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Dinesh Padisetti Nov 2021
The night is young & sweet
The highway stretches to heaven
Rain kissed & just dry enough
To cruise around my motorbike

Cold wind blowing through my hair
We climb into the hills of Deccan
And we find a scenic spot to camp
To welcome the songbirds & sunrise.
It's one of those beautiful nights again.
Here, in the dark
Eyes burning bright
Campfire's warmth
Crackling and sparks
Marshmallow's burnt -
But just a bit
Here, we sit
And nothing's amiss
And no one's alone
And no one's alone
So deep in my bones
Our summer and kiss...
Michael R Burch Oct 2020
Uyghur Poetry Translations

With my translations I am trying to build awareness of the plight of Uyghur poets and their people, who are being sent in large numbers to Chinese "reeducation" concentration camps which have been praised by Trump as "exactly" what is "needed."

Perhat Tursun (1969-????) is one of the foremost living Uyghur language poets, if he is still alive. Unfortunately, Tursun was "disappeared" into a Chinese "reeducation" concentration camp where extreme psychological torture is the norm. Apparently no one knows his present whereabouts or condition.

Elegy
by Perhat Tursun
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

"Your soul is the entire world."
―Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

Asylum seekers, will you recognize me among the mountain passes' frozen corpses?
Can you identify me here among our Exodus's exiled brothers?
We begged for shelter but they lashed us bare; consider our naked corpses.
When they compel us to accept their massacres, do you know that I am with you?

Three centuries later they resurrect, not recognizing each other,
Their former greatness forgotten.
I happily ingested poison, like a fine wine.
When they search the streets and cannot locate our corpses, do you know that I am with you?

In that tower constructed of skulls you will find my dome as well:
They removed my head to more accurately test their swords' temper.
When before their swords our relationship flees like a flighty lover,
Do you know that I am with you?

When men in fur hats are used for target practice in the marketplace
Where a dying man's face expresses his agony as a bullet cleaves his brain
While the executioner's eyes fail to comprehend why his victim vanishes,...
Seeing my form reflected in that bullet-pierced brain's erratic thoughts,
Do you know that I am with you?

In those days when drinking wine was considered worse than drinking blood,
did you taste the flour ground out in that blood-turned churning mill?
Now, when you sip the wine Ali-Shir Nava'i imagined to be my blood
In that mystical tavern's dark abyssal chambers,
Do you know that I am with you?

TRANSLATOR NOTES: This is my interpretation (not necessarily correct) of the poem's frozen corpses left 300 years in the past. For the Uyghur people the Mongol period ended around 1760 when the Qing dynasty invaded their homeland, then called Dzungaria. Around a million people were slaughtered during the Qing takeover, and the Dzungaria territory was renamed Xinjiang. I imagine many Uyghurs fleeing the slaughters would have attempted to navigate treacherous mountain passes. Many of them may have died from starvation and/or exposure, while others may have been caught and murdered by their pursuers.



The Fog and the Shadows
adapted from a novel by Perhat Tursun
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

“I began to realize the fog was similar to the shadows.”

I began to realize that, just as the exact shape of darkness is a shadow,
even so the exact shape of fog is disappearance
and the exact shape of a human being is also disappearance.
At this moment it seemed my body was vanishing into the human form’s final state.

After I arrived here,
it was as if the danger of getting lost
and the desire to lose myself
were merging strangely inside me.

While everything in that distant, gargantuan city where I spent my five college years felt strange to me; and even though the skyscrapers, highways, ditches and canals were built according to a single standard and shape, so that it wasn’t easy to differentiate them, still I never had the feeling of being lost. Everyone there felt like one person and they were all folded into each other. It was as if their faces, voices and figures had been gathered together like a shaman’s jumbled-up hair.

Even the men and women seemed identical.
You could only tell them apart by stripping off their clothes and examining them.
The men’s faces were beardless like women’s and their skin was very delicate and unadorned.
I was always surprised that they could tell each other apart.
Later I realized it wasn’t just me: many others were also confused.

