your shards are more precious than pure jade,
but your eyes
already became foggy,
like a muddled landscape.
This vagrant princess
faces your gaze,
for she forgot how to put on makeup.
She kept her dreams a secret,
so she could give her parents some green tea.
Her boat cannot escape
the crowded harbor,
but her fingers
always play the piano,
and she uses her tears to write songs
and to remember once again.
However, her body is
a green apple tree;
at midnight, she still sings
and lets the northern wind embrace her.
a shining declaration;
after she is destroyed,
she finally embraces
more eternal than a golden chain.
Although you don't know the story she wrote,
she stands in front of you again, today.
Bruised and scarred, her question is
not who is the fairest,
but who is the most courageous.
Oh! I've been so busy repenting,
I didn't realize my heart
had already melted into wax.
Sorry it’s been a while since I last updated! I was pondering about what to do next for it, because I wanted to do more translation work on here. I post a bit more original stuff on Tumblr (also called betweenthetimeandsound); here’s 蔚蓝 (Azure), which was inspired by colors.
“Poetry Doesn’t Know that the Self already Died” is a curious piece–with a bunch of images including a golf course, tears from many places, and insects living on, Lv Yue comments on how poetry assumes its already dead. Quite meta, and it reminds me of how Yu Xinqiao mentions it in his work. Though with the latter, it is mentioned in context, rather than about the work themselves.
Poetry doesn't know that the self is already dead.
On a thousand-hold golf course, it holds a state funeral for it,
with flower pedals sprinkled on the eyelids,
and several tears sprinkled on the flower pedals.
One from a Greek person, one from an Indian person,
and one from a seal.
The epitaph was written in Latin and in oracle script,
all the people with two legs can see it has finally died.
The body's wearing its burial clothes, woven in black and gold,
its lips like a smile, but not exactly.
The lizards live, the butterflies live,
all climbing and flying things live.
The dinosaurs now go on spring excursions in the zoo with elementary school students,
withstanding little stomachs filled with milk.
The Pope lives, and flies a plane to Africa,
the ninth generation of robots are also alive.
Poetry doesn't know the self is already dead;
it dreams of itself bringing all the deceased, children and pregnant women parachuting from heaven,
shooting fiery arrows from hell,
running a marathon wearing a bulletproof vest in the streets
of the third world.
On the grave, although the child realizes his eyes still turn under his eyelids,
he offers his own corneas--
so he can never see his own death.
Today my body is just a destroyed willow tree.
In the city, the leaves fly at me,
but I rely on the summer.
Time always takes the subway, and I chase the wrong place.
My fingers are azure, and my palms are purple.
No matter how many people give me learning chances,
I remain in my mind, filled with blooming flowers,
busy listening to the singing of angels,
so that I may believe I will find you again.
Your faraway phrases are my honey,
but which beekeeper will steal it from me?
Your faraway phrases are my honey,
so why is it more bitter today?
I wrote you a prayer, but I do know
that you only believe in the world's beauty--helpless.
Maybe you experienced a knife in your heart, but chose mercy.
Let's sing together when nobody's listening.
I don't live on for the indifferent,
but I'm afraid I may become a fragile shadow.
Your smile might ignite my courage--
how could I wield this double-edged sword?
Your faraway phrases are my honey,
but which beekeeper will steal it from me?
Your faraway phrases are my honey,
so why is it more bitter today?
My tears wash my face clean,
and I could clearly see the neon lights.
Growing colder and colder, I scream--
and only the sparrows listen to me.
The crescent moon uses its glass knife
to make fun of my fragile heart;
the sky's dark humor
cannot understand the vacancy in my palm.
The milk-white light
also pierces through my thoughts--
amongst the remains of the city in my mind,
I'm already lost to the neon lights.
I hear the seashore's melody--
greets me with the foam.
I value such an illusion,
so to forget the feast of poisonous weeds--
my final meal.
I let the endless sand
float on and on
from my palm;
my past life
Is a dying crab.
The seagulls cry out my name,
Because nobody venerates the exiled...
La dame a libérée la mer,
Mais elle n’a écoute pas les cris des sirènes
Qui ont transformé des monstres de la nuit.
Elle regarde-moi avec yeux en galaxies,
et m'attend utiliser mon épée sacre
Tuer des femmes profanées
Pour montrer sa force mystique.
J’ai fait le signe de la croix,
Mais ma main est mon avec sang
Et mes prières ont étouffés par des prostituées,
Avec ses baisers en vin.
Les lumières dans mon bateau continuent secouer,
Mes amis ont peur de la tempête et du feu,
Et je suis seul encore.
Quand je suis en genoux,
Mon cœur chante des berceuses perdes.
J’ai offert le ciel pour la dame,
Pour assagir ses larmes en étoiles,
Mais elle pleure encore avec ses bijoux
Que j’ai obtenir pour acheter mon amour.
J’ai cherché la nuit pour des anges déchues,
Ses ailes brulées guident-moi à mes desirs
Mais les plumes volent à mes yeux,
Cendres aveugle mes promesses.
J’ai imaginé une nouvelle vie dans ces iles--
Quand mes pèches sont brûlées,
Et mes aveux sont rosiers renaitre
Pour mes enfants qui traverseront avec ses mères.
Mais ma vie n'est pas un monde entière--
il fait servir ma mère des pierres;
pour elle a toujours protégée moi.
The lady liberated the sea,
but she doesn't hear the mermaids' screams
who transformed into monsters of the night.
She looks at me with eyes of galaxies,
and waits for me to use my sacred sword
to kill these profaned women
to show her mystical power.
I crossed myself,
but my hand is covered in blood,
and my prayers are smothered by prostitutes,
with their wine-infused kisses.
The lights on my boat continue to shake,
my friends are afraid of the storm and fire,
and I am alone once again.
When I'm on my knees,
my heart sings lost lullabies.
