Love, Wine & Nature in the Ever-Living China I: Feng Love Poems

Posted on Updated on

Shen_Zhou._Reading_in_Autumn_Scenery.Palace_Museum_Beijing.jpg
Shen Zhou

With the Coronavirus kicking in the global lock-down, its time for everyone to reflect & maybe look at projects that have been lying gathering dust for a while. In my case its the compilation of the very best of a certain William Dolby’s translations of ancient Chinese poetry. A brilliant, extremely prolofic man, Dolby has unfortunately passed away, leaving his son as the custodian of his works. Last year I contacted said son, Ieuan, who very kindly sent me a few books – about 8 in total.

I am now in the process of diving into thoise 8 books & digging out the nuggets, all of which I am collating under the umbrella term, LOVE, WINE & NATURE IN THE EVER-LIVING CHINA. The idea is to provide a poetic hotline to a most wonderful time of humanity – millennia before the technocracies in which we dwell. I hope the readers of Mumble Words will deligth as much as I have in Dolby’s genius – I will be changing the word of two here & there, & scribble out stanzas as well, leading to a final result which I believe will benefit the world a great deal.

The first selection of poems are being made from the ‘SHI-CHING,‘ (tr. songs-lyric-warp/weave), China’s earliest poetry anthology. It was compiled c.500 BC in the age of Confucious, who many scholars believe composed new music for the songs. Drawn from all the regions of ancient China, the oldest material goes back to the Shang Dynasty (1766-1122 BC) & are a mixture of court songs, war songs, & of course romantic numbers. It is of the latter sort,l known as the Feng (folk-love-songs) that we shall begin what will become a long essay into Chinese poetry, the culmination of which should be a brand new anthology for the 21st century. The names under the titles, by the way, are the region from where the song was drawn.

 


CURLY EARS
Chou South

Cull & cull the Curly Ears – cerastium,
Don’t fill my lopsided shallow-fronted basket;
Sighing for the one I’m yearning for in my breast,
I put it aside, leave it on the Chou Road.

I go up into the rock-strewn hills,
Till my horses are ill with exhaustion;
For a while I pour wine from the rhinoceros-horn jar,
To stop myself from greiving on & on.

I go up onto the rocky earth-hill summit,
Till my horses are sick with the effort;
My charioteer is poorly now,
&, oh, how I’m sighing now.

GATHERING THE WHITE DAISIES
Shao South

Where is she going to gather the fecund white daisy?
She’s going to the pools & the islets;
Where is she going to employ them?
In the sacriificial services of her lord.

Where is she going to gather the fecund white daisy?
She’s going in among the mountain brooks’
Where is she going to employ them?
In the palace of her lord.

She has an abundance of hair-jewels,
In the pre-dawn she’s with her lord;
She has such a luxuriance of hair-jewels,
As she turns back & goes home.

windandsnow.jpg

THE WIND
Pei

There’s wind, & its violent, moreover,
When you look around at me, you smile,
Your jokes are wild & your laughter scorching,
& deep in my heart I lament over that!

There’s wind & its flying dusr filling the air, moreover,
Its a favour when you agree to come to me!
If you don’t come & go with me,
I long for you endlessly.

There’s wind, & its overcast, moreover,
No sun, & overcast.
When I go to bed, I stay awake, don;t sleep,
Longing for you, I keep on sneezing.

The cloud-covered skies are dark overcast,
The thunder rumbles loud.

LIFE-GIVING EASTERN BREEZE
Pei

The life-giving eastern breeze gently shushes,
Bringing overcast skies & rain;
I strove to be your soul-mate,
You shouldn’t have got angry with me.
When you pick radishes & turnips,
Don;t you include their roots!
If you hadn’t gone against the love between us,
I’d have died together with you at the same time as you die.

I travel the road slowly tarrying,
Deep inside my heart unwilling;
Not a long way, indeed a short onw,
You only saw me off to the threshold of your door!
Who says that the sow-thistle is bitter!
Its as sweet as shepherd’s purse;
You rejoice in your new bride,
As if she were your elder or younger brother!

Alas you didn’t have affection for me,
But on the contrary treated me as an enemy;
Since you warded off my goodwill,
What I was selling wouldn’t sell.
In the old days, I lived in nervousness & at the end of my resources
When you tumbl’d into calamity;
When we’d survived that & flourish’d,
You liken’d me to poison.

I had some fine dried vegetables in store,
Which, to be sure, were to guard against the winter,
You rejoice in your new bride,
& used me to gaurd against hard times.
You were rough, you were wildly enraged,
& you had me hard toil;
You didn’t recall the old days,
When you & I were in love!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s