoxue.com/art/ss000/hvsc001/bfyjr002.htm(local copy the_beauty_song.txt)
- Photo source:
Kathleen Battle — “Lovers”
Another beautiful song in this movie, is one called Lovers, sung by Kathleen Battle.
Kathleen Battle — “Lovers” Lyrics
There was a field in my old town, Where we always played hand in hand. The wind was gently touching the grass, We were so young so fearless. Then I dreamt over and over, of you holding me tight under the stars. I made a promise to my dear Lord, I will love you forever. Time has passed, So much has changed. But the field remains in my heart, Oh where are you? I need to tell you I still love you, So I reach out for you. You fly around me like a butterfly. Your voice still echoes in my heart, You are my true love. There was a field in my old town, Where in spring all flowers blossomed wide. We were chasing butterflies, Hand in hand 'til close of day. Your voice still echoes in my heart.
Though, the lyrics has little to do with the film, and little poetic quality.