I offered the sky for the lady,
to soother her star-streaked tears,
but she cries again with her jewels,
the ones I obtained to purchase my love.
I searched the night for fallen angels,
their burning wings guiding me towards my desires,
But their feathers fly towards my eyes,
the ashes blinding my promises.
I imagined a new life on these islands--
when my sins are burned,
and my confessions are reborn roses
for my children to traverse with their mothers.
But my life isn't the entire world--
I have to serve my mother on the rocks,
for she has always protected me.
I'm not willing to kill you once again;
my hands tremble with the young leaves.
I'm not worthy to wield a silver knife;
because my heartbeat represents a soft heart,
and yours is a boundless vacancy.
I waited for you under the olive trees;
but I still don't know what sins you have committed.
I hide myself behind the trees' branches,
but you keep looking at me,
and then you use the entire forest to embrace me.
I wasn't as good as last year.
You kiss me, again and again.
I stand guard for dawn's steed,
so that I may escape from
my parents' garden
and chase for life.
In that meadow,
even the bees will chase out your traces.
Your strawberry kisses--I know that sweetness,
but you cannot stand it when I share
an experienced tenderness with another lover.
You invite me for another toast;
my trembling legs struggle to escape.
My palm only hides a fresh orange,
and I use the silver knife to eat a little of it.
In the thick fog,
I cannot sleep.
I don't have time to tell you,
nor can I go back to the time when I really loved.
My body is a fire quickly burning out;
please use your hands to heal me
because my guardian angel has already abandoned me
and I'm bleeding mercury.
After that, please show off your wealth!
The sound of name-brands grants me safety,
I cannot bear to hear
those "we can't afford its" or "leave your dreams" again.
I forgotten where to go; please give me your hands--
I just want to respond to whomever could accompany me
towards the road of safety.
Kiss me with champagne,
I just want to know how luxury hugs me.
When other drunk people tell me how
I should just accept the necessities,
I listen to your blunt prayers--
but I remember how a silk blessing doesn't belong to me--
my destiny is to become a young ghost.
When you chase the nightingales,
in order to protest the red clouds of dawn,
I play with my pearls
I do not hope for tomorrow.
I lean close to the blue past,
and asked the summer roses
but I will be buried in a golden necklace--
that is my repentance.
J’ai pensé que je ne peux plus danser.
J’était dix-neuf ans, et je veux voyager jusqu’à
Mes rêves deviennent ennuyant
Et paradis n’est que un monde sans couleur,
Un jardin sans les fleurs uniques.
Jusqu’à ce jour, que j’ai tombé,
Ce jour, que je découverte mes limites,
Avec les feux d’enfer suivre à ma tombe,
J’ai pensé j'etais invincible,
Comme le soleil est se levé continument.
Mais comme le soleil,
J’ai appris que ce jour, j’brulerai ;
Ecouter les cris de milles de anges.
J’aurais les parle mes rêves,
Et crier mes prières, mon cadeaux dernières à cette terre.
Mais comme tout le monde,
Elles sont indifférentes,
Ont pensé j’ai devenu irrémédiable…
…mais je suis encore lève, c’est un jour nouveau.
I thought I couldn't dance again.
I was nineteen, and I want to travel
until my dreams became boring,
and paradise was only a world without color,
a garden without different flowers.
Until the day I fell,
The day in which I discovered my limits,
and hellfire follows me to my tomb.
I thought that I was invincible,
and I rose continually like the sun,
But like the sun,
I learned that I will burn one day,
listening to the cries of millions of angels.
I could've told them my dreams,
and shouted out my prayers, my last gifts to this world.
But like everyone else,
they are indifferent,
and thought that I was irredeemable...
But I woke up, for it's a new day.
Summer's eyes follow me
when I lean on your shoulder;
he doesn't know you, my love.
These sunny days make my heart
fly in the lonely cosmos,
and I cannot control these doubts.
Although I carelessly eat strawberries,
my lips ache for another feeling.
The current sweetness disappears like tiny bits of sand,
and I just want to know how to guard a bit of tenderness.
I left a few coins in my pocket;
a friend bought me a bottle of cola--
so I plan to use them to make a wish.
Your hands silently learn how to love;
however, my promises unravel
just like a spiderweb during a thunderstorm.
I cannot return to that once beautiful time;
I know too much,
and those strawberries are already gone.
Another Moon Festival comes, and so does another poem by me! This time, it focuses on pregnancy, though I tried to deal with climate change, because of the increasing temperatures in the Seattle area during the summer.
That year, I became pregnant,
but I bleed sweet wine,
and I don't know whether my baby will keep on living or not.
I wait for her father,
those hurried days are just
sparrows that have already left--
are those cherished footsteps already buried in the desert?
We envy the other's beauty.
you ask why I am the eternal dreamer,
I reply that I just want to live in
that city which pleases the eye--
that fantasy one cannot understand.
But you already know so many roads;
Now your light is not as attractive to the lost as the neon lights;
because your light orange glow paints the end of the world.
I ask you why did you take the years to make a scythe,
and then carve my death upon my back
while burning my wings.
You never talk about the end;
just that you will return again,
but you can't bear just to be another object,
this longing drives you mad.
My tongue curls up;
I'm afraid that he had died in battle,
so that he may have fresh blackberries again.
You keep on looking down on us,
because our pride are wildflowers.
After they bloom,
we sell them to others,
for we can afford neither virtue,
nor tickets back home.
You've been forced to hold the world
when the Milky Way slowly melts into platinum.
We stay on the city's outskirts,
and bid our friends goodbye.
So, in order to save a bit of each other,
I set out,
and betray a bit of my self-indulgence.
I follow that person's jacket;
facing the wind like a black military flag.
I hear her
praise for spring's fragility.
In my hand,
I hold her response in bright red--
"I was born depressed".
She only let me know.
Her heart is a dried-up well,
only birds of prey know
all of her heartache.
