Essays


Five Poems

Jidi Majia

Jidi Majia

Butuo Lass

It was from the bronze of her complexion
That I first discovered the color of the land around me
That I first discovered the pale yellow tears of the sun
That I first discovered the teeth marks of seasonal winds
That I first discovered the timeless quiet of a glen
 
It was from the touching riddle of her eyes
That I first heard the muted thunder of the highlands
That I first heard dusk push open a wooden door
That I first heard the sweet sigh of a fireplace
That I first heard a watery kiss beneath a headscarf
 
It was from her calm placid forehead
That I first saw twining currents in a storm front
That I first saw lush blooms on a boulder
That I first saw how the moon dreams of her lover
That I first saw a river's pregnancy in April
 
It was from something about her that has faded
That I first felt real sorrow and lonesomeness
But I will never forget the day
In Great Liangshan, on a rainy morning,
A child's first love was taken to faraway places     

 

布拖女郎

就是从她那古铜般的脸上
我第一次发现了那片土地的颜色
我第一次发现了太阳鹅黄色的眼泪
我第一次发现了那季风留下的齿痕
我第一次发现了幽谷永恒的沉默

就是从她那谜一样动人的眼里
我第一次听到了高原隐隐的雷声
我第一次听见了黄昏轻推着木门
我第一次听见了火塘甜蜜的叹息
我第一次听见了头巾下如水的吻

就是从她那安然平静的额前
我第一次看见了远方风暴的缠绵
我第一次看见了岩石盛开着花朵
我第一次看见了梦着情人的月光
我第一次看见了四月怀孕的河流

就是从她那倩影消失的地方
我第一次感到了悲哀和孤独
但我永远不会忘记那一天
在大凉山一个多雨的早晨
一个孩子的初恋被带到了远方


Mother's Hand

—Among the Nuosu, when a mother dies, her body is laid out facing to the right for cremation. People say this leaves her left hand free to keep spinning yarn, even in the spirit-world.
 
In this right-facing pose she goes off to sleep
The sleep of a long river
The sleep of a far-stretching ridgeline
Many people have seen her
Laid out in those places
Whereupon those highland sons and daughters
Go to the shore of an unseen ocean
And when the liquid land subsides
A mermaid remains on the shore
Behind her is a brooding shoal
Where only an ancient song is heard
Holding aloft the purest of crescent moons
 
In this right-facing pose she goes off to sleep
In the clear-aired wind
In a hazy rain-shower
She is enveloped in thin mist
She is enwreathed in white clouds
Whether at tranquil daybreak
Or in bewitching twilight
All else turns to chilled sculpture
Only her left arm floats free
Its skin surely gives off warmth
Its veins surely flow with blood
 
In this right-facing pose she goes off to sleep
How like a mermaid she is
How like a crescent moon
How like a brooding shoal
She sleeps between land and sky
She sleeps on the heights of birth and death
Only thus do rivers keep flowing beneath her
Only thus do forests keep growing beneath her
Only thus do boulders keep standing beneath her
Only thus do my sweet, suffering people
Keep weeping and shouting and singing
 
In this right-facing pose she goes off to sleep
All things in the world will fade away
In the vast vault of heaven
In undying memory
Only her left arm still floats
So tender, so beautiful and free     

 

母亲的手

—彝人的母亲死了,在火葬的时候,她的身子永远是侧向右睡的,听人说那是因为,她还要用自己的左手,到神灵世界去纺线。

就这样向右悄悄地睡去
睡成一条长长的河流
睡成一架绵绵的山脉
许多人都看见了
她睡在那里
于是山的女儿和山的儿子们
便走向那看不见海的岸
岸上有一条美人鱼
当液态的土地沉下去
身后立起一块沉默的礁石
这时独有一支古老的歌曲
拖着一弯最纯洁的月牙

就这样向右悄悄地睡去
在清清的风中
在濛濛的雨里
让淡淡的雾笼罩
让白白的云萦绕
无论是在静静的黎明
还是在迷人的黄昏
一切都成了冰冷的雕像
只有她的左手还漂浮着
皮肤上一定有温度
血管里一定有血流

就这样向右悄悄地睡去
多么像一条美人鱼
多么像一弯纯洁的月牙
多么像一块沉默的礁石
她睡在土地和天空之间
她睡在死亡和生命的高处
因此江河才在她身下照样流着
因此森林才在她身下照样长着
因此山岩才在她身下照样站着
因此我苦难而又甜蜜的民族
才这样哭着,才这样喊着,才这样唱着

就这样向右悄悄地睡去
世间的一切都要消失
在浩瀚的苍穹中
在不死的记忆里
只有她的左手还漂浮着
那么温柔,那么美丽,那么自由


Voice of the Bimo 

—Dedicated to a Nuosu ritualist
 
When you hear it
It seems above all illusion
Like a faint wisp of bluish smoke
Why just now are the ranged mountains
Felt to be filled with a timeless stillness?
Whose voice drifts between men and ghosts?
It seems to have left the body
Yet between reality and nothingness
In tones both human and divine it utters
A praise song for life and death
When it invokes sun, stars, rivers, and ancient heroes
When it summons deities and surreal powers
Departed beings commence their resurrection!     

