The Resonance of the Chinese Poetry on Walls on Angel Island



Waiting idly in uncertain detainment, the Chinese immigrants plagued by anxiety, desperation, and fear expressed their unsettling emotions through poetry written or carved into the barrack walls that confined them. Because of the ordeal of the immigration and detention, the poems recorded the optimistic response to their excursion to the "Golden Mountain," missing family and friends left behind at home, and their resentment and humiliation at the inhospitality and inhumane treatment the Americans granted them.


The translations of the engraved poems tired to kept the renditions as literal as possible without losing the original flavor. However, oftentimes there are no adequate English substitutes for certain Chinese characters where the interpreter's process of poetic translation involved a certain compromise. Therefore, "the form is oftentimes compromised in order to retain the content" as the first priority of the historians (Lai 31). This proves more difficult with Chinese vernacular expression that frequently resulted in non-idiomatic terms and phrases in English, and misinterpretations occur due to language and cultural barriers.


Voyage | Family and Dreams | Outpour | Poetry | Conclusion



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