Either you are sorting it out, or you are full of it.

Friday, November 26, 2010

New Words: Liminal and Scrow



posted by ferret at 4:48 pm  

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Translation: 回乡偶书

I’ve decided to start translating Chinese poetry. I’m not trained in this, so I have no idea about the traditions/shades of meaning in these words. I’m planning to learn as I go. Criticism is warmly welcomed. For my first attempt, I’ve started with a poem that I’ve been told is easy – “one you learn when you’re 10 years old.” Let’s see how it goes…








“A Homecoming, Some Thoughts”

(He Zhizhang)

I was young when I left home

Old when I returned again.

The way I spoke didn’t change,

Not like this hair behind my ears.

Children saw me

But they didn’t know who I was.

Smiling, they asked me like a stranger,

Where are you from?

posted by ferret at 2:53 pm  

Monday, November 15, 2010

False Start #52

I relate to foreign cultures the way I relate to women. I start superficially, judging them in ways I would only feel comfortable sharing with close friends. When I try to get to know them better, it is awkward, absurd even. Any third party to our actions would find our behavior childish and naive. If I get to know them better, there is a slow process of revealing. Every single action is another look into something I begin to realize is far more complicated than I imagined. What I have before me is flesh and blood – changing, moving, thinking. If it goes farther, I find that I have fallen in love. These affectations I found so distant live within me now, a part of who I am, something I cannot escape nor do I want to.

posted by ferret at 2:28 pm  

Friday, November 5, 2010

Chinese Shadowplay

I saw an ancient shadow play

In Shanghai, China, far away.

I could not understand the songs

The warble, clatter low and long;

The locals too had lost the words,

And told me so with smiles absurd.

They asked me how I came to see

This spectacle in front of me.

But I was lost in puppetry –

The flattened models hard to see

That flashed behind the stretch of skin

And bayed like ghosts above the din.

The form was strange, from long ago

And gave me stories I couldn’t know.

My Chinese tender, knowledge weak

I made up stories so they’d speak.


I saw a man behind the screen,

Just his face and his hand

Clutched about a bow

Dragging across an erhu.

He rocked with the music

Lost in the melody,

Pentatonic, ebbing about the puppets

Projected on the skin.

But he didn’t see the stories either.

He didn’t see the intrigues of principates.

He had his own stories.

I couldn’t imagine them,

But they sat there on his face

And didn’t need to speak.

posted by ferret at 6:11 pm  

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