Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I Am the Bitterness (Inspired by Flower Sermon and Christian View)

I Am the Bitterness (Inspired by Flower Sermon and Christian View)
By Laijon Liu 20110816

No poet can write bitter poem, but I
No poem is bitterer than I am
I, am the bitterness

The saddened eyes behind a veil
A trembling bloom on Buddha’s palm
And his elapsing painful smile

Note:
In bitterness, we share same smile on life subject.

Chinese:
我是痛苦

没有诗人可以写出痛苦,只有我
没有诗比我还痛苦
我,就是痛苦

那面纱后悲伤的双瞳
佛祖掌上那颤抖张开的花朵
和他嘴角上 那丝悲苦的微笑

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Three Poems about “Tiger in Cage”

Three Poems about “Tiger in Cage”



[poem 1]

Iron Bars and Fire
By Zeng Zhuo, written 1946
Translated by Pang Bingjun, John Minford & Sean Golden

The tiger paces his cage.

In his cramped cage,
Silently he paces
Quietly growls
Ignoring the jeers, the alms outside.

Weary, he lies behind the bars
A mass of blazing stripes,
A ball of fire!

He stands
eyes burning
fangs bared
tensed to pounce
shriek of terror from beyond the cage!

Lowering his snout, he takes in
a deep breath of the wilderness scent
That still lingers on his coat
Reminds him
Mountains, forest, valley….
Years of freedom and dignity.

Late in the night
He paws the bar;
A longdrawn roar of rage and grief
Scatters the night air
Dies in the darkness
Like lightning flash!

Iron bars
Locked up fire!

---

[poem 2]

Tiger
By Niu Han, Written June 1973
Translated by Pang Bingjun, John Minford & Sean Golden

In Guilin
In a small zoo
I saw a tiger.

Pressed in crowd,
Outside two rows of iron bars,
I peered at the tiger in his cage
For a long long time.
But could see nothing
Of his brindled face
And flaming eyes.

The tiger in his cage
Turned from the cowardly, hopeless crowd,
Lay calmly stretched in a corner.
They pelted him with stones,
They goaded him with cries,
They coaxed and lured him,
But he ignored them all,
Slowly flailing the floor
With his long rough tail.

Tiger, o, caged tiger!

Are you dreaming the west mountain forest?
Is your stout heart twitching with shame?
Or are you thinking of lashing
The sad, laughable crowd
With your long whip tail?

Your sinewy legs
Are stiffly splayed.
Each broken claw
Blood encrusted.
Were they wrenched out
As you lay trussed and bound?
Or, did you yourself
Out of wrath and despair,
Crushed them with your splintered, bleeding teeth?

On the grey cement wall
Beside the cage,
Runnels of blood
Blasted my eyes like a forked lightning.

Finally, I understood…
Leaving the zoo in shame
I seem to hear a sound
An earth shattering roar-
A soul unbound
Had roared above my head

I saw the fiery stipes.
I saw the flaming eyes!

---

[poem 3]

A Tiger in a Cage
By Laijon Liu 20090611

A tiger in a cage
A crown taken away
In forest he’s a king
But here he falls into Cat category

Children adore him all day
Dogs bark at him
Behind bars he laps his paws
Invincible daggers he’ll never use

What kind of beast
Waits for people to feed?
Isn’t he a sun-god?
Plays a devil role at night?

Beautiful camouflage coat
Should be an art of mystery
But now he can’t find a bush
To show off his magic mark

A pair sad and big eyes
Golden and mild
No light of hope
Shining no pride, nor wild

Ah, he is a tiger
But caged behind bars
A god of mountain
Became a wooden idol

Note:
Society is a jail that locks our spirit and breaks down our will. I often feel I should accomplish more with whatever I have, but often feel that I’m unable to do. There is a greater force that shut all the doors right in front of me, till one day I stop hitting my head against walls, and I would walk by its side back and forth, couldn’t give up, and one day I might eventually become that brother tiger I met at the zoo years ago, that he stopped looking at the visitors, stopped walking by the bars to hope a miracle gate to be opened, just laying there half-sleep all day, given up dreaming the green forest, high mount top, deep valley, living springs, and never cared if he was alive or dead, or hungry or lack of mate or sex. He should have his kingdom and title, his deity and honor. I shed tears for him, sometimes I only pity him that he did not deserve such treatment, he was not human, he only took what he needed, but even so strong like him still could not break away from the bars we made, all of his identity stripped away, and such life even worst than death. There is a Chinese saying: “Rather live a day of tiger, should not suffer for hundred years like a sheep.” But in our zoo, no one can break loose, not even terrible beasts, maybe only Jesus. And a few prophets and suicidal poets? I doubt. They simply lived a short life in our zoo. Just an opinion

Note about the 3 tiger in cage poems:

There are maybe more Tiger in Cage poems, but I wonder how my poem [A Tiger in a Cage] shares same view with other two Modern Chinese poets. I never read their tiger poems before I wrote mine, and I don’t believe the poet Niu Han read [Iron Bars and Fire] before composing his Tiger, yet 3 poems are inspired by one theme, shared same view, but holds different character.

[Iron bars and Fire] written in 1946, China in civil war, the tiger ready to break out of the cage anytime.
[Tiger] by Niu Han, written in 1974, China just finished culture revolution, the tiger is tormented and yet still in strive.
But my poem I wrote in 2009, when I was so depressed, that feeling reminded me a tiger I saw when I was a kid, that tiger totally lost his identity and became a toy.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Ode to Lotus



Ode to Lotus
By Zhou Dunyi (1017-1073 Song Dynasty)
Translated by Laijon Liu 20110803

Flowers upon our earth, many kinds we do like.
Tao Chien of Jing, loves chrysanthemum alone,
And after Tang Dynasty, the world adores peony,
But I am a person that admires a lotus in pond.
For it comes out of the mire earth, yet not defiled,
And cleansed by the pure ripples, but never flirty;
Humbleness fills its stem, and upright toward sky;
It’s never entangled, never branched to the side;
Its fragrance spreads far, yet its pureness does not fade,
Straight, lofty and clean, stands such character of its kind,
That world can only behold it afar, yet never tamper it.

I believe, chrysanthemum is a hermit among flowers,
And peony, it ranks as the rich and noble plant,
But lotus is a gentleman among the bloom kind.
Ah! There’re only a few people love chrysanthemum,
And are there anyone admires lotus nowadays?
No. Most of all people in the world admire peony!

Note:
When I was teen, I read this prose and loved it, here translated it for people to share.

Chinese:
爱莲说
周敦颐(1017-1073)

水陆草木之花,可爱者甚蕃:晋陶渊明独爱菊,
自李唐来,世人盛爱牡丹。予独爱莲之出淤泥而不染
,濯清涟而不妖;中通外直,不蔓不枝;香远益清,
亭亭净植,可远观而不可亵玩焉。
予谓:菊,花之隐逸者也;牡丹,花之富贵者也
;莲,花之君子者也。噫!菊之爱,陶后鲜有闻。莲
之爱,同予者何人?牡丹之爱,宜乎众矣!