For instance, when we went to watch the campus’s only TV in a corridor of a building where the seniors stayed when they came to improve their knowledge. Those elderly Uyghurs always argued about whether someone who had done something unusual in an earlier episode was the same person they were seeing now. They would argue from the beginning of the show to the end. Other people, who couldn’t stand such endless nonsense, would leave the TV to us and stalk off.

Then, when the classes began, we couldn’t tell the teachers apart.
Gradually we became able to tell the men from the women
and eventually we able to recognize individuals.
But other people remained identical for us.

The most surprising thing for me was that the natives couldn’t differentiate us either.
For instance, two police came looking for someone who had broken windows during a fight at a restaurant and had then run away.
They ordered us line up, then asked the restaurant owner to identify the culprit.
He couldn’t tell us apart even though he inspected us very carefully.
He said we all looked so much alike that it was impossible to tell us apart.
Sighing heavily, he left.



The Encounter
by Abdurehim Otkur
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I asked her, why aren’t you afraid? She said her God.
I asked her, anything else? She said her People.
I asked her, anything more? She said her Soul.
I asked her if she was content? She said, I am Not.



The Distance
by Tahir Hamut
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

We can’t exclude the cicadas’ serenades.
Behind the convex glass of the distant hospital building
the nurses watch our outlandish party
with their absurdly distorted faces.

Drinking watered-down liquor,
half-****, descanting through the open window,
we speak sneeringly of life, love, girls.
The cicadas’ serenades keep breaking in,
wrecking critical parts of our dissertations.

The others dream up excuses to ditch me
and I’m left here alone.

The cosmopolitan pyramid
of drained bottles
makes me feel
like I’m in a Turkish bath.

I lock the door:
Time to get back to work!

I feel like doing cartwheels.
I feel like self-annihilation.



Refuge of a Refugee
by Ablet Abdurishit Berqi aka Tarim
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I lack a passport,
so I can’t leave legally.
All that’s left is for me to smuggle myself to safety,
but I’m afraid I’ll be beaten black and blue at the border
and I can’t afford the trafficker.

I’m a smuggler of love,
though love has no national identity.
Poetry is my refuge,
where a refugee is most free.

The following excerpts, translated by Anne Henochowicz, come from an essay written by Tang Danhong about her final meeting with Dr. Ablet Abdurishit Berqi, aka Tarim. Tarim is a reference to the Tarim Basin and its Uyghur inhabitants...

I’m convinced that the poet Tarim Ablet Berqi the associate professor at the Xinjiang Education Institute, has been sent to a “concentration camp for educational transformation.” This scholar of Uyghur literature who conducted postdoctoral research at Israel’s top university, what kind of “educational transformation” is he being put through?

Chen Quanguo, the Communist Party secretary of Xinjiang, has said it’s “like the instruction at school, the order of the military, and the security of prison. We have to break their blood relations, their networks, and their roots.”

On a scorching summer day, Tarim came to Tel Aviv from Haifa. In a few days he would go back to Urumqi. I invited him to come say goodbye and once again prepared Sichuan cold noodles for him. He had already unfriended me on Facebook. He said he couldn’t eat, he was busy, and had to hurry back to Haifa. He didn’t even stay for twenty minutes. I can’t even remember, did he sit down? Did he have a glass of water? Yet this farewell shook me to my bones.

He said, “Maybe when I get off the plane, before I enter the airport, they’ll take me to a separate room and beat me up, and I’ll disappear.”

Looking at my shocked face, he then said, “And maybe nothing will happen …”

His expression was sincere. To be honest, the Tarim I saw rarely smiled. Still, layer upon layer blocked my powers of comprehension: he’s a poet, a writer, and a scholar. He’s an associate professor at the Xinjiang Education Institute. He can get a passport and come to Israel for advanced studies. When he goes back he’ll have an offer from Sichuan University to be a professor of literature … I asked, “Beat you up at the airport? Disappear? On what grounds?”

