August 2017 Vol. II No. VIII
Not your ordinary poetry magazine!
If good coffee (or just the concept of coffee), great books, sharp wit, and great authors excite you, we are for you!
with S. Ye Laird
" Night of summer, growing like oppressed new bamboo shoots, fragile body with thick knuckles, in a blink of eye, breaks through into glowing light " 夏日之夜，有如苦竹，竹细节密，顷刻之间，随即天明 "
"The literature of the world has exerted its power by being translated." ----- Mark Van Doren ( 1894 - 1972)
Eileen Chang: Verse and Chitchat
-- an excerpt translated by S. Ye. @July 2017
Summer days sizzling up one after another, stunningly bright, a thread
so thin, almost on the verge of broken apart, yet being patched up by singularly persisting chirping of cicadas, ' yes la, yes la, yes la, la...'
This month, due to illness, having no need for ordering take-outs and
spending bus fares, I find myself suddenly well off a bit. Although my
illness wasn't that of fashionable type, I had stomach run and painfully rolling and cursing to and fro on the bamboo mat.
Since it was a hot summer, imprisoned at home, can't do much of anything else, except composing an article about Cezanne's painting, about books I've read, about religious belief among Chinese people, somehow a redemptive surge shaped up. I decided that this is going to be my month of high spirited indulgence. Hence without much ado on this single minded note, I shall chitchat on verse and poets.
Mr. Zhou, 'a sentimental poet', the younger brother of another 'upright gent', has translated this famous verse from Japanese into Chinese: “夏日之夜，有如苦竹，竹细节密，顷刻之间，随即天明。” I asked my aunt to take a look. My aunt often chats in her typical 'believing lightly on learned scholarly rudimentary' ways. After first reading, she said that it made little sense to her. Then she pondered for a while, adding: "Since this piece is considered a classic, there must be something in it, you think? But we can't know for sure, can we? Once a scholar is well looked after by established fame, he gained his right to eight different takes on any ridiculous point of view.
( To be continued...)
Translator would like to dedicate this translation-in-progress to my mother-in-law Heidi, sister-in-law Holly B., and cousin Sage. Month of July is a most celebrated month all due to these three ladies of extraordinaire, their reflective & wicked wry in all manifested grace and cheer.
"Lucia, We Know Not"
by Candy Marie, originally posted on 'Poetry War Zone'
on July 14th, 2017.
The Battle lines are drawn,
The gales of change are a front.
A poetess under house arrest,
All over a Noble prize?
Meanwhile, the masks stay on,
One, a mask to cover scars,
Another, a mask to give life,
The third, a mask to deceive all.
A man stands at a podium,
He speaks on unity,
He talks about how perfect it is,
But his podium is crumbling.
Where can we stand?
What happens when peace binds you?
How does that even make sense?
Was not peace to be a Poet's mainstay?
How Long the Night
anonymous Old English Lyric, circa early 13th century AD
- loose translation by Michael R. Burch
It is pleasant, indeed, while the summer lasts
with the mild pheasants' song ...
but now I feel the northern wind's blast;
its severe weather strong.
Alas! Alas! This night seems so long!
And I, because of my momentous wrong
now grieve, mourn and fast.
Michael R. Burch - overlord at www.thehypertexts.com ; a regular contributor to gardening next door with our muse Vera. This is his first gimmick in translation picked up by anonymous new fan...
unrelated booknote: Winter 2018 sneak peek from graywolfpress
by Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906)
I know what the caged bird feels, alas!
When the sun is bright on the upland slopes;
When the wind stirs soft through the springing grass,
And the river flows like a stream of glass;
When the first bird sings and the first bud opes,
And the faint perfume from its chalice steals -
I know what the caged bird feels!
I know why the caged bird beats his wing
Till its blood is red on the cruel bars;
For he must fly back to his perch and cling
When he fain would be on the bough a-swing;
And a pain still throbs in the old, old scars
And they pulse again with a keener sting -
I know why he beats his wing!
I know why the caged bird sings, ah me,
When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore, -
When he beats his bars and he would be free;
It is not a carol of joy or glee,
But a prayer that he sends from his heart's deep core,
But a plea, that upward to Heaven he flings -
I know why the caged bird sings!
