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招魂

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Li Cheng'en

CALLING THE GHOSTS



In a hotel in a dream

very softly, I hear the ghosts.



"I give my flesh to the mud for keeping.

When I need it, please give it back!



I give my bones to the stones for keeping.

When I need them, please give them back!



I give my blood to the rivers for keeping.

When I need it, please give it back!



I give my brains to the mountain for keeping.

When I need it, please give it back!



I give my eyes to the sun and the moon.

When I need them, please give them back!



I give my warmth to the stove for keeping.

When I need it, please give it back!



Only the heart I have to carry ... "



After I wake up

I open the window

and see the mountain slowly moving.

One tiny stream down from the snow

like it's flowing in my dream.



Has my soul

gone wandering?

Or is it back?



I retain

one dusty heart.

But my soul,

where is it hidden?

Who gives it back?



Tr. MW, Oct. 2013



Li Cheng'en, born in the 1980s. Published poetry, essays and a novel.



李成恩

招魂歌咒



我在旅馆的梦里

隐隐听到了招魂歌咒



“我把肉体寄存给泥土

要的时候你可得还啊



我把骨头寄存给石头

要的时候你可得还啊



我把鲜血寄存给江水

要的时候你可得还啊



我把脑浆寄存给雪山

要的时候你可得还啊



我把眼睛寄存给日月

要的时候你可得还啊



我把体温寄存给炉火

要的时候你可得还啊



只有心我得自己带走... ..."



我醒来后

推开窗户

看见雪山缓缓移动

一条薄薄的河流

像是从我的梦里流出



我的魂魄

游走了?

还是回来了?



我守住了

一颗沾满灰尘的心

但我的魂魄

寄存在哪里?

谁又能还我?



As soon as I read this, I was reminded of Woeser, the Tibetan poet. Didn't know Li Cheng'en was also a woman. All those verses with "I give" could be "I gave". In the Chinese, there is no difference. The sentence construction is also unique. It is the "ba-construction". Sometimes the "ba" is a "jiang", but not here. Anyway, it's a construction often discussed in Chinese grammar. Literally I think it's like saying "I take my flesh and give it to the mud for keeping". Maybe you could also just say "I put my flesh into the mud", or into the soil. But why would you call on the mud to hold it for you?

My translation was originally based on this picture version sent around on Tencent Weibo and Sina Weibo as part of Yi Sha's regular New Century Poetry Canon. Li Cheng'en has since told me about a mistake in the copying process. In the Weibo image "warmth" or literally body warmth occurs twice. Li Cheng'en says it should be "eyes" instead of warmth the first time. So originally I had "I give my warmth to the sun and the moon. When I need it, please give it back!" I like both versions. Somehow I'm glad about the mistake. Makes for closer attention.

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Two recent poems

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HONG KONG - HELSINKI

the clouds are beautiful outside
I got away
no, I'm not dead
it's like this when you fly
you are cramped in a chair
you are tired and dazed
you are in limbo
suspended, in wait
the clouds afar are snowy peaks
shining white in the sun
like you could ski
a vast himalaya of clouds
we flew through the darkness
we're seeing the light
we'll arrive rather early
maybe early enough
to make our connections
and continue on home
back to our streets and tended fields
our hunter-gathering houses
may the force that moves the clouds
be gentle with us
with our intrepid can
when we go on down below soon enough
please let us retain
some of this peace

MW August 2013


IN ZUOJIAZHUANG NANLI

in summer the moon stays in the south
we were here two years ago
just two of us and not for long
it used to be home
in two days we'll be gone
we lived here for seven years
nine years on this street
six years in this building
five years far away
two months in between
not all of us four
the people still know us
they all know our daughter
it wasn't all roses
we lived the high life
up there on the terrace
quite close to the stars
one or two through the smog
the birds taking flight
in summer the moon stays in the south
our children are from here
we still fight a lot
and sleep not enough
let us cherish our days
nanli means the southern parts
let's keep nanli in our hearts

MW Juli 2013

More photos: http://photo.blog.sina.com.cn/category/u/1758531993/s/527113

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moroccan fountain

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moroccan fountain,
Marokkanergasse, Vienna

the sun is streaming
against the mosaic.
the fountain's broken,
turned off.
the people are busy, most of them.
it's 9 am.
shopping, smoking.
high heels. maybe productive.
in jackets and scarves.
it's chilly compared with a few days ago.
for a moment, the sun.
the warm morning sun.