“That’s how Xinjiang is,” he said without any surprise in his voice. “When a Uyghur comes back from being abroad, that can happen.”…



This poem helps us understand the nomadic lifestyle of many Uyghurs, the hardships they endure, and the character it builds...

Iz (“Traces”)
by Abdurehim Otkur
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

We were children when we set out on this journey;
Now our grandchildren ride horses.

We were just a few when we set out on this arduous journey;
Now we're a large caravan leaving traces in the desert.

We leave our traces scattered in desert dunes' valleys
Where many of our heroes lie buried in sandy graves.

But don't say they were abandoned: amid the cedars
their resting places are decorated by springtime flowers!

We left the tracks, the station... the crowds recede in the distance;
The wind blows, the sand swirls, but here our indelible trace remains.

The caravan continues, we and our horses become thin,
But our great-grand-children will one day rediscover those traces.

The original Uyghur poem:

Yax iduq muxkul seperge atlinip mangghanda biz,
Emdi atqa mingidek bolup qaldi ene nevrimiz.
Az iduq muxkul seperge atlinip chiqanda biz,
Emdi chong karvan atalduq, qaldurup chollerde iz.
Qaldi iz choller ara, gayi davanlarda yene,
Qaldi ni-ni arslanlar dexit cholde qevrisiz.
Qevrisiz qaldi dimeng yulghun qizarghan dalida,
Gul-chichekke pukinur tangna baharda qevrimiz.
Qaldi iz, qaldi menzil, qaldi yiraqta hemmisi,
Chiqsa boran, kochse qumlar, hem komulmes izimiz.
Tohtimas karvan yolida gerche atlar bek oruq,
Tapqus hichbolmisa, bu izni bizning nevrimiz, ya chevrimiz.

Other poems of note by Abdurehim Otkur include "I Call Forth Spring" and "Waste, You Traitors, Waste!"



My Feelings
by Dolqun Yasin
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The light sinking through the ice and snow,
The hollyhock blossoms reddening the hills like blood,
The proud peaks revealing their ******* to the stars,
The morning-glories embroidering the earth’s greenery,
Are not light,
Not hollyhocks,
Not peaks,
Not morning-glories;
They are my feelings.

The tears washing the mothers’ wizened faces,
The flower-like smiles suddenly brightening the girls’ visages,
The hair turning white before age thirty,
The night which longs for light despite the sun’s laughter,
Are not tears,
Not smiles,
Not hair,
Not night;
They are my nomadic feelings.

Now turning all my sorrow to passion,
Bequeathing to my people all my griefs and joys,
Scattering my excitement like flowers festooning fields,
I harvest all these, then tenderly glean my poem.

Therefore the world is this poem of mine,
And my poem is the world itself.



To My Brother the Warrior
by Téyipjan Éliyow
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

When I accompanied you,
the commissioners called me a child.
If only I had been a bit taller
I might have proved myself in battle!

The commission could not have known
my commitment, despite my youth.
If only they had overlooked my age and enlisted me,
I'd have given that enemy rabble hell!

Now, brother, I’m an adult.
Doubtless, I’ll join the service soon.
Soon enough, I’ll be by your side,
battling the enemy: I’ll never surrender!

Another poem of note by Téyipjan Éliyow is "Neverending Song."

Keywords/Tags: Uyghur, translation, Uighur, Xinjiang, elegy, Kafka, China, Chinese, reeducation, prison, concentration camp, desert, nomad, nomadic, race, racism, discrimination, Islam, Islamic, Muslim, mrbuyghur



Chinese Poets: English Translations

These are modern English translations of poems by some of the greatest Chinese poets of all time, including Du Fu, Huang E, Huang O, Li Bai, Li Ching-jau, Li Qingzhao, Po Chu-I, Tzu Yeh, Yau Ywe-Hwa and Xu Zhimo.