However, the scent of lemons
always leads me to
a park of willow trees.
Several swallows search with me
for a cheerful girl,
who always stays in a black-and-white photograph.
Although her name
is just an ancient prayer,
I still taste green apples
and my face withers again,
always yearning for spring.
In the eternal midsummer,
she wants to become the embodiment for freedom.
The sunlight belongs to her,
but I can't make out her truth.
One of the earliest poets I’ve read when I got into Chinese poetry was Xu Zhimo （徐志摩)，who lived in the early twentieth century. His literary career was during a turbulent time in China, in which the emperor was overthrown and the country was struggling between different political systems. Xu studied in both the United States and the United Kingdom (the latter which inspired his most famous poem, Saying Goodbye to Cambridge again), which resulted in him utilizing Western poetic styles with Chinese influences. Xu’s mystique is increased with his romantic interests, along with an early death because of a plane crash in 1931.
This poem, 《我有一个恋爱》(I Have a Love Affair), was written a few years earlier. Here you can note the familiar line breaks, along with the sweet imagery conveyed.
I Have a Love Affair:
I am in love:
I love the stars in the sky,
I love how sparkling and translucent they are;
the world doesn't have these deities.
In the chilly winter dusk,
in the lonely gray dawn,
on the sea, on a hilltop after a storm,
it always has one--or so many stars!
The intimacy of the grass and flowers by a mountain stream,
the elation of a small child on a tall building,
the traveler's lantern and compass--
a spirit that twinkles absolutely inside and out!
I have a broken soul,
like a pile of broken crystal.
Walking on the wild, wilted grass,
my politeness takes you in for a second.
I had once tasted and put up with
life's violent ice and tender tendencies.
Sometimes, under stairs made of bricks, a cricket's autumn cry
attracts my sadness, forcing me to wither in tears.
I expose my honest heart;
offering love with a daily star.
No matter if life is fantasy or the truth,
or if this planet exists or is destroyed,
the sky will always have a star that never goes dark!
From my tomb,
I turn towards the sun,
filled with fog and tears,
blanched by the dim smog.
My eternal slumber
slowly sinks me into oblivion,
but I still want to know.
I hear my friends' footsteps,
and hope that they brought
fresh flowers for my lonely stone.
Actually, the flowers they hold
in their arms
show off dark ashes,
and they aren't prepared to represent
my dreams from before--
they cannot open their mouths,
nor imagine beauty's next incarnation.
they sing to those who go on living;
delicate pedals drift along
and quietly kiss innocent lovers.
But today, my friends only could
in the quiet cemetery
and look at the polluted gardens.
If I speak for the dead, I must leave
this animal of my body,
I must write the same poem over and over,
for an empty page is the white flag of their surrender.
If I speak for them, I must walk on the edge
of myself, I must live as a blind man
who runs through rooms without
touching the furniture.
Yes, I live. I can cross the streets asking “What year is it?”
I can dance in my sleep and laugh
in front of the mirror.
Even sleep is a prayer, Lord,
I will praise your madness, and
in a language not mine, speak
of music that wakes us, music
in which we move. For whatever I say
is a kind of petition, and the darkest
days must I praise.
Time swallows innocents into its depths,
like how a river embraces its own fish.
But when I quietly wade in the left bank,
I see you happily dancing--
always spinning, always spinning.
Restless years makes me dissolve like feathers,
but you--you just want to find more peaches.
In a moment, your seed-shaped face becomes introverted,
and your eyes are deep pools--
those I cannot enter, and from which
I cannot bear to drink a little bit from.
So, I treasure the phenomenon of metamorphosis--
I become the embodiment of wisdom.
However, I miss that eternal youth,
where I dressed like cherry blossoms in full bloom,
and opened a little bit of happiness.
I hold a heavy heart.
My piercings, my blood, my etchings,
My story, my life, my strengths and weaknesses
Behind the impregnable shield of secrecy.
I have confessed to so many people before,
While dancing on the street,
Yet I never understand what their biases are.
They pretend to hear what I try to say,
But they pass by, knowing what I have done from somewhere else.
I speak of similar veins—of sadness, of misery,
Of tears and blood,
Of ambiguities and fine lines and red lines.
Every story wraps around my heart,
Repressing its beat with every bloodied string.
It’s almost as if all my sins decided to turn on me—
Killing me from the inside out,
Drowning me to the furthest depths of the ocean,
Even to which the fishes decide to not rest,
Even where hell cannot overcome.
And now, I have it here for you, my secret.
I don’t ask for your forgiveness, if you’ve been involved.
I don’t even ask for you to exonerate me before others.
I ask for your understanding, your willingness to listen to the other side of so many stories.
I want to know if I can live with my sins, tattooed on my soul like the real ones around my ribs.
And, if I have the time and energy, let me find a way
To purge them--to make a new life for myself so I can erase this from my consciousness.
So, now I told you my secret—the secret that cannot be told…
Promise me you will hide it,
And take it to the earth and sky.
Postcards from once upon a time
were bedewed by the spring rain,
and I can't understand
your best sentences now.
When you headed towards the journey,
you finally forgot yesterday's farewell--
piled up twice,
and left behind in the classroom.
Painted memories hurt my mind
just like a knife would cut my tiny fingertips.
You passed through the carefree ocean,
and through a city filled with people,
but your footsteps
mark you as a wanderer.
Your incomplete self
relies on the breeze to call you,
so that he may drown in the ecstasy of fantasy.
This brilliant century
cannot return yesterday's answers
a thousand colorful paper cranes
still line up alongside the windowsill,
quietly waiting for the day you return.
I couldn't help but dream of
a little girl dressed in pink--
she always leaves quickly
to find you again.
My rainbow is my weapon;
it lets me bloom freely.
But when the summer wilts,
I discover that I could only be a worm.
I fly back and forth,
my heart singing my own songs,
and trying to find my own words.
