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Summer/Fall 2020Issue 14

Poet and scholar  Yang Mu, born 1940 in Hualien, Taiwan, earned a BA in English at Taiwan’s Tunghai Univ., an M.F.A. in poetry at the Univ. of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature at the Univ. of California, Berkeley. One of Taiwan’s most esteemed and influential poets, he was the author, editor, and translator of myriad volumes, both prose and poetry, including a variety of scholarly monographs and critical works. His writing also appeared in multiple collections across many languages. Yang Mu was appointed Professor Emeritus of Comparative Literature at the Univ. of Washington, Distinguished Professor at National Taiwan Normal Univ., and Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Chinese Literature at National Dong Hwa Univ in Hualien.

Over his long career Yang Mu also taught at Taiwan’s National Cheng Chi Univ., Princeton Univ., and the Hong Kong Univ. of Science and Technology. From 1996-2001 he served as Professor of Chinese and Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at National Dong Hwa Univ., following which he became Distinguished Research Fellow and Director of the Institute of Chinese Literature and Philosophy at Academia Sinica in Taipei.

Among Yang Mu’s many Taiwan honors are two China Times Literary Awards; the Wu San-lien Literature Prize; a 5 year “Outstanding Lecturer” Grant from the Foundation for the Advancement of Outstanding Scholarship; and the National Culture and Arts Award. His international recognition includes Malaysia’s Hua Zong Literary Award; the 2013 U.S. Newman Prize for Chinese Literature; and the 2016 Swedish Cikada Prize.

In March 2020, Yang Mu died in Taipei. For more information on his life and work, visit the Yang Mu website.

The poems in this Pangolin House issue are selected from his later and variously challenging collection, Poems Long and Short. Initial English translations were made with creative writing poetry translation workshop students led by Pangolin House editors during a U.S. Fulbright professorship to National Taiwan Univ.

楊牧,臺灣著名詩人、作家、翻譯家、學者。1940年生於臺灣花蓮。東海大學學士(1963),美國愛荷華大學碩士(1966),加州大學(柏克萊)博士(1971)。出版著作六十餘種,包括詩、散文、戲劇、評論、翻譯、編纂等。詩作譯入英文、德文、法文、義大利文、日文、瑞典文、荷蘭文等。曾任美國華盛頓大學(西雅圖)教授(1971–2006),臺灣大學客座教授(1975–76,1983–84),普林士頓大學訪問教授(1978–79),香港科技大學講座教授(1991–94),政治大學講座教授(2007–12),東華大學教授兼文學院長(1996–2001),中央研究院特聘研究員兼文哲所長(2002–06)。亦被授予華盛頓大學榮譽教授,國立臺灣師範大學榮譽講座教授,東華大學榮譽講座教授。

得獎包括詩宗獎(1971),時報文學獎(推薦獎 1979, 1987),吳三連文學獎(1990),財團法人傑出人才發展基金會講座(1996–2001),國家文藝獎(2000),花蹤世界華文文學獎(馬來西亞 2007),紐曼華語文學獎(美國 2013),蟬奬(瑞典 2016)等。 

2020年3月,詩人楊牧病逝於臺北。更多著作及生平資料參見楊牧網站。本期《穿山甲》選詩皆出自詩人晚年代表詩集《長短歌行》,譯本始自2019年春本刊編輯在臺灣國立大學開設的臺灣現代詩翻譯工作坊

獨鶴

有一種姿勢眼看即將展開:
露水點滴蒸發,太陽淹遲淪陷為了
反覆重來。背對那個方向
鶴他預言地站立
或許將對我們宣告
有些啟示,一個物種界外彷彿
陌生的異類先行者以同樣的
冷眼回望那偶發的次情節
暴亂的訴求──
認知這時風中
和我一樣稀有的始終
是這種不可或忘的嶙峋之姿
或掀動兩翼於朝暉裏作有形與無之舞
以一聲長唳發自我們失落的九皋深處

 

LONE CRANE

A stance about to form:
drop by drop the dew
burns off, the sun once more declines
so it may rise.
A crane, oracular, faces west
as if in prophecy, its cold, alien gaze
branched from countless chances.
See in the wind that stark shape,
first to last rare as our own.
Dawn glows through lifted wings,
shaped yet shapeless. From the depth
of all losses, grief
is a piercing cry.

