This article provides a fresh reading of British diplomat Thomas Francis Wade's translation and Qing foreign-affairs official Dong Xun's rewrite of American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's “A Psalm of Life.” Situating its analyses in the context of Sino-Western diplomatic maneuvers in 1860s Qing China, the article clarifies the paratextual chronology of the translations, analyzes the translators’ manipulations of poetic form, and draws on Lawrence Venuti's theorization of foreignizing translation and Lydia H. Liu's concept of the supersign to expose Wade's foreignizing strategy against the Sinocentric yi 夷 (barbarity) discourse. The article's coda investigates the circulation of this intercultural occurrence through Goethe's Weltliteratur and David Damrosch's renewed concept of world literature, highlighting the failures of both the British Empire's and the Qing Empire's diplomatic intents through the translations.

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