In the deep blue skies,
I try to dance
as the moonlight follows me.
But in a brief moment,
my beautiful gift
is a road towards prostitution.
They take my wings
and pick them off like spring daisies,
silver silk floating towards the earth.
I remember my friends who live in the greenhouse,
their only friends are secret lovers.
But when they make love,
they are besieged by the fragrance,
and unconsciously long for that kind of love.
I cannot bear to continue living
in this artificial intimacy.
Oh, if I could reincarnate,
I would be reborn as a seagull,
to surpass all humanity,
to fly towards the seashore...
Il pluie seulement
Parce que j'ai oublié chanter.
Je me perds mon bateau
Aux autres avenues en mains,
Et je cours en circles
Et puis ellipses
Dans la gallérie sans de couleur.
Le temps cassé,
C'est un café que existe seulement dans un carte postale;
Mon rêve en vanille
A dissolue comme du suc.
Et le rendez-vous que tu m'a donné,
C'est la framboise meurent--
Elle est devant la fenêtre
Je voudrais seulement
Dormir à la plage,
Avec le dos saline
Et du cheveux en ficelle.
Je vogue saoule à chez moi,
Attend pour tes mains
It only rains
because I forgot to sing.
I lost my boat
in a sea of others' hands,
and I run in circles,
and then in ellipses,
in a colorless gallery.
is a café that only exists in a postcard;
my vanilla dream
dissolves like sugar.
And the rendez-vous you took me on
is a dead raspberry;
it sleeps, sleeps
in front of the window.
I only would like to
sleep on the beach,
with a salty back
and hair made of string.
I vogue drunkenly in my place,
waiting for hands to
An old, copper clock
the space between ideals and reality;
a garden of plum blossoms
a lonely island, always crying.
A pair of fine hands
and to surpass the indifferent country.
But faraway hearsay
blows a winter wind;
makes bright red wounds
are busy picking honeysuckle;
their friends are the white clouds,
modernity melts into red ones.
the dead writes poetry again,
and the old clock stops too.
The person who is hostile to the moon and stars
isn't me, of course.
I love you.
And who loves you?
To love is too excessive.
How could I, who has finished speaking,
against the strong morning wind,
horizontal with the moon？
Just as I don't need to exploit the universe's possibilities,
I just need the impossibility of working and living peacefully on Earth.
Outside all freedom is my own--
I don't want a freedom without mystique.
The moon and the stars owe it to the dust;
this can't be a joke--dust.
I still understand some dusty dreams of Apsara;
I was the dust leader of Earth.
No need to vote, hurried leaves
and tax jobs.
I love you, but I'm with a low-quality God,
without the heart to admire the moon.
One quirk of the Chinese language is how they use numbers as puns. You may know that the number four is unlucky because 四 (fourth) tone has the same pronunciation as 死 (third tone)–death. On the contrast. the number 9 is lucky because 九 (third tone) has the same prononciation as 久–for a long time.
When you put those numbers together, you get a funny number of puns and commentary. A simple one is 88, which sounds like 拜拜–bye!
Although the date has passed, I wanted to do something special for 520, or 20 May. It’s an unofficial holiday about love–520 (wu3er4ba1) sounds like 我爱你 (wo3ai4ni3): I love you!
I call for you from the edge of the dreamworld;
my skin glistens like stones in the rain.
But my hopes hang on a thread--
they're on a ship in a hurricane,
quietly searching for a lighthouse.
Your profile slowly comes,
but I don't have time to think about whether you're real--
I'm quickly going blind.
Raw honey doesn't make me full;
my lips, once sealed, lack for a kiss.
Although I will turn around today,
I struggle to leave
the lotus I'm comfortable in.
When I walk on these thorns,
I cannot hear you following me.
Do you really know I've been waiting for you?
I forgot the kisses of the summer wind--
every time when I'm engrossed in its dance,
I feel like I blend in with the fireflies,
realizing I don't have time to heal myself.
I forgot what color the sun was--
the dreams of bright yellow lemons
do not allow me to search for the warmth
on the other shore.
I dream of escaping this diseased country,
a place where the quickly rotting spring follows me,
and flying to the vast harbor.
On the docks, I smell of roses,
and refuse to give up the sails,
so that I may banish these demons underwater--
where not even mermaids can attract them.
I was once a bride; at midnight,
the threads of my dress
turn into vipers which slowly choke me.
Tomorrow, I stand on that old dock,
yearning for rosy clouds to protect me, like a naked orphan would.
The city can look at me,
but I can't look at myself;
tomorrow is just a sheet of paper.
The soft-hearted girl
cries orange-colored ink
inside her leather jacket.
Under the wilted pear tree,
petals scatter around;
they cannot help but dance.
Although honey rains on her,
the duplicate sun
makes her face shine,
the bees she wanted to find
besiege the flower, once in full bloom;
and her crystal heart
the rotting pears.
Her fate no longer relies on
those birds who stealthily go away;
she must turn the daisies in her heart
so that she my find herself again
in a honeycomb.
I weave my hands through your hair--
reveled in rosemary, smelling of lavender.
Once-tightened braids unfurl themselves
silk ribbons undoing an engagement dress.
My fingertips catch your cheeks,
drawing maps with your scars,
and traverse through rocky coasts,
so I may find a sliver of shelter
on goldenrod sands.
There, the warm breeze mocks
my inhibitions, blackberry bushes
which I carried as an offering.
My hands tingle with every thorn
picked out of my palms,
fidgeting as I offer my finest fruit for you.
My smile cracks with the dawn,
a sliver of moon in my teeth,
and I bubble from my blood,
like champagne being opened.
A single kiss ignites my driftwood--
the muse drives through the shoreline
and slices her words through my lungs.
They slither through miles of sand,
dancing through a lost wind,
until they meet your gaze,
where they bloom violently.