trans. © Diana Shi & George O’Connell with NTU Poetry Translation Workshop

時運

我垂首獨坐午后漸稀的日影
深知文本雜沓穿心未必構成意念:
懊悔,似乎看得見秧苗在春風裏
同時抖動系列的羽翼,聽到魚鱗
跳躍於清溪,秋光逡巡門外選擇方向
惟獨我垂首坐對薄薄的暮寒
認真尋覓,卻找不到
如何回應宇宙賦我以浩蕩的主題

但我何嘗不覺悟,有時恢弘的
知識判斷縱使可讓文字舛錯減少至最低
假如另外一種風不以時而起,白雪不
以時而降,籬前的竹如何顯示節操
猗猗為你簷下閉門讀書的典型
作完整的畫像使有別於人間的乖戾
執拗?大智慧不必一定就是古來
金針只為你專屬之度與

 

ROTATION

In the ebbing sun of afternoon
I sit head down, too aware
loose thoughts won’t always build ideas.
Regrettable, as if recalling green shoots
in April wind, their shivery wings.
Or the soft plash of fish in the river.
Outside, autumn light’s uncertain where to go.
I sit alone in dusk’s faint chill,
waiting to answer the vast universe.

Why can’t I grasp that knowledge and judgement
should lessen the errors of my words?
If time brings neither wind nor snow,
how can upright bamboo
sketch the image of one’s study
closed off from a distasteful world.
Why hold with old wisdom?
Art’s golden needle is its gift.

trans. © Diana Shi & George O’Connell with NTU Poetry Translation Workshop

論孤獨

縱使古來所有排行,定位的天體
都已在無意識中紛紛流失,朝向
極暗的氣層飛去,惟我勉強抵抗著
四面襲到,累積的黑,端坐幻化的
樹下,把人間的心事一併劃歸屬我有
警覺孤獨成形

但我也寧可選擇孤獨,有人說
言畢遂滅絕於泡影。感性的
文字不再指稱未來多義
甚至不如那晚夏的薔薇
在稀薄的暖流中不象徵甚麼地
對著一隻蜂

這樣推算前路,以迴旋之姿
肯定手勢無誤。現在穿過大片蘆葦──
光陰的逆旅──美的極致
現在蛻除程式的身體
完成單一靈魂。且止步
聽雁在冷天高處啼

 

ON SOLITUDE

The stars that steered through history
have withered to lightless skies, oblivion.
Yet I remain, resisting
as darkness floods my shadow.
Beneath one tree,
I take up the human heart,
startled by this solitude.

I prefer it. Some say
utterance only ends in air.
Sensual words no longer speak
for uncertain futures,
as a rose in the breeze of late summer
merely lures the bee.

The gestured path is true,
circling through reeds
where time can rest
and beauty finds perfection.
Now the flesh may shed formality
in reaching one’s own soul.
Listen. High up, in the cold,
wild geese calling.

trans. © Diana Shi & George O’Connell with NTU Poetry Translation Workshop

鷓鴣天

無韻體奉聲學家羅杰瑞

木棉花在高溫裏開落,概念留
枝頭,預知一爻如箭將對準不忍的
空白疾行,超越形器,象數,和所有
風雨聲類:虎豹的蹤跡,獨角獸的影
一隻鷓鴣從紅槿小木間狹邪穿刺
迎面看見水影照女墻,遂鼓其短翅低飛
瀲灎轉平上去入,過河,升高
在前上方,與期待的天色和絃

 

PARTRIDGE SKY

Written unrhymed for the Chinese
historical phonologist Jerry Lee Norman

In the heat, red cotton tree blossoms
open and fall. Ghost flowers
linger in the boughs, hinting at the yao,
an arrow racing toward emptiness,
beyond all sounds, shapes, the forms
of wind, rain, tracks of tigers,
leopards, shadows of mythic beasts.
A partridge skims a hibiscus,
sees a parapet mirrored in a river,
soars high, dips low,
crosses water, then towers,
merging with the color of the sky.

trans. © Diana Shi & George O’Connell with NTU Poetry Translation Workshop

Partridge Sky: originally an ancient Chinese melody for which poets would compose lyrics.

yao: In the Chinese divination classic I Ching, a yao, either broken (yin) or unbroken (yang) is any one line in a six-line hexagram. Here the poet suggests the yao line, like an arrow, holds the energy for change.

