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伊沙长诗《风光无限》英译本(节选)——denis mair译

◎伊沙



Wonders Never Cease  (selections)

yisha

tr.by denis mair


*  *  *
Every time those scenes of Ethiopia
Appear on my T.V.
The way those mothers look
With their children
Weakling that I am
My skin creeps

*  *  *
I hear the rafters have been eaten through
Nothing is left but borers

Only borers are left
Holding up this old mansion

No way you’re taking them away

*  *  *
The professor said: “Certain races
Are less sensitive to pain than others”

This was in my college years
From a lecture on medicine that got off track

Written down in an old blue notebook
Now on the point of being sold for scrap

Leafing through it eight years later
I shudder and decide not to sell it

*  *  *
The moderator spluttered
“You can ridicule anything else
But just don’t ridicule ideals”

I fidgeted and raised my hand
“It’s O.K. not to ridicule ideals
But how can I not ridicule
A symposium about ideals?”

*  *  *
In a huge display case at the exhibition of love
Two skeletons gnaw each other to the bone
From remaining patches of flesh beneath the neck
I make out which one is he
Which is she

*  *  *
My wife Old G likes to help people
Goes to a lot of trouble
Worries that her friends are single
Plays the go between
For all these years
No success story to speak of
At last a couple got together
From their house each night
Come terrible howls
Like from a torture chamber
A sado-masochist couple for sure
Deliriously in love
Happiness that Joe Normal can’t understand

*  *  *
My fear of a wound
Has to do with the way
It looks like a mouth
Spitting up blood

I fear a wound even more
For the protruding bone
Baring the white
Of its teeth

The wounds in my body cut deep

*  *  *
So says the alcoholic:
“Wine is good stuff
I just don’t have the right stuff”

*  *  *
Humble farmers doing a rice-sprout dance
Pounding drums tied to their waists

In the audience I can imagine
My grandmother getting teary-eyed

So this is indentifying with my ancestors?
I’d rather believe that my ancestors

Were a troop of bare-assed monkeys

*  *  *
While his wife was away
Big-bearded Karl
Threw down his goosefeather pen
Took off his waistcoat
Sidled into the kitchen
Where the servant girl was peeling potatoes
He pressed her onto the floor
Till his breaths came in gasps
Would you call this
One class
Keeping down
Another class?

*  *  *
He
Is the 25th lineal descendent
Of one the 25 male concubines
Kept by Empress Wu
And thus
He is an official of the current dynasty

*  *  *
At the dispensary of the Provincial Hospital
What a beautiful girl I saw
There to fill a prescription
I couldn’t help letting her cut in line
Maybe her being there
Was not for her own prescription
But in my eyes
Her illness had a haunting charm
As I watched her slender back
Disappearing with its packet of pills
I forgot my prescription
And followed right behind her
With a sense of beauty like this
I’m going end up ill one way or the other
If not me, who should it strike?

*  *  *
The power of a paragon is boundless
Whenever something happens
To reduce my writing output
I think of good old Emperor Qianlong
Through feasting, drinking, gambling, womanizing, and holding power
He always kept writing poetry
Who can do that today?
I have to admire him
I do admire him

*  *  *
The meat grinder we bought
A long time ago
Is now in a corner
Covered with dust
I’d rather hold a knife
Over an old cutting board
(the cross section
of an ancient tree)
And chop away
There’s a pleasure in this
I can’t get
Any other way

*  *  *
The sun that sets
Over the hills
Must be someone’s skull
Lopped off by a huge scythe
And gouts of blood make
Red streaks in the sky

Such a violent picture
Implies no blood thirstiness
On the image maker’s part
As a poet
He was driven to his wits end
By mediocre imagery
This was the move of a cornered dog
By a player losing at wei-qi

*  *  *
Lush  golden
The carpet of a wheatfield

A few straw hats
Move at the far end

Peals of thunder roll
A cloudburst is coming

The harvesters’ work will go to waste
It drives them to distraction

The lowering clouds
Press down on their shoulders

For me it’s not hard
To guess what they are

Under three straw hats
Three poets

*  *  *
My son’s spent his summer
In front of a small electric fan
Dancing  butt-naked
Doing a tribal dance
In front of his totem object
This summer I really felt the heat
I suffered heat for two in shame
Unable to afford an air conditioner
But I tried hard---I cut down on writing poems
Wrote boring pieces to sell for money
Checking my son’s skin rash constantly
I have never felt myself sink
So deeply into a season

*  *  *
On the road to north Shaanxi
A certain song was played on the bus
“Heaven Protect the People Who Eat”
It so happens the songwriter
Is a buddy of mine

The terrain of north Shaanxi
Baked under the cruel sun of July
My dear buddy
Hearing your song was no pleasure
In my lowly view
First of all we need Heaven to protect
The people who haven’t eaten

*  *  *
All afternoon
The tea drinkers sit there
With yellow liquid in their cups
It is easy to imagine
The whole group of them
Are drinkers of urine

*  *  *
“I prefer
to marry a merchant mariner”
These words were spoken
By a young woman  You and I
Were both listening
I remember that you said
She was naïve
And full of fantasies
But in fact
She is a loose woman
At the age of 20
Her promiscuous statement
Was an accurate prediction
Of how she would turn out

*  *  *
Even a woman of soaring ambition
Still follows the truism
That to conquer the world she must conquer a man
But why does the world have to be a man like this?
Bald on top   Gut hanging out
Vulnerable to having a heart attack in bed

*  *  *
Three idiots fishing at the edge of a lake
They themselves---one among them
With cellular phone in hand   in a strident voice---
Proclaim it to the world

“Hello! Hello! Hello! We’re here fishing!”