My name is just a little bit of sea salt--
it makes me continue swimming,
and also carves through my vanity,
a bright red tattoo.
My existence hangs by a thread--
even though the flowerpot already broke,
the wilted chrysanthemums in my hands
and refused to rot.
A fragile will is
a sailboat made from
my mother's olive trees,
unable to escape
the summer typhoon.
A million songs accompany me
as I sail across the river to the netherworld;
the singers do not know that I've
sacrificed the youth in one's life,
like feeding ducklings the last bits of rice.
The princess of the underworld calls my name,
and I would change my tune,
paying with all my consciousness.
My palm reveals a vacancy;
the cherries it had yearned for
were already given to other children.
The pomegranate she feeds me
slowly excites my lips,
and quietly makes them summon my ghosts--
I have no time to wash my past clean.
If, one day, God wants to judge me,
then let him come see me,
but make him come
incarnate as a sparrow.
Les hommes avancent sans te voir
– pâles Lazares qu’échine le froid –
et l’oeil des femmes est comme un clou
Etrangère! Tu ne passeras pas indemne
ce seuil amer où glissent des ombres
sur les façades coloriées:
toute mue s’éprouve à douleur,
blesse qui même
The men advance without looking at you--
pale Lazaruses who put great effort in the cold,
and the women's eye is like a nail.
Stranger! You will not pass unharmed,
this bitter threshold where shadows glide
under the colored façades;
all transformation shows that sorrow
hurts the same
as a touch...
Ya que quand mes mains rencontrent
avec les tiennes, j'oublie les silences
que j'ai donné naissance,
mes mots fleurissent
dans un jardin secret,
et je désir toujours, toujours.
Tes bras sont ces baies inconnus;
la lune enceinte sait seulement
où on peut trouver des fraises.
Tu m'a donné les chansons
que ma mère a chantée;
en la coquille;
tu écoutes du paradise;
mais tu restes ici;
avec moi, en larmes.
Tu te coiffes te cheveux blondes,
brulent comme un soleil nouveau
et laissent seulement des étincelles.
Ces blessures bénis
sont plus belles que ces baies,
que tu a oubliée manger,
Only when my hands meet yours,
do I forget the silences I've given birth to;
my words bloom
in a secret garden,
and I always yearn, always yearn.
Your arms are those unknown bays,
only the moon knows where
we can find strawberries.
You gave me songs
that my mother had sung;
in a seashell,
you listen to heaven,
but you stay here
with me, in tears.
You brush your blonde hair,
burning like a new sun,
leaving only sparks in their wake,
These blessed wounds
are more beautiful than these berries
that you've forgotten to eat,
Find me in the ancient wheat fields--
nobody would ever think
a pair of lovers would
capture each other, before
using their tiny, tiny scars
to pass through that glimmering elsewhere.
Our kind of embrace
doesn't let the frigid wind
enter your mind; your hair
will only hide your eyes--
a pair of wells
where I find pure silver fish.
After flipping a coin,
the angels in the red sunset don't matter.
Your hands respond to my needs
as the swans fly towards us,
and we begin to change.
On the day we embraced under the cherry blossoms,
you asked me what keeps me alive.
As we rocked back and forth,
as a lonely willow tree would dance,
I tell you my truest wish.
I want to paint a group of rosy clouds,
to fly in the starry skies,
and to laugh along with the immortals.
And when you smell my hair, with the scent of pomegranates,
I whisper that I want to invite all my friends
and drink pure, sweet wine together.
I feel you kissing me,
scattered and full of cinnamon,
but oh! I forgot to say,
forgot to say...
Nowadays, I cry with the cherry blossoms;
we've forgotten that the sun rose again.
You've decided to fly with the butterflies,
with gossip waiting for you at the other side.
Although the will of God forbids me to die,
my heart softly sings requiems.
I dream of dressing in an angel's dress,
but it won't help a broken-hearted girl
to surpass the burdens of love,
a rose garden at winter.
A nos pieds ce chaos de règnes,
le temps tassé sous l’opulence des dômes
et l’infernal fracas
là-bas, je sais qu’un fleuve
charrie les soleils et la boue
sous un pont criblé d’anges
– mais qu’ai-je à faire de l’éternel
Rejoindre, plus haut que l’air
cette noire poudre d’ailes
At our feet, this chaos of reigns,
the packed time underneath the domes' opulence
and the infernal roar
over there, I know that a river
carries the suns and mud
under a bridge riddled with angels,
but what do I have to do for the eternal?
To reach higher than the air,
this dark powder of migrant
In your deeply ingrained love
Another day passes,
And it makes me say,
"This is excellent, this is excellent".
Let me read aloud "Love Me, Yanwa",
And never let me stop any of my poetic activity.
I talk of death because I still live.
I continually talk about death because I don't stop living--
I say, to live is to love; after dying, you can't not love.
Everyday, I immerse myself in a grand illusion.
The weather is really bad; I closely follow the concentrated rain,
Going out of dark clouds again with the sun after rain,
I found this green bench in front of your dormitory block.
The schoolyard before summer vacation is suitable for recollection--
At noon on June 27, you read out your own poetry,
Every sound are flowers blooming and wilting.
And today, now, at noon
On an empty and white green bench,
A sound, Yan Wa, you go into the classroom again to silently read Russian.
Therefore, I miss the Russian wind and snow, all along the land.
Yesenin, who always sings about the countryside,
He says finding the hometown is a victory.
And you, Yanwa, Yanwa,
You are always my hometown, never returning.
You may have noticed that even though I said this would be a blog for my French and Chinese poetry, I posted Chinese content. It’s because I have a stronger hold on the language; I could speak it at a higher-intermediate level versus a mere beginning level for French.
This time, I’m translating one of my poems into French for feedback. I was inspired by music about water and wanted to write my take on such a journey. The Mont-Saint-Michel also provided a source of inspiration because it resembled a safe place to end the journey.