 

毕摩的声音

—献给彝人中的祭司

你听见它的时候
它就在梦幻之上
如同一缕淡淡的青烟
为什么群山在这样的时候
才充满着永恒的寂静
这是谁的声音?它漂浮在人鬼之间
似乎已经远离了人的躯体
然而它却在真实与虚无中
同时用人和神的口说出了
生命与死亡的赞歌
当它呼喊太阳、星辰、河流和英雄的祖先
召唤神灵与超现实的力量
死去的生命便开始了复活!


Boulders

They bear the faces of the Nuosu people
Who live in the loneliest mountain regions
These seemingly lifeless objects
Swarthy brows scrabbled with traces of eagle talons
When feelings of the years overflow
And pass through all illusory seasons
Unbounded dreams and stray memories
Survey the ageless sky and familiar soil
Only after the sun's fire has kindled them
Can they approach the sleep of death
But who can tell me what human misfortunes
Are contained in all this
 
I have seen many lifeless objects
That bear the faces of the Nuosu people
Century after century of silence
Has done nothing to lighten their agony     


岩石

它们有着彝族人的脸形
生活在群山最孤独的地域
这些似乎没有生命的物体
黝黑的前额爬满了鹰爪的痕迹
( 当岁月漫溢的情感
穿过了所有的虚幻的季节
望着古老的天空和熟悉的大地
无边的梦想,迷离的回忆
只有那阳光燃成的火焰
让它们接近于死亡的睡眠
可是谁又能告诉我呢?
这一切包含了人类的不幸 )

我看见过许多没有生命的物体
它们有着彝族人的脸形
一个世纪又一个世纪的沉默
并没有把他们的痛苦减轻


Deer Whistle

Blow a doe's cry until the buck draws near; this is when death will descend upon him.—Words of a hunter
 
With all my courage I blow the deer whistle
Blow the cry of a mother roe deer
An ocean is condensed in my lungs
Twin rivers run through my nostrils
The whistle notes quaver like waves at twilight
They stir all the sunbeams
With invisible feminine excitation
They float elusively in the warm-toned, golden air
In such a tender, drawn-out thread
Such a long and slender line of verse
It seems mysteriously married
To the soft light
Or perhaps it has put on
A suit of watery clothes
Which can best be felt  
By a male skin
But it is always clear to me
I am a man blowing the whistle
Each tree leaf falls to give me camouflage
Like an un-kept rendezvous I wait
Until even anxiety turns solemn
As my mute rifle stays raised and ready
Aiming at the buck that haltingly draws near
Letting him approach the proximity of deception
And then I pull the trigger
And the buck meets his death
 
When the whistle sound and the gunshot fade away
At that moment I seem to see
A feminine cast in the sunbeams
Transfixing the world with such radiance
I know not why a gust of autumn wind
Would pass over my heart
Bringing a sad arctic chill
I split the whistle with my teeth
And throw it, along with blood from my lip
Into a place no one can see
 
To tell you the truth
I was so close to crying
I wanted to tell a lie
Fearing that my loved ones would know

 

獐哨

吹母獐的声音,公獐将向着我走来,死亡就在这个时候降临了。—— 一个猎人的话

我用全部的勇气吹响獐哨
吹出母獐的声音
我的肺是浓缩的海洋
一个鼻管是长江
还有一个鼻管是黄河
哨音起伏像黄昏时的波浪
掀起好些看不见的
属于母性的阳光
气体是金黄色金黄色的
悄然浮动,那么长长的绵绵的
这样温情纤细的诗行
它好像神秘地嫁给了
那柔软的光
要不就穿上了一件
雄性能用皮肤
去感觉的
如水的衣裳
但我永远明白
我是一个男性的吹哨人
每一片树叶都在为我降落伪装
我像一次误了时的约会那样等待
连焦急也变得神圣
猎枪却默默地长长地伸着
瞄向那只迟迟赶来的公獐
让它走在欺骗的身旁
于是我扣动扳机
公獐迎接了最后的死亡

当我的哨声和枪声消失了
片刻过后我好像又看见许多
母性的阳光
把一个世界照耀得那么的辉煌
不知为什么,我心里骤然掠过
一股深秋的风
像北极的冬天那么悲凉
我把獐哨咬破了
连同嘴唇上的血
甩在了谁也看不见的地方

说实话
那时我有些想哭
还想撒谎
我怕那些爱我的人们知道

Translated by Denis Mair

From Chinese Literature Today Vol. 2 No.2

Current Issue
March 2011 Issue

Volume 2, No. 2

 

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Table of Contents

VOLUME 2, NUMBER 2

FEATURED AUTHOR: YI SHA

CHINESE LITERATURE/GLOBAL CONTEXTS

A GALLERY OF CONTEMPORARY CHINESE POETRY

SPECIAL SECTION: THE LANGUAGE OF TRANSLATION

SPECIAL SECTION: ETHNIC MINORITY POETRY AND POETICS

FEATURED SCHOLAR: YUE DAIYUN

IN EVERY ISSUE

  • Editor's Note
  • Contributors
  • Chinese Literature in Review

ON THE COVER “Hiding in the City – No. 92 Temple of Heaven” by Liu Bolin

BOOK REVIEWS

  • Mo Yan, Frog
  • John A. Crespi, Voices in Revolution: Poetry and the Auditory Imagination in Modern China
  • Yang Lian, The Narrative Poem
  • Li Hui, The Legend of Huang Yongyu
  • Wang Xiaoni, Some Flashes of My Mind
  • Ai Mi, Hawthorn Tree Forever
  • Xi Chuan, Personal Preferences
  • Su Tong, Boat to Redemption
  • Ge Fei, The Fall of the Last Blossom

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