Lines from Laolao Ting Pavilion
by Li Bai (701-762)  
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The spring breeze knows partings are bitter;
The willow twig knows it will never be green again.



A Toast to Uncle Yun
by Li Bai (701-762)  
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Water reforms, though we slice it with our swords;
Sorrow returns, though we drown it with our wine.

Li Bai (701-762)    was a romantic figure who has been called the Lord Byron of Chinese poetry. He and his friend Du Fu (712-770)    were the leading poets of the Tang Dynasty era, which has been called the 'Golden Age of Chinese poetry.' Li Bai is also known as Li Po, Li Pai, Li T'ai-po, and Li T'ai-pai.



Moonlit Night
by Du Fu (712-770)  
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Alone in your bedchamber
you gaze out at the Fu-Chou moon.

Here, so distant, I think of our children,
too young to understand what keeps me away
or to remember Ch'ang-an...

A perfumed mist, your hair's damp ringlets!
In the moonlight, your arms' exquisite jade!

Oh, when can we meet again within your bed's drawn curtains,
and let the heat dry our tears?



Moonlit Night
by Du Fu (712-770)  
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Tonight the Fu-Chou moon
watches your lonely bedroom.

Here, so distant, I think of our children,
too young to understand what keeps me away
or to remember Ch'ang-an...

By now your hair will be damp from your bath
and fall in perfumed ringlets;
your jade-white arms so exquisite in the moonlight!

Oh, when can we meet again within those drawn curtains,
and let the heat dry our tears?



Lone Wild Goose
by Du Fu (712-770)  
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The abandoned goose refuses food and drink;
he cries querulously for his companions.

Who feels kinship for that strange wraith
as he vanishes eerily into the heavens?

You watch it as it disappears;
its plaintive calls cut through you.

The indignant crows ignore you both:
the bickering, bantering multitudes.

Du Fu (712-770)    is also known as Tu Fu. The first poem is addressed to the poet's wife, who had fled war with their children. Ch'ang-an is an ironic pun because it means 'Long-peace.'



The Red Cockatoo
by Po Chu-I (772-846)  
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

A marvelous gift from Annam—
a red cockatoo,
bright as peach blossom,
fluent in men's language.

So they did what they always do
to the erudite and eloquent:
they created a thick-barred cage
and shut it up.

Po Chu-I (772-846)    is best known today for his ballads and satirical poems. Po Chu-I believed poetry should be accessible to commoners and is noted for his simple diction and natural style. His name has been rendered various ways in English: Po Chu-I, Po Chü-i, Bo Juyi and Bai Juyi.



The Migrant Songbird
Li Qingzhao aka Li Ching-chao (c.1084-1155)  
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The migrant songbird on the nearby yew
brings tears to my eyes with her melodious trills;
this fresh downpour reminds me of similar spills:
another spring gone, and still no word from you...



The Plum Blossoms
Li Qingzhao aka Li Ching-chao (c.1084-1155)  
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

This year with the end of autumn
I find my reflection graying at the edges.
Now evening gales hammer these ledges...
what shall become of the plum blossoms?

Li Qingzhao was a poet and essayist during the Song dynasty. She is generally considered to be one of the greatest Chinese poets. In English she is known as Li Qingzhao, Li Ching-chao and The Householder of Yi'an.



Star Gauge
Sui Hui (c.351-394 BC)  
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

So much lost so far away
on that distant rutted road.

That distant rutted road
wounds me to the heart.

Grief coupled with longing,
so much lost so far away.

Grief coupled with longing
wounds me to the heart.

This house without its master;
the bed curtains shimmer, gossamer veils.

The bed curtains shimmer, gossamer veils,
and you are not here.

Such loneliness! My adorned face
lacks the mirror's clarity.

I see by the mirror's clarity
my Lord is not here. Such loneliness!