Bien que au debout, j’ai dit que mon blog est pour mes poesies et traductions français et chinois, mais tout le content sont sur des poesies chinoises. C’est parce que mon chinois est mieux que mon français–je peux parler chinoise dans de niveau intermédiaire supérieur, mais mon français est plus simple.
Mais pour cette poème, je vais traditeur en français pour autres m’aider. J’ai écoute deux chansons en l’eaux et j’ai vu écrire un voyage. Le Mont-Saint-Michel est aussi du symbol pour un sanctuaire.
The leaden waters invite me--
wrapping me in a blanket
for the lost children,
into a kingdom of seaweed and songs.
The currents spin around my waist--
a hurricane emerging from the depths,
as an avant-garde dress
bubbling, tickling my legs
with its embrace.
I take a deep breath,
but I only exhale a campfire's remains.
Quicksand quickly betrays me,
a thread severed
to liberate the penitent.
Stretching my hands,
I fiddle for hands to anchor me--
they don't stop my journey.
They whistle a banshee's song,
a last call for divine intervention.
Between heaven and earth
is a temple of granite;
the grainy watchtowers
are only perches
for the pigeons
to gather breadcrumbs.
The sound of angels are lost
to the breaking waves;
a psalm with scattered notes,
clashed with gunfire
for a nascent god.
And I still believed.
I still believed
that an island will wait for me,
lined with coral hibiscus
and palm trees.
I sought faith
out on the rocks,
where mosses glow and grow--
I become a wanderer,
a melting lantern seeking for the dawn,
turning into the salt of the sea
as I am stripped bare again.
L’eaux lourds m’invitent,
Qu'ils enveloppent moi dans une couverture,
Dans un royaume des algues et chansons.
Les courants tournent autour de ma taille,
Un ouragan qu’émerge des profondeurs,
Comme une robe avant-garde que bouillonne,
Que chatouille mes jambes avec son étreinte.
Je prends une profonde inspiration,
Mais j'expire seulement des restes du feu de camp.
Les sables mourants traient-moi rapidement,
Un fils qu’a coupé pour la libération des pénitents.
Je m'étire mes mains,
Et bricole pour mains ancrer-moi--
Ils n'arrentent mon voyage.
Ils sifflent une chanson de la banshee,
Un appel dernier pour l'intervention divine.
Entre le ciel et la terre est un temple en granite ;
Les tours de guet granuleux sont seulement perchoirs
Pour les pigeons
Ramasser des miettes de pain.
Les bruits des anges ont perdu dans les vagues,
Un psaume avec des notes éparpilles,
Qu'a affronté avec coups de feu
Pour un dieu naissent.
Et j’ai cru encore.
Et j’ai cru encore
Qu'une île m’attendra,
Qu'ont recouvre avec des hibiscus corail
Et des palmiers.
J’ai trouvé des convictions
Dans les pierres ;
Où les mousses grandissent et luisent.
Je suis devenu plutôt vagabond,
Une lanterne fondante que cherche pour l’aurore,
Que transforme du sel de mer
Quand je suis déshabillé encore.
The shape inside the pocket
is that of an old iron knife--
my watercolor eyes
face the dawn's corpse,
buried under a tangerine tree.
Friends who have lost hope
slowly vanish in blooming cherry blossoms,
with no time to think about
where the other shore actually is;
the vagrant gods moved this island
to the pastel equinox.
And I cannot escape
the tender hands of history;
even though I'm the daughter who uses the knife,
I remain on the other side of the mirror,
making friends with wisteria in full bloom.
While I was trying to find Hebrew poetry, I stumbled upon the website lyrikline.org. There, they have poems from many different languages; in some of them, you could actually hear the poet read their own work.
There’s obviously Mandarin Chinese poetry in it; one of the featured authors is Bei Dao, who currently lives in Hong Kong. His poetry, which I’ve delved into through the past year, is part of the 朦胧 (meng2long2) “Misty” generation–which focuses on realism, but with enigmatic language. After reading this piece, I figured I might translate it here for you.
Distilled images from a dream
abandon a flag on the horizon.
The pond has become bright;
the laughing sounds of the missing
make it clear: pain
is a lotus flower's shout.
turns into straw pulp, turning into
paper, that winter
which heals written wounds.
Spring--this magazine publishes
many peach blossoms at home,
and we have to lie low.
The peach blossoms' ringing
now press us for payment.
At home, the sun holds power in its hands,
and orders this printing press, the spring breeze
to print an upside down image of a cow's ghost,
and to print a miniature of a chasing bee from many years ago.
And we have to lie low;
the only things we're able to publish are our sorrowful faces.
We once stopped exploring after we had our fill;
nowadays, we first have a sense of remoteness in sorrow.
In our hometown, I am compatible with Chang'e--
it's the local specialty in my poems,
it's me flying to the moon with her,
in thousand-year-old legends,
people forget me so thoroughly.
Your innocence drives me crazy,
and your eyes are valuable like diamonds,
always searching for the moon.
At night, when the fog wraps around us,
you always spin, always spin；
your dress quietly giving off light.
In a minute, it could catch fire.
Your tenderness makes my face want to break,
and the tears I've hidden transform into rivers,
drifting towards a faraway harbor
where a sea of people wait for a peace treaty.
When the soldiers sail towards hell,
their bloodied love letters
will fly across the broken valleys
before scattering on the streets with leaves.
You are under the cherry blossoms, a beautiful woman forbidding me to go,
your hands invite me to come and dance together again.
Your lips bloom like plum blossoms,
yet you don't let yourself to say goodbye courageously.
The frigid winds call my name,
and the storm quickly arrives,
but if I can return home,
all of me will be yours.
Love is like a punctured lung--
it takes away your oxygen.
And in your darkness,
your delirium protects you,
always singing songs from childhood.
You sit on a cliff inside your heart,
the mountain winds changing your direction
as a pair of herons overcome winter.