罌粟

起初以為那是記憶的摺紙
掛在臨水廊下,不期然望見了
未及熟視,俄而
化為古箏音響浮過告別的現場
如飛禽無意掉下之一羽
落入歌者湛湛的心底,渲染
滲透,或是蝴蝶如期負來生靈
鮮血無盡,轉眼回歸純粹
一種決眥欲裂的紅

 

POPPY

At first, memory’s origami
hanging from a waterside porch
open to a stranger’s gaze.
Then it melds to a farewell
strummed on the guzheng,
as if a feather parted from one wing
found the singer’s limpid heart,
the music rippling
like a sudden butterfly bears up the spirit.
Endless blood, a furious purity
about to split open.

trans. © Diana Shi & George O’Connell with NTU Poetry Translation Workshop

葵花園

像螢火熄滅了的葵花園,傳說
與露水先後退卻,以及所有我們
依恃的數字,圖象,長久經營的
主題,以及衰蟬棲定對準光圈一點

他日重來,各自換了新羽猶認識
對方臨風的姿態,在偏高枝頭
那樣期待的神情,在螢火熄滅了
傳說與露水都已經退卻的葵花園

 

SUNFLOWERS

Like sunflowers without fireflies,
legends vanish swifter than the dew.
Figures, images crowd the lens,
their timeworn themes. The husk
of the cicada hooks its perch.

One day we’ll start over,
growing new wings,
sensing each other’s stance
in the breeze, on high branches
bearing our hopes
in this garden the fireflies left,
where legends
have retreated with the dew.

trans. © Diana Shi & George O’Connell with NTU Poetry Translation Workshop

風一樣循環

鐘的反面有人翩然蒞止,坐下
面對昨夜凋零一地的黃花:
表情錯愕,翅膀上點點瑩光
想是屢次星際來回就沾染些
是非流言,卻不是我們能輕易否認──
坐著,在長短針將盡未盡的時刻
維持一種互動,風一樣循環的關係
誰先到誰就安心等著

 

TURNING LIKE WIND

Behind time’s face,
among strewn yellow blossoms,
light sparkling wings
descend in astonishment,
as if returned from a star
with some message
we can’t easily deny.
Dropping down when neither hour
nor minute hand have come
to their conclusion
but maintain their relation,
like the turning and cycling of wind.
Whoever gets there first can wait.

trans. © Diana Shi & George O’Connell with NTU Poetry Translation Workshop

有歌

透過不凋的藤花感覺昨夜熄滅
的星在泉水聲裏復活了,而月光
已悉數傾向我們眼睛錯過的
一方,相對於這邊殘存的熱度猶持續
在未知領域浮沉。這時我就聽到
有歌蓋過愈來愈稀薄的黑暗,撩動
顫慄的風,夏日清晨醒與睡升降於十指
之間的無形似的極響

 

SONG

Through the flowering wisteria, last night’s stars
revive to the sound of spring water,
while moonlight draws our gaze
where we hadn’t looked,
this rippling light sinking, rising,
cool beside us. Now I hear
the song that fills thin darkness,
stirs the breeze to tremble
as dawn attends the shapeless moment
from sleep to waking,
its notes the overture
between ten fingers.

trans. © Diana Shi & George O’Connell with NTU Poetry Translation Workshop

形影神 · 3 神釋

我承認我因為缺乏普救的定義
而自詡詡欣喜,近乎超然之有力
絕對的自由,零羈絆,且透明無所
不在,永遠比爾等輕若山谷飄泊
吹過的風,比子夜潮音自古昔
傳來,比夢──更渺茫
訴諸想像,我承認我永遠先走一步
以慧黠掩飾羞澀的表情
曾經屬於我的
惟有當寂寞也變成完全屬於我
的時候,當四冥八荒充滿了宇宙勢必
沉淪的異象,我站在雷雨初歇的野地
嘗試解說一些重複的徵兆
為你,以約定的程式
直探依稀多情的心,堅持摧折
當無邊的寂寞證明完全屬於我
也只有流落人生歧路上的你
和你,是我惟一的不捨

 

SPIRIT SPEAKS

from “Matter, Shape, & Spirit”, a response
to Tao Yuan Ming’s three part poem of the same title

I confess I’m fully content
with no grand plan of the universe,
free, unfettered, invisible
and everywhere. Like wind that flows
down a valley, I’m lighter than the world,
farther than the tidal hush of midnight,
gauzier than dream. I trust imagination
to stay one step ahead, my cleverness
veiling my shyness. What I owned
were only those moments
of solitude, wholly possessed.
Everywhere portents herald doom
as rain follows thunder,
while here in the wilderness
I strive as promised to uncode the omens,
to plumb your heart, my husk,
through such troubles.
At this crossroads
in a waste of isolation,
you’re all I can claim.