Sui Hui, also known as Su Hui and Lady Su, appears to be the first female Chinese poet of note. And her 'Star Gauge' or 'Sphere Map' may be the most impressive poem written in any language to this day, in terms of complexity. 'Star Gauge' has been described as a palindrome or 'reversible' poem, but it goes far beyond that. According to contemporary sources, the original poem was shuttle-woven on brocade, in a circle, so that it could be read in multiple directions. Due to its shape the poem is also called Xuanji Tu ('Picture of the Turning Sphere') . The poem is now generally placed in a grid or matrix so that the Chinese characters can be read horizontally, vertically and diagonally. The story behind the poem is that Sui Hui's husband, Dou Tao, the governor of Qinzhou, was exiled to the desert. When leaving his wife, Dou swore to remain faithful. However, after arriving at his new post, he took a concubine. Lady Su then composed a circular poem, wove it into a piece of silk embroidery, and sent it to him. Upon receiving the masterwork, he repented. It has been claimed that there are up to 7,940 ways to read the poem. My translation above is just one of many possible readings of a portion of the poem.



Reflection
Xu Hui (627-650)  
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Confronting the morning she faces her mirror;
Her makeup done at last, she paces back and forth awhile.
It would take vast mountains of gold to earn one contemptuous smile,
So why would she answer a man's summons?

Due to the similarities in names, it seems possible that Sui Hui and Xu Hui were the same poet, with some of her poems being discovered later, or that poems written later by other poets were attributed to her.



Waves
Zhai Yongming (1955-)  
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The waves manhandle me like a midwife pounding my back relentlessly,
and so the world abuses my body—
accosting me, bewildering me, according me a certain ecstasy...



Monologue
Zhai Yongming (1955-)  
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I am a wild thought, born of the abyss
and—only incidentally—of you. The earth and sky
combine in me—their concubine—they consolidate in my body.

I am an ordinary embryo, encased in pale, watery flesh,
and yet in the sunlight I dazzle and amaze you.

I am the gentlest, the most understanding of women.
Yet I long for winter, the interminable black night, drawn out to my heart's bleakest limit.

When you leave, my pain makes me want to ***** my heart up through my mouth—
to destroy you through love—where's the taboo in that?

The sun rises for the rest of the world, but only for you do I focus the hostile tenderness of my body.
I have my ways.

A chorus of cries rises. The sea screams in my blood but who remembers me?
What is life?

Zhai Yongming is a contemporary Chinese poet, born in Chengdu in 1955. She was one of the instigators and prime movers of the 'Black Tornado' of women's poetry that swept China in 1986-1989. Since then Zhai has been regarded as one of China's most prominent poets.



Pyre
Guan Daosheng (1262-1319)  
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

You and I share so much desire:
this love―like a fire—
that ends in a pyre's
charred coffin.



'Married Love' or 'You and I' or 'The Song of You and Me'
Guan Daosheng (1262-1319)  
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

You and I shared a love that burned like fire:
two lumps of clay in the shape of Desire
molded into twin figures. We two.
Me and you.

In life we slept beneath a single quilt,
so in death, why any guilt?
Let the skeptics keep scoffing:
it's best to share a single coffin.

Guan Daosheng (1262-1319)    is also known as Kuan Tao-Sheng, Guan Zhongji and Lady Zhongji. A famous poet of the early Yuan dynasty, she has also been called 'the most famous female painter and calligrapher in the Chinese history... remembered not only as a talented woman, but also as a prominent figure in the history of bamboo painting.' She is best known today for her images of nature and her tendency to inscribe short poems on her paintings.



Tzu Yeh (circa 400 BC)  
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I heard my love was going to Yang-chou
So I accompanied him as far as Ch'u-shan.
For just a moment as he held me in his arms
I thought the swirling river ceased flowing and time stood still.



Tzu Yeh (circa 400 BC)  
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Will I ever hike up my dress for you again?
Will my pillow ever caress your arresting face?