You play the guqin, your eyes twinkling,
but when you open your mouth,
searching for the words,
you can't help but sob
in tears made of honey.
You always climb there like a monk,
busy repenting during the day,
painting memories of the past.
Your other shore is just
a dying cherry tree--
others defiled the fruit,
so that their loved ones may not wither.
So if you tell me, "I love you,"
please take my hands
and return the oxygen to me.
I pray this reality is like clear water;
the salve for my youth
stays on my palms
like yesterday's poison.
Jerusalem is only
a wavering bridge.
Priests born out of milk
stay up all night,
mindlessly burning incense--
too busy repenting,
they don't see the wilderness of people.
Although my hands read the Western Wall,
my heart is mute.
My mind flies around,
never longing for a pomegranate's sustenance,
but yesterday's echoes
render me silent.
Oh, this city which saw so much,
do not burn the forest of olive trees--
a pair of hands, cut by wheat,
only wants a cup of holy wine.
1984: Written For Ivanka
Idiocy brings the night,
while the underworld brings the dawn.
These attitudes are so messy,
with no values to speak of.
This poem also brings a state of chaos;
how could it be balanced again?
Trump's family and
their small, pitiful team
are corrected by the mainstream media.
After a rough and brutish four years
they are all finally sealed up.
I want to help your
If you read Kafka,
then you must certainly know.
quickly overtakes mine;
your father's loneliness
quickly overtakes mine also.
Ay--I'm really sorry.
I'm seen as a
pitiful gentleman from a dying country.
The scenery of my country
already lost thousands of years.
I want an army, but don't have one.
I want provisions, but don't have any.
Nowadays, I can only
hold a broken cell phone
and worry helplessly.
Oh, pitiful Ivanka--
if you read Kafka…
No, no no--
if you read Orwell,
Darkness brings idiocy,
while the dawn brings about the underworld.
These attitudes are so messy,
with no values to speak of.
Picture: Alternative Ivanka II by me (Elda Mengisto). Charcoal and colored pencil and sketch paper, 2017
I was rejected at birth, nestled in the arms of death—
My mother was heaven, and my father the earth.
The sun smiled at me as I woke up in the forest,
Clothed in a blanket and crowned with dead wildflowers.
The summer warmth raised me in the years to come,
Melting the blue on my fingertips and the ice on my lips.
Yet it also unveiled my heart, cracked by rocks and time;
With daggers piercing my shield, many thoughts are revealed.
Witnesses to my existence mock my elusiveness,
A virginal soul enduring in the woods.
Yet I was whored out by nature herself,
Decayed by the fall and devoured by vultures.
I seek wings which I could fly to a place where my soul could rest,
Against the winter winds, against the snipes of gnashing teeth.
As the scent of roses leaves me, I cry seeking for the sun,
For there is no God, only birds.
I don't want to ask you for golden coins,
nor to praise me with your poetic verse.
Mercy and reality are like the Milky Way and the sea--
when they reconcile, they destroy each other.
I've already sold myself in an empire of fog,
clothed in purple gift wrap, while carrying roses from spring.
But I've already been crucified a million times;
every time, it steals my breath away.
Only when I can shout out for my enemies
could I overturn their dignity.
In order to resurrect, a phoenix sublimates in rosy clouds;
in order to be born, a star explodes in its own gravity.
But a soul entering oblivion
makes me lose the stars in my eyes--
how can I continue, and bloom in an indifferent forest?
When the sun rises again,
I just want to chase the sparks,
so that the grasslands may burn,
so that I can dance in the smoke. --31 December 2018
I haven’t been on a beach for a while, partially because of the pandemic and because I haven’t gotten the chance to do so. I always liked the imagery of them; when I was younger, I loved to collect rocks and shells from there.
Chun Yu dedicates 《寻贝-Ocean Beach》 to the titular Ocean Beach in San Francisco. Despite going there twice, I never went to that specific place, but I’d imagine it is pretty. She lives there after moving from China to pursue a career in the sciences; Chun only started writing when she became a post-doctorate fellow.
Her best known book is Little Green: Growing Up in the Chinese Revolution, but she also does other projects, like anthologies, a poetry collection between Chinese Americans and African Americans alike, and even does some poetry herself! One of these, 《地图》 (Map), can be found here.
This beach on the other shore,
the sunken place where I've traveled the sea for,
gave the sea a name--
the ends of the Americas
which stretch out endlessly.
I've heard this ocean
would sometimes toss out
sprinkling across her
Even with fragments of uncertainty,
and a lot of people collecting shells,
I'm not filled with hope,
but I have a little bit, hopefully
bending down to look.
And as the storm on the sea dies out,
an exquisite sand dollar,
or maybe one already smashed into pieces.
They dimly drift
with no way to reunite.
When I've depleted
my mind and vision,
I accidentally raise my head up,
and look at the endless ocean.
But looking at the splashing fountain,
a whale's giant black back
emerges above the sea--
a burden on the body
but filled with strength.
In a day, it raises
the entire sea,
all to bubble forward.
A few years ago, my Chinese 401 class and I had to read a short story called 《取暖》 (To Warm Oneself). It’s about a young man who committed a crime and it imbues on him when he returns home for the Lunar New Year. It also covers his time in prison.
That form of isolation inspired me to write this poem in 2016-2017, but under different circumstances. This is probably one of my favorites I have written thus far.
Standing on the lonely road,
I pray that I will be freed from my destiny
and that my beloved will finally forgive me.
I should've left
when the first snow of the season started falling,
but nowadays, the me who returns is not a hero,
but one holding a broken soul.
Tonight, I think about what it means to be a hero--
I thought it was holding a sword,
traveling to the ends of the earth, and saving many lives.
Actually, that challenge
was as dark as the winter solstice.