trans. © Diana Shi & George O’Connell with NTU Poetry Translation Workshop

琴操變奏九首(節選)

涉其淺兮,石齧我足;乘其深兮,龍入我舟。 
——韩愈〈琴操:將歸操〉

其三

高處看見浮雲來往蹉跎,一面反光的
鏡子,戰爭年代棄置無人的樓層
遠道跋涉的蜘蛛偶然升登,瑣碎結網
紋路宛轉溫柔似水鄉,細聲提示
屬於我們可意會的秘密
終於完成:暮色裏以果樹開花的旋律
渲染,全力敷衍其榮華假象
如眾神無情來去隨興聚散,直北
極光反射在高處懸掛的鏡子上

其四

再一次自風雨聲中醒來,破碎的黎明
將我竦動擲回深陷,無夢的淵藪
浮沉不安的水域:荷芰紛紛擱淺
一些稀薄的符號,象徵,和圖騰——
昔時憑藉以互通音訊,抱怨或控訴的
線路,失聯的神經支配著殘餘
的意識生與死,而我甚至知道
更遠的天邊還有少數虧損的星
即將應聲墜落水底,廣闊的平野
為受傷的魚和掩翅息蹄的禽獸點燈
一些狹仄轉折,誤導的途徑

其五

你難道不曾因為天籟略無形跡
而困頓長夜,側耳追尋?若不是關於
洪荒前期早已傳達到位的故事
蟲豸和魚白孵化的寓言,可能
可能就是一種切身的宣示斷定我們
也將先後老去如帶翅飛天的恐龍
扶搖直上,舂容迴響,輒遭遇龐大
繼起的空虛;抑或以絕對的冥默內省
如單獨穿行廢墟的兵士,因為悔恨
低頭無由看見春花在前路抽長
在斷垣盡頭,甚至當溫暖的雨水準時
下降,在泥濘深深的古戰場

其七

這不足為奇你手拈一朵無色的
花面向晚霞似乎有話對我說——
何其驚異的神情:可以想像
是暗指夜來螢火嘯聚人必有一件心事
秋葉在接近零點的霧中
逆向迴旋,激流撞擊有聲
帶走漩渦上方的影

 

from NINE ZITHER VARIATIONS

Ford shallow streams, stones bruise my feet.
Cross deep water, dragons share my skiff.
—Han Yu (Qin Melody: The Return)

3
Clouds flow by, catching light
while here in this building
abandoned since the war
a spider climbs high
on its weavings, fine strands
webbed like waterways
in a canal town, as if threading
a secret music we might hear.
Dusk’s own tones, these fruit tree blooms,
swell their false flourishings,
sunset a shimmer of unfeeling gods
who come and go.

4
By wind and rain once more
awakened, I sink in a shattering dawn
to dreamless depths, unsettled water
rising and falling, lotuses floating shoreward
like frail totems of the past, old letters
complaining, accusing, lost filaments
to whatever mind still lives.
Fading stars must soon
be swallowed by the sea,
the world’s wilderness lit
for wounded fish,
wing-shut birds, beasts whose hooves
have finally come to rest
amid so many twists, so many turns.

5
Have you ever sought
on sleepless nights
the faintest rustlings of the stars?
Before we came, the insects hatched,
the fish, a tale that tells how we shall age
like dinosaurs who also walked
and flew trumpeting toward their own absence.
We too might choose to reflect,
striding a ruined landscape
like a downcast soldier
beyond tumbled city walls
spots spring blossoms
opening on the road ahead,
feels the arrival of warm rains
to quench the ancient battlefield.

7
No surprise that one should pluck
a bloodless flower, facing evening’s glow
as if to speak, thoughts more random
than fireflies, but heavier as the clock
turns toward fog and midnight,
dead leaves whirling.

trans. © Diana Shi & George O’Connell with NTU Poetry Translation Workshop

臺灣欒樹

這事發生在不久以前,他們神智
未之能及的水邊,當所有經緯
線索到此都不甚分明或一時
失察便如夢的領域陷入隱晦

那時星辰都已依照座落指派
成型,各自尋到光度合適的位置
冷氣團天上生滅有或無,黑潮
在海底提示詩的音律和意志:

