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Paint a Chinese poem
in horse-mane tossing,
seagull gliding strokes
on a scroll of raw silk,
and it is a thing of beauty.
Compose a Chinese poem
in tonal symmetry,
and most sense read between lines,
precious and few,
and it is a work of art.
Declaim a Chinese poem
from a high tower on the Great Wall
to a thousand frontier guards,
who dream of their mistresses
in Nanking and Shanghai,
and it plucks a thousand strings.
Translate a Chinese poem
and print it in Roman characters,
bleed its calligraphy,
expose bare bones of platitude.
The buddleia has lost its scent;
the butterflies are dead.
| I usually (and very selfishly) just enjoy reading the poems you very generously post for us. But I was moved to comment on this because I have spent such painful hours trying to explain exactly what you have so very beautifully described here, to others. You have such a wonderful gift Arthur. I remain one of your greatest fans. jacqueline x||| Posted on 2009-09-19 00:00:00 | by Alter idem | [ Reply to This ] |
The imagery is fabulous. Gripping. I immediately felt a kinship with the idea that an authentic thing of beauty can be "lost in translation" as the common phrase states. I think of my grandfather's Urdu poetry and how it will not affect someone in quite the same way if it were translated into English. But beyond the poetry, there's an understanding on my part that in general, beauty is something to be appreciated in whatever form it comes in. Sometimes, translation is not needed at all. Just the initial connection.
So I'm going to stop translating and appreciate this connection.
|| Posted on 2009-09-14 00:00:00 | by O | [ Reply to This ] |