We were pleased to work with China's Poetry Journal(诗刊), from 2019 to 2022 bring these poems to our readers.
Poetry Journal（诗刊, Beijing, China）was founded in 1957, with an emphasis on the publication of contemporary Chinese poetry as well as classical poetry by living poets. It is the widest-circulated poetry journal in China,
is a lake — a teardrop of a peach blossom, let me call it Peach Blossom Pond,
three feet deep, and farmer Wang Loon* lives nearby.
I love the fish in the water, who pick the best bits to eat,
and flap away the carefree days. I love that peasant woman with a hoe on her shoulder,
raking and weeding, and feeding all the city folks and a hectare of radishes.
But clearly this luminous lake is the moon that Wang Loon
secretly handed to me, which shines like a mirror
and plays the music of heaven and earth.
Translator’s note: Wang Loon was a friend of the famous poet Li Bai in Tang Dynasty. Wang Loon was a city magistrate. After leaving office, he moved his family to a country house by Peach Blossom Pond, where Li Bai visited him several times, and wrote a poem titled Gift to Wang Loon : "The Peach Blossom Pond, a thousand feet deep, is not as deep as Wang Loon's friendship."
Translated by Meifu Wang & Michael Soper
Simultaneously broadcast in China via WeChat （微信） by our partner — China's Poetry Journal（诗刊）: https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/E2qxRSv5R9kXkOBgn3_Pvw
I gave a rufescent wool sweater to a jackstraw. Since then, all the migratory rufescent birds startled when they saw me—those flying north, as well as those flying south. Then, as if with team spirit, they boldly opened and flapped their wings.
The rufescent birds in flight were staggered to see me—the single flier, as well as those in a flock.
When I went abroad —certainly you might take it as going into exile— that same year in September, Mother pulled out yarn from a train of burning clouds to knit the rufescent ribbed sweater for me.
She gave it to the jackstraw for the long trip in the winter, because the color represented the rufescent hope of a migratory bird, flying north, towards my native home, the eternal home.
The rufescent birds startled when they saw me—those with songs, as well as the silent ones.
Translated by Duckyard Lyricists, a group of devoted poetry lovers: Meifu Wang, Michael Soper, and Guy Hibbert
Simultaneously broadcast in China via WeChat （微信） by our partner — China's Poetry Journal（诗刊）: https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/KUrC8rQDILbza6CDCSgq0Q
with your eyes’ yardstick, but don’t let it weaken your knees.
Every mountain pass and every tight curve
throws you to the precipice of falling, and leaves you in pieces.
Luckily a swaying roadhouse awaits on the hillside.
Luckily a strong tea slakes your thirst before the mountaintop.
The higher up, the closer you are to an irenic world,
under a lighter weight of time…
Yardstick Mountain is a peak in Mingshan Mountain Range in southwest China. It is famous for its upright profile, like a vertical yardstick, hence the Chinese name Tiechi Liang (Yardstick Mountain) and the Tibetan name Tiejie Ri (Shining Forehead).
Translated by Duckyard Lyricist, a group of devoted poetry lovers: Meifu Wang, Michael Soper, and Guy Hibbert
Simultaneously broadcast in China via WeChat （微信） by our partner — China's Poetry Journal（诗刊）: https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/XTVl3JPbeNqw8yBD_F4Qng
*In Mandarin, the word “elephant” is homophonic with the word “grand vision”, or “grand illusion” as in Buddhist teaching.
The meadow stays green, the spring lies in the mountain,
but the Tang Dynasty outpost nearby is reduced to a playground,
an emperor’s dragon robe for rent at 20 yuan
— to see the sea in a drop of nectar —
plus, for free, the drifting clouds and the wind-swept willows.
Dreamer Zhang is not bothered by any of that,
but focuses on keeping his tiny house safe,
including his wife’s tomb after three decades together.
His left leg is prone to arthritis past midnight;
not an old fogey in looks, but he longs for the end of life’s toil.
Arm in arm, all of us took part in
the death of the grand vision. The thing to do now
is to remember the hard times when life is good, to foresee
bloodshed in peacetime, to keep our minds open for epiphanies.
The only destructible part of life is our old skin.
Why not climb the Fairy Mountain.
Why not visit the Wonders of Crater Cavern.^
^Wonders of Crater Cavern, or Tiankeng Difeng in Chinese, is a Karst physiographic region characterized by a big sinkhole and an underground river system including caves. It is located in Fengjie near Chongqing, China . It is also known as the Heavenly Pit.
Translated by Meifu Wang, Michael Soper & Guy Hibbert
Simultaneously broadcast in China via WeChat （微信） by our partner — China's Poetry Journal（诗刊）: https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/7vg98ZVa2yWwH1dXMvKQrw
to spend time with loved ones, to eat assorted kebabs he made.
The discussion turned to soccer, vegetable garden, fine-brush painting,
and nine ways of slow-cooking cutlassfish.
Love affairs were treated as a matter of the mind.
On the other end of the phone, rain was pouring down.
The discussion turned lively:
which shop was cleaner;
what flowers to make a room romantic;
for the first rendez-vous, should it be in a cafe or bed?
As they chatted, there stood Shanhai Mountain Pass**,
the rebel king had broken the defense line,
smoke signals were burning around Coal Hill,
outside Beijing’s Xizhimen Gate***.
What do you say, shall we talk on the phone tonight?
He texted back in-between selling beers: Sweetie, I won’t be home
until the football match ends at midnight.
On the riverbank of Songhua River, he and his friends had nothing to do;
one of them, who would die within two months,
said to everyone playfully:
After I leave tonight,
I won't be returning tomorrow nor the day after.
Never to return would be that moonlight tonight,
the dinner dishes he painted for his girlfriend,
and the lovely smell of Russian bread and Borscht soup from the kitchen.
In the moonlight of another city, his girlfriend read a story to her child.
A cozy, home-like scene?
Not everybody thought so.
The phone made a clanking sound,
hanging up on all love.
No reasons given, no warning signs,
the man who sold beer by Songhua River
fell into deep sleep; it's said he didn't have even 100 yuan on him.
*The Songhua River is over 1,400 kilometers long and flows from the Changbai Mountains on the China-North Korea border through Jilin and Heilongjiang provinces in China's northeast.
**Shanhai Pass is one of the major strategic passes along sections of the Great Wall of China, located in the northern province of Hebei.
***The Emperor Chongzhen (r. 1628-1644) hanged himself from a tree on Coal Hill in Jingshan Park, a park located behind the northern gate of the Forbidden City. It was from the Gate of Military Prowess that the Emperor exited the northern gate and made his way to Coal Hill.
Translated by Duck Yard Lyricists, a group of devoted poetry lovers: Meifu Wang, Michael Soper, Peter Micic & Johan Ramaekers
Simultaneously broadcast in China via WeChat （微信） by our partner — China's Poetry Journal（诗刊）: https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/OmDz9uVH6xjMBkRtGgXVhQ