邊緣?從我鎖定的方位東南望去
看得見夕照自對角以剩餘的漏斗
小量過濾到我們青春的峰頂
罕見的飛鼠在露水裏錯愕驚醒

惟恐所向無非宇宙創生後某紀
一些自戕之殘餘,窮寇,暗中以
劫後的廢氣偷襲我新綠的林相
表裏,歸巢的羽類避之惟恐不及

螢光明滅浮沉於盛夏的胸懷
釋出深邃的畏懼,好奇,和創造力
為無邊的黑暗點燈,多層次的天路
一夕盡毀於弔詭的野火

當森嚴的山勢從高處俯瞰,看見
一隊抹香鯨在偏南的水域日夜泅行
不知道是為遷徙,追踪,抑或遊戲
直到先後都在陌生的沙灘上擱淺

流泉迅速循浮雲摺角飛濺
直落新蘚與舊苔的石碐,藤影裏
依稀聽得見地球反面彷彿有女聲
輕歌低吟,久違的那一邊

她略過一些我們早期的共同經驗
寒武紀接近奧陶的魚貝和珊瑚
遲到的爬蟲類,恐龍生與死
一貫快長不已的菇菌,豐草,巨木

直接進入預言裏終將到臨,人與碳
煎熬的世代:山無陵,江水
為竭,冬雷震震,夏雨雪
天地合,只剩得

這海上渺茫的邊緣,日光
輻輳,深淺的風雨過境
赤石罅中競生著絕無僅有
一系列宛轉變色的欒樹林

 

GOLDEN RAINTREES

In those times, beside waters
unseen by human eyes,
unmapped by longitude or latitude,
this world sank toward darkness
like a forgotten dream.

By then the stars had formed
their constellations, already aligned
bright pathways through the skies.
Cold fronts in the stratosphere
came and went, dark currents
deep in the oceans
surged like the pulse of poetic will.

Boundaries? To the southwest,
twilight’s last inflections
fanned between young peaks.
Squirrels already settled
startled in the dew

and birds took frightful wing.
Into green forests spilled the poisoned air
of eruption. The birth pangs,
self-destroying, self-creating
of a whole planet, fluorescent
in high summer’s breast,
awe and creation flaring
in the deep abyss, mountainsides
erased by hellish fire.

Now we gaze from heights
at pods of sperm whales
night and day swimming south,
migrating, hunting,
some beaching far from home.

Spring rains come swift as clouds,
dropping onto jagged, mossy rocks.
Shaded by vines, one can hear,
as if from the other side of earth,
a goddess singing soft and low,

having missed the Cambrian,
Ordovician fish, shells, corals,
late reptiles, the rise and fall of dinosaurs,
early fungi, lush grasses, giant trees.
As prophesied, she stepped into the epoch
when humans wrestled carbon,
flattened mountains, dried rivers to their beds,
made winters thunder
and summers snow, made skies fall,
leaving

this ocean’s horizon, bundled spokes
of sunlight, sweeping winds,
storms that break upon us all.
From the clefts of naked rocks arise
golden raintree forests, shifting shades.

trans. © Diana Shi & George O’Connell with NTU Poetry Translation Workshop

golden raintrees: flowering ornamental tree with autumnal yellow blooms. Native to Asia; propagated worldwide since 18th c.

flattened mountains: this and subsequent images of the stanza derive from a passage in the anonymous Yuefu poem “Shang Ye” (“By Heaven”), Han Dynasty, 206 B.C.-220 A.D.

春分

那時四野凜然無聲齊為野薑倒影
璀璨在溪邊不言語且低頭而有懷舊的
情緒,山風似曾相識,蓄意吹亂鬢腳
帶些許忿恚浮出水面微涼若子夜漣漪
或午時反覆的雲來襲。看那無意間
錯失的手印殘留在迷亂時刻,且猜測
其中訊息一二:隱遁的林妖曾經失路相與
邂逅又怎樣僥倖脫身已不復記憶似乎
那時四野上下萬籟俱寂,遠近惟一發光的是她
單純的影在水底搖動提示東南風將路過提示有情

 

SPRING EQUINOX

Amid the forest’s stately silence,
glints at a riverside
rife with flowering ginger,
the bows of its heavy blossoms
inviting memory. A mountain breeze
familiar, cool as midnight, stirs the water,
mussing my hair almost in rebuke,
calling and dismissing mid-day clouds.
See in the mud of the riverbank
a handprint, hasty, unexpected,
as if to say a forest siren
were lost, and when we approached,
fled like a vanishing memory.
There in the deep solemnity
of wilderness, her sparkling shadow
swayed on the riverbed, promising
the southeast wind would rise,
its own talisman.

trans. © Diana Shi & George O’Connell with NTU Poetry Translation Workshop