Tzu Yeh (circa 400 BC)  
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Night descends...
I let my silken hair spill down my shoulders as I part my thighs over my lover.
Tell me, is there any part of me not worthy of being loved?



Tzu Yeh (circa 400 BC)  
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I will wear my robe loose, not bothering with a belt;
I will stand with my unpainted face at the reckless window;
If my petticoat insists on fluttering about, shamelessly,
I'll blame it on the unruly wind!



Tzu Yeh (circa 400 BC)  
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

When he returns to my embrace,
I'll make him feel what no one has ever felt before:
Me absorbing him like water
Poured into a wet clay jar.



Tzu Yeh (circa 400 BC)  
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Bare branches tremble in a sudden breeze.
Night deepens.
My lover loves me,
And I am pleased that my body's beauty pleases him.



Tzu Yeh (circa 400 BC)  
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Do you not see
that we
have become like branches of a single tree?



Tzu Yeh (circa 400 BC)  
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I could not sleep with the full moon haunting my bed!
I thought I heard―here, there, everywhere―
disembodied voices calling my name!
Helplessly I cried 'Yes! ' to the phantom air!



Tzu Yeh (circa 400 BC)  
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I have brought my pillow to the windowsill
so come play with me, tease me, as in the past...
Or, with so much resentment and so few kisses,
how much longer can love last?



Tzu Yeh (circa 400 BC)  
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

When she approached you on the bustling street, how could you say no?
But your disdain for me is nothing new.
Squeaking hinges grow silent on an unused door
where no one enters anymore.



Tzu Yeh (circa 400 BC)  
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I remain constant as the Northern Star
while you rush about like the fickle sun:
rising in the East, drooping in the West.

Tzŭ-Yeh (or Tzu Yeh)    was a courtesan of the Jin dynasty era (c.400 BC)    also known as Lady Night or Lady Midnight. Her poems were pinyin ('midnight songs') . Tzŭ-Yeh was apparently a 'sing-song' girl, perhaps similar to a geisha trained to entertain men with music and poetry. She has also been called a 'wine shop girl' and even a professional concubine! Whoever she was, it seems likely that Rihaku (Li-Po)    was influenced by the lovely, touching (and often very ****)    poems of the 'sing-song' girl. Centuries later, Arthur Waley was one of her translators and admirers. Waley and Ezra Pound knew each other, and it seems likely that they got together to compare notes at Pound's soirees, since Pound was also an admirer and translator of Chinese poetry. Pound's most famous translation is his take on Li-Po's 'The River Merchant's Wife: A Letter.' If the ancient 'sing-song' girl influenced Li-Po and Pound, she was thus an influence―perhaps an important influence―on English Modernism. The first Tzŭ-Yeh poem makes me think that she was, indeed, a direct influence on Li-Po and Ezra Pound.―Michael R. Burch



The Day after the Rain
Lin Huiyin (1904-1955)  
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I love the day after the rain
and the meadow's green expanses!
My heart endlessly rises with wind,
gusts with wind...
away the new-mown grasses and the fallen leaves...
away the clouds like smoke...
vanishing like smoke...



Music Heard Late at Night
Lin Huiyin (1904-1955)  
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

for Xu Zhimo

I blushed,
hearing the lovely nocturnal tune.

The music touched my heart;
I embraced its sadness, but how to respond?

The pattern of life was established eons ago:
so pale are the people's imaginations!

Perhaps one day You and I
can play the chords of hope together.

It must be your fingers gently playing
late at night, matching my sorrow.

Lin Huiyin (1904-1955) , also known as Phyllis Lin and Lin Whei-yin, was a Chinese architect, historian, novelist and poet. Xu Zhimo died in a plane crash in 1931, allegedly flying to meet Lin Huiyin.



Saying Goodbye to Cambridge Again
Xu Zhimo (1897-1931)  
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Quietly I take my leave,
as quietly as I came;
quietly I wave good-bye
to the sky's dying flame.