So is not with me as with that Muse,
Stirr'd by a painted beauty to his verse,
Who heaven itself for ornament doth use
And every fair with his fair doth rehearse,
Making a couplement of proud compare,
With sun and moon, with earth and sea's rich gems.
With April's first-born flowers, and all things rare
That heaven's air in this huge rondure hems.
O, let me true in love, but truly write,
And then believe me, my love is as fair
As any mother's child, though not so bright
As those gold candles fix'd in heaven's air.
Let them say more that like of hearsay well;
I will not praise that purpose not to sell.
涂寿鹏编著 , 《英文诗歌导读》 , 第38页
This is a classical translation done by the late Poet/translator Liang Zhongdai ( 1903 - 1983), which we first featured on our Feb. issue. Our poets revisited us in good spirit after 6 months of roaming under the sun.
Summer in the City
Doves of peace shit a bit and fly off,
the sun a bull's-eye
and yet people still
stroke each other's skin, apply
word bandages, move from home to heart
or into other people,
because the eyes around us are gunfire sockets,
the reptilian brain already shooting,
and yet in the middle of all this,
people still give massages,
smear oil, roll joints
for other people
crowded into second-rate groups
to bake wafers for the moon, to listen to
more and more people move
from home to heart or into other people,
excellent in emergencies,
they manage to pass through the darkness under covers
reading the Braille of each other's skin with their fingertips
whispering my wife my husband my beloved
and if you should ask me how I'm doing,
you'll feel as though you just shot a bird.
To my parents, of blessed memory
I don't know you
to tell the truth
you don't know me either.
I see barbed wire rusting in your eyes
in the evening when your soul hollows
opposite the television console,
in your arms a small tuna salad
together with dry toast.
but your mother tongue is not my mother tongue
so we prefer to take a walk:
walking is better than sitting,
sitting is better than lying down,
lying down is better than sleeping
and we walk,
your arm linked in mine,
and we play
"once upon a time"
that I was your mother
and now you are mine.
Agi Mishol, was born in 1947 in Hungary to Holocaust survivors and grew up in Israel. She is the author of twelve books of poetry, and the winner of numerous national awards including Yehuda Amichai Poetry Prize, in 2002.
Lisa Katz is a poet, translator, and scholar. She teaches at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel.
These two poems were published in "Look There" ( 2006) by Graywolf Press - a Lannan Translation Series Selection.
English translation of a Chinese Sonnet
Translator: Prof. Cheng Jiahui,
reviewed/edited by Dr. Li , Dr. Jim Sutton, Mr. Colin James III
Bliss comes like an immortal in fable,
Disguised as a skinny beggar in rags,
Kowtows to prayers for blessing on crags
And sees who can tell him from the humble.
He tours as an exalted ancient king,
With countless flags and carriages like clouds
Against sudden attacks by mobs in shrouds,
So none can see him in any guarded ring.
But today so natural and charming,
To me you come, my beautiful maiden,
And in your clear and bright eyes as the morning.
And in your laugh, without hesitation,
Abashed and stunned, I spot his Emmanuel brightness.
Behold, my eyes shed tears of devotion!
What St. Basil Said.
Hunger is worst of all. Hunger is pain—
the worst of miseries, the worst of deaths.
A knife kills quickly; famine kills you slow—
a long & endless martyrdom that drains
a body’s heat & shrivels up its breath,
till muscle, flesh & even color go.
Your bones stick to your body. Tawdry skin
begins to chafe like leather. Black & dry,
like chestnuts in their sockets, eyes lie still
& useless in their caverns. Ás it spins,
your stomach hollows, cramps against your spine.
Your knees won’t hold you up. Your words go shrill.
What kind of Hell awaits the well-heeled man
who walks in silence past an upraised hand?
Translated from St. Basil's Epistles (In Famen 69 C.) by Dr. Jim Sutton. It's a literal translation, word for word, but translated into English, it fell into a perfect sonnet without effort. Serendipity, or a miracle.
Love after Love
by Derek Walcott
The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
Translator Eva Zhang,
originally posted on LinkedIn