Poetry


Yangzi 羊子

Translated by Wenyuan Shao


Yangzi is the pen name of Yang Guoqing 杨国庆, of the ancient Qiang ethnic group, whose ancestral home is in Sichuan Province at the epicenter of the massive 2008 earthquake. Yang, the first part of his pen name, means “gazelle,” which is a symbol of the Qiang people, while zi denotes “son.” Most of Yangzi’s poems are based on the history and culture of the Qiang people and their persistence in the face of natural disaster. His notable works include The Miraculous Jiuzhaigou Valley and the poetry collection Qiang of Wenchuan County.

 

The Holy Drum and the Qiang Flute

Dong-dong-dong, dong-dong-dong, dong-dong-dong, dong-dong-dong.
The drum beats pulsate like heart beats in the bosom of the earth and sky;
The drum beats are as fragrant as a sip of wine that intoxicates an entire village;
The drum beats move up and down like life and death that penetrate the soul;
The drum beats are burning like a raging fire that warms one’s loneliness;
The drum beats are flowing like tears that save the ancestors’ progeny;
The drum beats are twinkling like stars that eternalize the life of the ancient Qiang.

Dong-dong-dong, dong-dong-dong, dong-dong-dong, dong-dong-dong.
Heaven sends his regards and deep concerns;
The silent and firm stone house heard it; mountains from every direction heard it;
The fire pit heard it; the shrine heard it; the Gods of White Stone heard it.
In the villages and mountains fed by the water of the Minjiang River,
The Qiang, bright and clear, is a nationality with red blood running within.

Dong-dong-dong, dong-dong-dong, dong-dong-dong, dong-dong-dong.
Migrating spirits chanted the beat; layers of terraced fields bathed in it;
The holy mountains listened attentively; the sacred pagoda delighted in it.
There are rising and falling rhythms, strong and weak beats in each section;
There are life and death; every breath here is in sync with the beat of the drum.
Qiang! Human beings are the continuation of drum beats.
Qiang! Human beings are the breath of drum beats.
Qiang! Human beings become drum beats, flying above the forests and rising into the clouds.

“There is no need to play the sorrowful Willow Tunes on the Qiang flute, because the spring wind
       never passes through the Jade Gate.”
Entering the world of Han language through a shi poem or a ci poem.
“The sound of the Qiang flute is audible in the distance, and frost covers the earth. It is a sleepless
       night; the generals’ hair grows white, and the soldiers weep.”
From Wang Zhihuan in High Tang, to Fan Zhongyan in the Northern Song,
The Qiang flute was recited and imagined in Han language.

A thousand years later, now, among the water and mountains of the Minjiang River,
I luckily survive after the crashing of a thousand winds and waves.
The Qiang flute discovered me, and I saw her, whose appearance I have been thinking of for a
       thousand years;
Her small trim figure was held between the ten bulky fingers of the Qiang people.
Like chopsticks, two pipes were put together side by side with two reeds;
With six holes and seven tones, the sound of the Qiang flute soars as if it were a suona trumpet.
Same quality, same color, same tune, same harmony.
Ah, Qiang! Release the gravity of earth and the piercing cold of night.

Let this nationality play as much as they like, without stop.
The air deeply inhaled is stored in mouths and cheeks,
In the lungs in their breasts.
With lips shut tightly, nostrils wide-open like caves, and eyes dilated and round,
Under the coordination of ring, middle, and index fingers of both hands,
The air firmly passes through the double pipes and reeds, in a gentle and smooth way.
Like the Minjiang River running across mountains, civilized by the Dujiangyan Dam,
The Qiang flute, performing the sadness of flying black rain, the pathos of life.

It is the only woodwind in the world, and, unexpectedly, this is a fitting description;
Bearing the weight of all temperaments and personalities that this nationality has
       internalized and tolerated.
I cannot help but cry a flood of tears.
The blowing, the sound, the tune, the melody, and the rebirth after suicide by cutting one’s throat.
Because of you, my heartbeats accelerate, breaths quicken, and an agitated star traverses the
       bottom of my heart;
Because of you, a riddle existed a thousand years, a black aria that is impossible to forget!
Qiang flute, playing day and night, pour out your heart to reach the unparalleled height of
       human emotions;
Qiang flute, I know you have to let it out;
Play and release the deepest desperation in this world.