The riverside's willows
like lithe, sunlit brides
reflected in the waves
move my heart's tides.

Weeds moored in dark sludge
sway here, free of need,
in the Cam's gentle wake...
O, to be a waterweed!

Beneath shady elms
a nebulous rainbow
crumples and reforms
in the soft ebb and flow.

Seek a dream? Pole upstream
to where grass is greener;
rig the boat with starlight;
sing aloud of love's splendor!

But how can I sing
when my song is farewell?
Even the crickets are silent.
And who should I tell?

So quietly I take my leave,
as quietly as I came;
gently I flick my sleeves...
not a wisp will remain.

(6 November 1928)  

Xu Zhimo's most famous poem is this one about leaving Cambridge. English titles for the poem include 'On Leaving Cambridge, ' 'Second Farewell to Cambridge, ' 'Saying Goodbye to Cambridge Again, '  and 'Taking Leave of Cambridge Again.'



These are my modern English translations of poems by the Chinese poet Huang E (1498-1569) , also known as Huang Xiumei. She has been called the most outstanding female poet of the Ming Dynasty, and her husband its most outstanding male poet. Were they poetry's first power couple? Her father Huang Ke was a high-ranking official of the Ming court and she married Yang Shen, the prominent son of Grand Secretary Yang Tinghe. Unfortunately for the young power couple, Yang Shen was exiled by the emperor early in their marriage and they lived largely apart for 30 years. During their long separations they would send each other poems which may belong to a genre of Chinese poetry I have dubbed 'sorrows of the wild geese' …

Sent to My Husband
by Huang E
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The wild geese never fly beyond Hengyang...
how then can my brocaded words reach Yongchang?
Like wilted willow flowers I am ill-fated indeed;
in that far-off foreign land you feel similar despair.
'Oh, to go home, to go home! ' you implore the calendar.
'Oh, if only it would rain, if only it would rain! ' I complain to the heavens.
One hears hopeful rumors that you might soon be freed...
but when will the Golden **** rise in Yelang?

A star called the Golden **** was a symbol of amnesty to the ancient Chinese. Yongchang was a hot, humid region of Yunnan to the south of Hengyang, and was presumably too hot and too far to the south for geese to fly there.



Luo Jiang's Second Complaint
by Huang E
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The green hills vanished,
pedestrians passed by
disappearing beyond curves.

The geese grew silent, the horseshoes timid.

Winter is the most annoying season!

A lone goose vanished into the heavens,
the trees whispered conspiracies in Pingwu,
and people huddling behind buildings shivered.



Bitter Rain, an Aria of the Yellow Oriole
by Huang E
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

These ceaseless rains make the spring shiver:
even the flowers and trees look cold!
The roads turn to mud;
the river's eyes are tired and weep into in a few bays;
the mountain clouds accumulate like ***** dishes,
and the end of the world seems imminent, if jejune.

I find it impossible to send books:
the geese are ruthless and refuse to fly south to Yunnan!



Broken-Hearted Poem
by Huang E
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

My tears cascade into the inkwell;
my broken heart remains at a loss for words;
ever since we held hands and said farewell,
I have been too listless to paint my eyebrows;
no medicine can cure my night-sweats,
no wealth repurchase our lost youth;
and how can I persuade that ****** bird singing in the far hills
to tell a traveler south of the Yangtze to return home?
isabella Jul 2020
Love is reckless, not brave,
Love is selfish and selfless all in one,
Love is faithful, stupid, kind,
Love is all the simple things, but rewind

And love is pain, confusion,
Love is a battle won but a soul lost,
Love is a storm, the pelting rain like stones
Love is the plunging distance between the sky and the ocean.

Love is the touch of skin on skin,
Smiles and laughter at the end of the day,
Crackling bonfires and whispers of secrets,
The smell and texture of her hair.

Love is the sound of bullets firing,
Love is the feeling of dirt between toes,
Love is the groggy bewilderment of morning,
Love is the walk down a hill washed with dew.