And returning home? It's not an honor,
but an appointment--
my mother cannot bear to heal my scarred face;
my father tells me I'm just a helpless wanderer.
The wind blows again, a melody not forgotten,
yet so brutal. A fairy stands alone
on a faraway island, filled with mountain flowers,
but she has no time to bestow sunlight on me.
The snow continues to fall, the cars continue to drift,
but who would waste time to warm me, oh so fragile?
I asked the white clouds, before praying again.
If you’ve ever read “The Divine Comedy”, you would know the character of Beatrice. She accompanies Dante as he moves out of Purgatory and into Heaven, along with acting as his muse. Researchers have debated on whom inspired him, but there isn’t a clear conclusion on who it is. They’ve came to a relative consensus, however, on Beatrice Portinari. Their relationship was a bit fragile, as they only met twice, but it gave Dante such a longing that it inspired him, such as with “La Vita Nuova“.
I’ve read The Divine Comedy in high school, but I don’t remember much of it. This doesn’t mean I didn’t use Beatrice’s figure as a muse in these two poems–one in English, the other in Mandarin. If she’s the embodiment of goodness, then what would that mean for us?
The waves beckon me afar--
a siren song smothered；
the bridge between myself
is a tightrope made of spun sugar.
The sand wraps my ankles
as ivy grows on a maple,
and compels me
to submerge in millennia
of bleeding transitions.
I fantasize of a mermaid,
her fingers on my toes,
challenging me to come to the depths
where opals dissolve.
But Beatrice calls
and I acquise.
Wrapping myself in the humid wind,
I swirl in the musky evening,
to prepare myself for the terror.
fall from the red sunlight;
they bloom again
in the palm of your hand.
You harvested lotuses
that never wither in marshlands;
swans fly towards
a faraway horizon.
You have given up
all those sunny years,
and forgotten the dawn's warmth,
so that you may pretend to be a courageous wanderer.
But in a blink of an eye,
Beatrice calls you--
dressed in moonlight,
she holds a valuable sword,
Even a kaleidoscope
cannot control the day's rule;
the never-ending dynasty
waits for solider to face it.
But I've already escaped
the longing for dawn;
the azure skies opened for me
the entire world,
the ocean's abyss.
I've banished the sapphires
that I have inherited;
step by step, the horizon is just a silver wire.
I learned how to smile again,
and learned how to protect my own fire,
a gift from the spring sun.
After flipping a coin,
I discovered my own compass,
but I have to read its journey.
So, I've finally decided to change.
transparent cherry blossoms
and blowing into
my open palms.
Although I can hear a nightingale's song,
my heart unconsciously
dances a waltz.
Cinderella's dream has already passed--
I, with dew drops in hair,
has finally become a woman.
I ride a white cloud
with swans flying homeward;
I am Venus resurrected
on a bright and sunny day.
make me write poems again;
even last night's moaning
is like a symphony.
A pair of azure eyes
frequently haunts my desires--
I cannot find the one who stares at me.
Midnight surpasses the lovers' yearning
and comforts the suicidal poets;
the kaleidoscope I hold in my hands
is muddled by my melancholy.
Their triangular mirrors
unconsciously reveal black and white places;
they smell like fresh peonies,
yet cannot see where the dawn is.
I pray alongside the candles;
the tobacco sanctifying my speech--
when I used my blood to paint
the way home.
I cry like this--
although tears only
beget the stars' fragments,
the screams in my mind
are endless song lyrics.
They gradually release
pure white jasmines,
but their beauty
will never belong to me.
We keep running and yearning for better things in life, but we struggle through a bunch of things in life, such as this unfortunate year.
One thing that came out of it for me is a four-part poem, which started out as a single one called 《半夜》(Midnight). The order I’m posting it over the next few days reflects the transition from despair to hope However, you can start at anytime of the day, so that you could see how things work in a cycle.
I use the dying sunset as makeup,
painting a clumsy image.
The egg-shaped face
faces the rosy light,
but only discovers the soul's darkness,
where even the plum blossoms cannot persist.
Although I gave utopia a kiss,
my heart only yearns for
those years with continuous rain.
My wine red lips shine for you;
when I stand at the horizon.
then we could
embrace on a lonely hill.
Using a kaleidoscope to look at the sunset,
I thought I could see
your drifting side profile.
I only discover a blood red wave;
it wants to take me away,
as if I was the only ship out on the sea.
We learned how to swim in the sea, often making friends with the little fish and facing those famished sharks whose teeth cry out for meat. However, we never saw a sea of people; when we ran towards the square, we got lost again in our secret rooms and muddled dreams.
Although I finally feel your hand, not even a slither of tenderness exists anymore. Your temperature quickly drops, your bones pierce my palms when I try to patch up my lungs. Although you clearly see my eyes, I can only see through your face; the colors change suddenly into an eternal azure.
However, I have fallen into a lake of peony pedals; I remember their beauty, yet I wouldn’t think that my hunter could find me there when we will both drown, unconsciously sharing our last moments with each other.
If you survive, please bury my body in a garden filled with sunshine. In my homeland, where it is spring-like all year, maybe the bees will create a honeycomb from my heart, because the sea’s scent will not follow me, as I sacrificed myself, time and time again, so that I could escape from a prison scented like oranges.
I know that one day, we will all die alone, holding ourselves while waiting to meet with our family and friends. The waves will take our washed corpses and present them to an audience of gods, so that the dawn tomorrow will not ask for us.
I didn’t think that the end of the world would be so silent; I only hear the seagulls call out for the nameless clouds slowly sublimating into red. I think about the lemons of my hometown, but their scent is like a dream– although beauty inevitably disappears, I want to chase for it forever, this golden brilliance– isn’t one lifetime enough?
Between the broken lights, why don’t we reach out for the other person’s fingers, and hold each other just once? The devil will use his sword to announce our deaths, when I stand on the drowning beach, at least I’ll know that tenderness exists, if only for a moment.