 

神鼓与羌笛

咚咚咚,咚咚咚,咚咚咚,咚咚咚,
心脏一样跳动的鼓声响彻天地的胸膛。
咂酒一样芬芳的鼓声陶醉了村庄。
生死一样起落的鼓声穿透了心灵。
烈火一样燃烧的鼓声温暖了孤独。
泪水一样奔流的鼓声拯救了祖先的后裔。
星辰一样闪烁的鼓声永恒了古羌的生命。

咚咚咚,咚咚咚,咚咚咚,咚咚咚,
默然挺拔的羌碉听过,四面群山听过,
这来自上天的问候和深刻的牵挂。
火塘听过,神龛听过,白石神灵听过,
岷的江和山喂养着怀抱中的村庄。羌。
郎朗的,一个民族红红的血液在奔流。

咚咚咚,咚咚咚,咚咚咚,咚咚咚,
迁徙的灵魂吟诵过,层层的梯田沐浴过,
神山倾听过,祭祀塔享用过。
每一段的节奏起起落落,有强有弱,
有生有死,抑或就是这里所有呼吸的一种暗合。
人是鼓声的一种延续。羌。
人是鼓声的一种气息。羌。
人成了鼓声,漫过森林,飞上云天。羌。

“羌笛何须怨杨柳,春风不度玉门关。”
从一首诗,或者一阕词走进汉语的世界。
“羌管幽幽霜满地,人不寐,将军白发征夫泪。”
从盛唐的王之涣开始,经过北宋的范仲淹,羌笛,
被汉语朗诵,被汉语想象。

千年以后的现在,在岷的江和山之中,
我被千层的风浪翻卷之后,幸运地活着。
羌笛看见我的同时,我看见了曾经思慕她千年的模样。
娇小的身材,被羌人粗大的十指轻轻地簇拥,
筷子似的并排在一起的双管,双管双簧,
六孔七音,唢呐一般向前直吹,
一样的体量,一样的色泽,一样的腔调,一样的相容。
啊羌,释放出大地的沉重和寒夜的刺骨。

让这个民族尽情地吹吧。一口不息地吹。
把深深吸进去的气,囤在口腔之中,腮帮之中,
囤在胸膛的肺部之中。
紧闭双唇,洞开双鼻,鼓睁双眼,
细细匀匀地,让这气流狠狠地穿过双簧双管,
在两手的无名指,中指和食指的调和之下,
犹如奔腾的岷江出山,接受都江堰教化。羌笛,
演绎黑雨纷飞的忧伤、生命的悲怆。

这是世间独一的吹奏,居然,十分恰当啊,
承载着一个民族内化隐忍的全部性情和人格力量。
情不自禁,叫我泪雨横飞。
这吹。这音。这调。这曲。这吞刀自尽的绝地重生。
因为你,我心跳加快、呼吸急促,内心划过慌乱的星辰。
因为你这千古的谜语,无法释怀的黑色咏叹!
羌笛。日夜倾诉人类情感的另类巅峰,
我知道不吐不快,羌笛。
把世上最彻底的绝望都吹放出来。

 

 

 

 

From Chinese Literature Today Vol. 4 No. 1

Current Issue
March 2011 Issue

Table of Contents

VOLUME 4, NUMBER 1

FEATURED AUTHOR: Ge Fei

  • 6 Ring Flower, by Ge Fei
  • 12 Time in Imagery, by Ge Fei
  • 16 The Psychic Split in Chinese Contemporary Literature: Ge Fei and Zhang Ning in Dialogue, by Zhang Ning
  • 24 Song of Liangzhou, by Ge Fei
  • 29 The Myriad Things Retain Their Mystery for Me, by Jing Wendong

SECTION TWO: Selected Works

  • 32 Reminiscing about My Childhood, by Yang Jiang
  • 36 Five Poems, by Yang Jian

SECTION THREE: New Works on
Chinese Literature

  • 39 Whether to Write Classical or Modern Poems: A Speech Given at the Gulangyu, Xiamen Poetry Festival, by Lü Yue
  • 44 Writers’ Exchange, by Sun Yu and Zhang Ning

SECTION FOUR: 2013 Newman Prize for Chinese Literature: Yang Mu (Guest Editor: Michelle Yeh)

  • 48 Introduction to the Newman Prize
  • 50 The Newman Prize for Chinese Literature: Nomination Statement for Yang Mu, by Michelle Yeh
  • 54 The Wellsprings of Poetry in Taiwan, by Yang Mu
  • 56 “Imagine a Symbol in a Dream”: Translating Yang Mu, by Andrea Lingenfelter
  • 64 “Language Is Our Religion”: An Interview with Yang Mu, by Zhai Yueqin
  • 69 Selected Poems, by Yang Mu

SECTION FIVE: Special Feature on Chinese Minority Poetry (Guest Editor: Mark Bende)

SECTION SIX: Special Memorial Feature
for C. T. Hsia

IN EVERY ISSUE

  • 3 Editor’s Note
  • 4 Contributors
  • 128 Chinese Literature in Review
  • 156 Pacific Bridge

ON THE COVER Xiao Wu Ji (detail), by
Chen Fei, 2012

 

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