*  *  *
The intruder
Comes among us
On purpose
A black primate
Says he came to see the sights
In the world’s largest zoo

*  *  *
If it were not for the World Cup
Tonight I’d be looking at the stars
Pondering big questions about mankind
In my dark room
I’d be sitting in meditation
On a soft, wide Simmons bed
Repeating my mantra
Until dawn comes in the East
But no---
If it weren’t for the World Cup
The rosy light of dawn would find me
Still fast asleep

*  *  *
The only prop is a piece of fry-bread in a year of famine
The only scenery is a dilapidated temple in the storm
The only plot has you and I, the leading man and lady
Split that fry-bread and eat the halves

*  *  *
Off to the side of the cutting edge, cursing darkness
The poet is shameless
In order to keep cursing
He may even say
The light is infected with darkness

Off to the side of the cutting edge, cursing darkness
The poet shifts his shape
Into a squid
The sepia cloud he squirts in a glacier
Is how his inspiration turns into a poem

*  *  *
The weather report is on television
Seven-thirty in the evening
But the old codger would rather believe the newspaper
This is a habit of decades
And I would rather understand the weather
By looking at his face
Tomorrow clear skies turning cloudy,
  with squalls blowing in from the East,
  a low of 24 degrees, high 35 degrees

*  *  *
Once there was a mountain
On the mountain was a temple
In the temple was an old monk masturbating

Great Master, the ghostly moonlight
Shines on all things
As it does on this mountain

Your lonely temple
Is illuminated in the darkness
This is how it has been all these years

All these years
Your all-to-human actions
Have been forgiven by the Buddha

Great Master, when you do what you do
To take care of this problem
I’m wondering about a technical question

When your hand goes to work
Whose image is in your fantasy?
Is it the nun on the other side of the mountain, or is it Guanyin?

*  *  *
You never expected it would come to this
As your sword splits the heavens
All of your opponents are bellowing
“I’m here to teach you a lesson”
You never expected such thugs would appear
Your hand can’t hold back your sword

*  *  *
A jumping piece of chalk
Slides on the blackboard
And makes a screech
Right on the spot a girl student dies
She failed to cover her ears in time

We have heard a glass cutter
Drawn across a pane of glass
Well what if there were a thousand glass cutters
Drawn across a thousand panes of glass

That couldn’t compare with what was heard
Last year at a live rock concert
Where an old man pressed his chest
And gave up the ghost
The sharp pain of his heart attack
Fit right in with the current zeitgeist

*  *  *
Every day I squat and shit in an empty field
This makes me receptive to atmospheric energy

But lately a chill has been coming up my anus

*  *  *
Toothache is not an illness, but the pain is deathly
With hand on cheek I charged up and down
The corridor of a certain hospital
Like a fly against a widowpane
All overwrought, I barged into the obstetrics ward
And was chased out by screams

On a scanner showing the position of a fetus
Flashed a once-in-a-lifetime encounter
For the first time I saw the image of happiness
A fetus in a mother’s womb

Then I came to the psychiatric ward
Face to face with a group of doctors
They asked me common-sense questions
On matters other than happiness

My muttered answer was no answer
Ten months in the womb and out you come
How long can our happiness last?
How long can it last?

*  *  *
Keeping the prince company in his studies
I pretend my wit is even duller than his
A big bird flies overhead; I clap and cheer with him

Playing chess with the crown prince
I get into a position I cannot win
Crown prince, whether you are black or red
Pawn, chariot, horse, catapult---you capture them all

Practicing swordsmanship with the prince
I leave the prince a hundred openings
Occasionally I make a real thrust
And open a vent in his trousers

When the prince plays at riding
I play the little pony
With lowered head I crawl forward
Ready to buck at any moment

I keep in mind the prince was born to a concubine
This dragon spawn is really just a turtle egg

*  *  *
I am a little bird
Once I decide to fly, I fly really high
At last one day I flap my wings and climb into the sky
I meet head on with a huge airplane
No time to get out of the way
Later in the radio waves of Heaven
I hear news about a plane crash
Not a word is mentioned about me

*  *  *
One night he strolls past Lhasa river
All the hunting dogs are barking
“Tibetan knives, 20 yuan apiece!”

*  *  *
First Emperor! Bury me in a pit again!

*  *  *
What the man plays
Who puts a shotgun barrel in his mouth
Is not going to be a flute melody

*  *  *
This summer, huge floods in the south
Despite my empty-pockets
I squeeze out a contribution
I feel like flaying myself
Making a raft of human skin
And floating it down to the disaster area

*  *  *
Here in China I am a panda
What am I afraid of?

*  *  *
Peace is relaxing
But it is not very relaxing
To work at a munitions factory
The workers who make
Guns and shells for our country
Don’t learn to make anything for the people
When I heard of a man
Who couldn’t stand it
And jumped out a window
With his wife and child
My inner direction has changed
One way or another I’ve got to
Pass myself off as Du Fu*

    {Note: Du Fu of the Tang dynasty was known as the ‘sage-poet’---the epitome of a poet
with a conscience }
  


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