Read Nagai Hefeng, Talk about Great Wu Fengcao | Yang Yueying


Dawu Fengcao

I used to read “Selected Essays of Yongjing Hefeng” (translated by Chen Dewen, Baihua Literature and Art Publishing House, 1997 edition), and I was deeply impressed by some passages describing plants in the book. Among them is “Chu Yan”, the author recalls his father, Nagai Wohara, a poet of the Han Dynasty, and the winter scenery is also included in the pen. Nagai Hefeng mentioned that at the end of the year, the flowers and branches in the courtyard are scattered, and quoted the work of his friend and famous haiku Azuki Toyama: “There are no flowers in the garden in winter, and the octagonal gold pan stone coltsfoot.”

The octagonal gold plate is quite common in Shanghai. This plant is named for the palmate divisions of the leaves, which are usually divided into eight pieces. “Eight” is only an approximation, and the leaves may split into other numbers. Its Japanese name “Eight Hands” is also a rather vivid appellation. It is not known what kind of plant the “shi coltsfoot” mentioned by Zishan Ziyue is. It does not seem to be an official Chinese plant name, but it is not the original Japanese text either. I did not find it in Japanese botany books. Thinking about it, since it is known as a common plant such as the star anise gold pan, it should not be too rare to plant in residential courtyards.

Later, I bought the original Japanese version of “The Complete Works of Nagai Hefeng”, and saw that the original text was “石蕗八手ほかに花なし冬の庭”, so I realized that the Chinese version of “Shikusuo” corresponds to the Japanese “Shiku” , referring to the Compositae plant whose scientific name is Dawu Fengcao. The word “蕗” was used as an alias for licorice in ancient times. “Compendium of Materia Medica” records that licorice is another name for licorice, but this alias has long been abandoned in modern Chinese. In Japanese, the butterbur of the genus Butterbur in the Compositae family is called “蕗”, and “coltsfoot” is also used as another name for butterbur. “Stonefoot” is translated as “Stonefoot” in this prose. The word “Shi” comes from the Japanese plant name “Stonefoot”, which has not been changed;

It should be noted that coltsfoot in Chinese is a plant of the genus Coltsfoot in the Asteraceae family, which is a different genus from Butterbur, and is not another name for the same plant. That is to say, “coltsfoot” in Chinese and Japanese, although the Chinese characters are the same, the plants they refer to are different.

The interesting thing about this translated name is that it compromises the Chinese characters of the Japanese plant names, and discards the Chinese name “Dawu Fengcao” corresponding to “Shilu”. In fact, it can be said to be a new translation by the translator. Mr. Chen Dewen translated elegantly, translating haiku into seven-character poems, and because the common scientific name “Dawu Fengcao” is difficult to include in poetry, he took pains to embed the Japanese alias of “蕗”. The translated name is not arbitrarily played out, and it can be seen from the consideration and painstaking effort spent in translation. Whether the translation is elegant or not is hidden in such details.

“Nagai Hefeng Prose Selected” includes “Arrowtail Grass”, which mentions that there are various plants such as Dawufengcao in the garden: “Autumn is over soon. The fence where the chrysanthemums withered has bloomed again. flowers. On the treetops with fallen leaves, you can often hear the song of the morah. The chestnuts are ripe and fall down by the well in the back garden.”

Although this text is not translated into poetry and does not have to be limited by the number of words, in order to keep the translated title of a book consistent, it is still translated as “Stone Coltsfoot Flower” here. I think the translator may be out of such considerations. I like this description of the scene very much. The flowering period of Dawu Fengcao is after the chrysanthemums. It is really a very detailed natural observation, and there are chronological changes; and “the fence where the chrysanthemums wither” reminds people of the interest of Dongli chrysanthemums.

Dawufengcao is a common plant. It is often planted in the green belts on both sides of Shanghai streets, and it blooms in early winter. I think the name of Da Wu Fengcao is very characteristic, but I added the word “big”, and I always thought that there is a corresponding “Little Wu Fengcao” or “Wu Fengcao”, but in fact there is no such thing in “Flora of China” description.

“Compendium of Materia Medica” mentions a plant called “Weixian”, also known as Luxiancao and Wufengcao. According to the size of this plant, it was divided into big Wufengcao and small Wufengcao by the ancients. In fact, Dawu Fengcao is a perennial herbaceous plant, and the grown plants are similar in size without obvious difference. I think the so-called Dawufengcao and Xiaowufengcao should be two kinds of Compositae plants of different sizes, which were mistaken for the same species by the ancients. There are many varieties of Asteraceae plants, and many of them have golden flowers. Not only are they similar in appearance, but also in the same flowering season, so it is easy to be confused when identifying the species.

As the name suggests, Dawu Fengcao has the characteristics of “big”. Not only is the plant taller than most Compositae plants, but the leaves also have a sense of roundness. In spring, the achenes produced gather on the inflorescence support , forming a pompom-like appearance, which is very similar to the common dandelion fruit. Once, I was on the edge of the grass in the park. I saw a child who recognized the fruit-bearing Dawufengcao as a dandelion. I leaned over and blew on it. After blowing several times in a row, there was no movement. The child was a little discouraged. look. The child’s mother ran over and blew it, but she still didn’t move at all, and there was no effect of floating in the sky at all, so she said to him: This dandelion is too big, we need to find a smaller dandelion to blow on.

I happened to hear it from the side, and couldn’t help but say: This is not a dandelion, it can’t be blown. Dandelion grows short, and the leaves are different, elongated. The child’s mother laughed happily and said: I said that I couldn’t blow it at all, and thought it was a dandelion that grew too big.

It was still cold in early spring, and it seemed that the season of dandelions had not yet come to bloom and bear fruit. I wondered if the lovely mother and son had found any dandelion fruits in the park that they could blow and play with. I recently read Nagai Hefeng’s prose, and when I read a paragraph describing the flowering of Dawu Fengcao, I suddenly remembered the conversation between the mother and son. In the cold wind of early winter, the big Wufengcao blooms golden flowers, tall and straight, and there is a feeling of wild chrysanthemums being plump and firm after being fattened in autumn. Dawu Fengcao is such a kind of plant that becomes a little fat in winter and blooms very cutely.

Author: Yang Yueying

Editor: Wu Dongkun

Editor in charge: Shu Ming

*Wenhui exclusive manuscript, please indicate the source when reprinting.

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