Love is being late to all meals, except for dessert,
Love is passing plates around, clinking silverware,
Love is the scrape of chairs and static of noises,
Love is the shape of his eyes when he glances around.

Love is the smell of the air after the rain,
Love is the droplets running down his face,
Love is the pen brushing across the paper,
Love is the bunk beds and sleeping bags and chatter.

Love is the sky, the river, the mountain, and the meadow,
Love is the flashlights’ light and the stars brighter,
Love is the loneliness in the field of the empty night,
Love is the loose circle of young and old.

Love is lullabies at night, crevices of her face,
Love is the sound of soft rain against the roof,
Love is the breeze blowing through the open window,
Love is teasing and joking and breathless joy.

Love is a warm feeling in the chest,
An intertwining of fingers, a touch to the hair,
Love is a braid coming undone gradually,
Love is a heart that is beating endlessly.
Amanda Kay Burke Dec 2019
Waiting quietly in line at the age of nine
Wet hair clinging to nervous skin
Remembering previous summers
Past attempts I failed to swim

To pass you must bring yourself
To the water trampoline and back to the dock
Then tread water for thirty seconds
By then arms feel like rocks

My friends wished me luck
Before into the water I leapt
Pushed my muscles through the cold
As I surfaced from the murky depths

I reached the looming yellow island
Turned around, feet on the ladder, and kicked
I used that small bit of extra momentum
To keep paddling  though lungs constrict

When I find myself back at the wooden dock
Then final countdown starts
Each cell in my body is aching
This is the last and hardest part

Fighting with the freezing lake
The test is nearly done
Just as I am about to give up
5..4..3..2..1!
Day 20: write a narrative poem about a childhood memory

Mine is about passing the swim test at bible camp and being allowed in the deep part of the lake
Kayley Brayz Nov 2019
The stars so beautiful, filled with beauty and light,
Sparkling and shining so bright,
Up in the vast starry beautiful night,
Oh, what a beautiful wondrous sight…

The wolfs howl at the moon,
The stars are so beautiful, the night far from noon,
The beautiful night is starry while the air being windless and cool,
To anyone who never seen stars, this beauty will make the person drool…

A comet zooms above in the night sky,
Speeding so fast, up so high,
A bunny hops by, such a little cutie,
An owl hoots by me, maybe like me too, enjoying the beauty…

The grass sways from the breeze,
As I stare at the sky I freeze,
The stars are so beautiful, like little sparkling white gems,
It's the Almighty One's creation, and the stars are one of His beautiful emblems…

The night sky, full of galaxies and inspiration,
I stare in awe, at the Almighty One's creation.
The oaks below the stars, lit by the soft gentle light of the moon,
As I stare in wonder, I know I will fall asleep soon…

I watch how a few light purple clouds by the moon pass,
I smile, laying by my camp tent on the cool Spring grass,
My eyelids start closing slowly over my eyes,
Closing my view from the beautiful night skies…

I fall asleep gently and slowly, my dreams showing me paranomas of the sky,
The wolfs howl at the moon, a bunny munches on the grass, while the owl hoots and soars so high,
Seen clearly by the beauty above,
While I miss the view by sleeping like a happy warm dove…




-Mishka Wayz
I had nothing to create, so I randomly created this. Sorry if there are any typos and / or it makes no sense. But otherwise, I tried ^^
Stan Oct 2019
The fire
And the warmth
The people
That make me
Happy

What you can
Call home
Are the ones
You call
Family
laura Jul 2019
The time has finally come,
it feels like I've been waiting,
and waiting,
and waiting.
It's finally a time,
where I can forget about everything,
and just have fun.
My church camp that happens once a year is finally here. Best time of the year
Lost in my Head Jul 2019
Maybe I’ll finally start writing well
When I finally figure out who I’m writing about
Because it always starts with you
But I really don’t mind
Y’all I can’t even express how amazing last week was
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