MW August 2012

周二,8月28日。 The sun is on the door at eight or nine. In the afternoon it's around the corner. The door to the street is over 100 years old, like the house. Military officer's quarters, originally. Our apartment is downstairs, ground floor. still expensive, inner city. The picture is from May.

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lent, returned

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lent, returned

the air is crisp.
the streets are clear.
the sun is out.
we go to church.
halleluja, praise the air.
halleluja, praise the light.
halleluja, praise the space.
praise the people, praise the cake.
what on earth is happiness?
should we ask a fairy mother?
should we ask important people?
god is with us.
is he happy?
praise the lady
with the pizza.
i miss the organ.
i miss the prayer.
we used to be new.
are the animators happy?
do we have an e-mail address?
why are we here?
where do you come from?
when did you start to learn chinese?
the light is always different
if you're in taipei or beijing
if you're on kinmen in the wind,
in hualien, kaohsiung or tainan.
the air is crisp
here in the city, in vienna
where I grew up
and hardly ever feel at home.

MW March 2012

廖亦武吹簫,張振山拍攝.JPG
https://sites.google.com/site/wujiehmin/home/she-hui-zheng-zhi-ping-lun/fan-zhuan-zhi-de-di-ceng-mei-xue-ji-liao-yi-wu

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家に帰る

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back in vienna

the moon is bright
a piece of light
we're going home
behind the tree
we see a star
you see the one
above the house
among the clouds.
the day was warm
the first of march.
it was quite cold
i wasn't here
a week of minus 10 or more,
more than a week.
i wasn't here,
i spent one month
quite far away.
i was quite close,
close to the land.
close to the people, to the world,
close to the feeling of tainan
and other places near and far.
it is a very special land,
a very special state indeed.
i like the mixture, the surprise,
like budapest, like prague, brno
like jihlava, like trebic, telc.
it's very different indeed,
with many other languages
and attitudes and refugees
and violence and history.
the violence is palpable.
it is a very peaceful land.
the mountains are quite beautiful.

MW March 2nd, 2012

zurueck in wien

der mond ist hell
ein weisses stueck
ich muss nach haus
und hinterm baum
ist noch ein stern
und oben auch
wir muessen rein
es war recht warm
der fruehling halt
es war sehr kalt
ich war nicht da
war in taiwan
ich war sehr nah
sehr nahe dran
so hat es sich
oft angefuehlt

ich war ja schon viel frueher dort
vor vierundzwanzig jahren fast
ich fuehlte mich fast wie zuhaus
denn wenn man fremd und offen ist
dann fuehlt man bald, was hier passiert
hier oder dort. die stadt ist grosz
und wieder nicht. die hauptstadt halt.
man weiss recht gut was hier geschah,
in vielen orten rundherum.
man sagt es doch nicht allzu oft.

es ist jetzt eigentlich recht bunt
und reich und sauber, im vergleich.
reich an kultur, an wirtschaftskraft
in asien, in oesterreich.
das klima ist dort ziemlich warm
im norden regnet es recht viel,
fast jeden tag. in gaoxiong nicht.

ich sag gausiung,
ich weiss nicht wie
mans anders sagt.
es ist ganz anders, je nachdem
woher du kommst. und wen du kennst
und wie du lebst. so wie in linz.

MW 2. Maerz 2012

http://erguotou.wordpress.com/2012/03/01/frankfurt-5/

http://erguotou.wordpress.com/2012/02/28/auf-wiedersehen-taiwan/

http://erguotou.wordpress.com/2012/02/27/reading-in-taipei/

http://erguotou.wordpress.com/2012/02/23/liao-yiwu-in-tainan/

http://erguotou.wordpress.com/2012/02/23/tainan/

http://erguotou.wordpress.com/2012/02/18/freedom/

http://erguotou.wordpress.com/2012/02/12/liao-yiwu-in-taipei/

http://erguotou.wordpress.com/2012/02/11/wir-auf-kinmen-eine-wurzel/

http://erguotou.wordpress.com/2012/02/07/happy-lanterns/

http://erguotou.wordpress.com/2012/02/06/%e6%96%87%e5%ad%b8%e3%80%81%e7%bf%bb%e8%ad%af%e7%ad%89%e7%ad%89/

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