with S. Ye Laird
by Derek Walcott
I live on the water,
alone. Without wife and children,
I have circled every possibility
to come to this:
a low house by grey water,
with windows always open
to the stale sea. We do not choose such things,
but we are what we have made.
We suffer, the years pass,
we shed freight but not our need
for encumbrances. Love is a stone
that settled on the sea-bed
under grey water. Now, I require nothing
From poetry but true feeling,
no pity, no fame, no healing. Silent wife,
we can sit watching grey water,
and in a life awash
with mediocrity and trash
I shall unlearn feeling,
unlearn my gift. That is greater
and harder than what passes there for life.
Childhood 童年 by Maojing 茅境
-- translated from Chinese by S. Ye
My childhood was hand-carved on a small classroom
desk - a demarcation of my world and your world.
Your little folding fan unfolds in full swing
our 'no school' summer time
We bragged about stories from our fathers by the road
till night falls and mosquito started buzzing,
telling their hungry woo by our ears
and following our footsteps back home.
Rain slashing banana leaves, pulling up young bamboo shoots
by the wall, painted ginseng leaves layer after layer of water green.
The river that drowned my classmate is on the east side
Who knows if the drowned spirit becomes hibiscus
or matrimony vine?
We loved chasing field rats, their fate is not unlike
what we might face as grown-ups
That snake we hung on the black board,
that snake we once broke its back
Would it still be able to chase field rats,
drove them to an impasse?
Pebbles by the riverbank washed here and there
cracks between stones grow bead tree, beautiful bitter melon
when bitter melon turns red, when bead tree flowers
childhood has left you far far away
peasant bend torso, facing black earth
gadfly flies on his back, leech sucks on his leg.
For our April issue, if one recalls T.S.Eliot famous line in his Wasteland: 'April is the cruelest month of the year...' but what following could be worse still? What if the month of May, there is yet no way out, of a wasteland so deep, inside one collective Psyche ? I have, at this moment, no clue how to render a poem written by my contemporary and unknown poet Maojing 茅境 around 1999. One thing for sure that it was the very opposite narratives with Robert Herrick's "Corinna's going A-maying' on the left. What Maojing's poem brings up to my mind is closest in, perhaps, reflecting 'Geometry of Fear' - a movement by a group of sculptors from Britain in 1950s. How to overcome this fear in each of our own way is Muse's responsibilities, yes?
translated into Chinese by S. Ye
Corinna's going a Maying
BY ROBERT HERRICK
Get up, get up for shame, the Blooming Morne
Upon her wings presents the god unshorne.
See how Aurora throwes her faire
Fresh-quilted colours through the aire:
Get up, sweet-Slug-a-bed, and see
The Dew-bespangling Herbe and Tree.
Each Flower has wept, and bow'd toward the East,
Above an houre since; yet you not drest,
Nay! not so much as out of bed?
When all the Birds have Mattens seyd,
And sung their thankful Hymnes: 'tis sin,
Nay, profanation to keep in,
When as a thousand Virgins on this day,
Spring, sooner than the Lark, to fetch in May.
Rise; and put on your Foliage, and be seene
To come forth, like the Spring-time, fresh and greene;
And sweet as Flora. Take no care
For Jewels for your Gowne, or Haire:
Feare not; the leaves will strew
Gemms in abundance upon you:
Besides, the childhood of the Day has kept,
Against you come, some Orient Pearls unwept:
Come, and receive them while the light
Hangs on the Dew-locks of the night:
And Titan on the Eastern hill
Retires himselfe, or else stands still
Till you come forth. Wash, dresse, be briefe in praying:
Few Beads are best, when once we goe a Maying.
Come, my Corinna, come; and comming, marke
How each field turns a street; each street a Parke
Made green, and trimm'd with trees: see how
Devotion gives each House a Bough,
Or Branch: Each Porch, each doore, ere this,
An Arke a Tabernacle is
Made up of white-thorn neatly enterwove;
As if here were those cooler shades of love.
Can such delights be in the street,
And open fields, and we not see't?
Come, we'll abroad; and let's obay
The Proclamation made for May:
And sin no more, as we have done, by staying;
But my Corinna, come, let's goe a Maying.
There's not a budding Boy, or Girle, this day,
But is got up, and gone to bring in May.
A deale of Youth, ere this, is come
Back, and with White-thorn laden home.
Some have dispatcht their Cakes and Creame,
Before that we have left to dreame:
And some have wept, and woo'd, and plighted Troth,
And chose their Priest, ere we can cast off sloth:
Many a green-gown has been given;
Many a kisse, both odde and even:
Many a glance too has been sent
From out the eye, Loves Firmament:
Many a jest told of the Keyes betraying
This night, and Locks pickt, yet w'are not a Maying.
Come, let us goe, while we are in our prime;
And take the harmlesse follie of the time.
We shall grow old apace, and die
Before we know our liberty.
Our life is short; and our dayes run
As fast away as do's the Sunne:
And as a vapour, or a drop of raine
Once lost, can ne'r be found againe:
So when or you or I are made
A fable, song, or fleeting shade;
All love, all liking, all delight
Lies drown'd with us in endlesse night.
Then while time serves, and we are but decaying;
Come, my Corinna, come, let's goe a Maying.
五月空虚 - by 茅境
some days are sunny, some days are rainy
Her quiet smile withered away like wasted millet grass
In our small country hospital
often, young women crying over their husbands' corpse
often, seen young woman beaten up by her man
she took a mouthful and swallowed pesticide
she stole food from her working unit
But we get to see a movie
we run around telling the news
we went to see once more 'the red shining star'
Childhood riverbank is full of danger
Winter's mud and fire is best to scotch sweet potato
mud path by the riverbank
it pays no attention and swallow up your playmate
nobody sees what is not seen
you search for water cabbage's spring
you search for algoe's spring
we all know Chinese clover has no spring
When spring comes
They were rolled plowshares,
Buried in hell.