[FEATURE] Two New Translations by Lucas Klein: Bian Zhilin and Xi Chuan

Bian Zhilin (1910-2000)

斷章
卞之琳

你站在橋上看風景,看風景的人在樓上看你。
明月裝飾了你的窗子,你裝飾了別人的夢。

FRAGMENT
by Bian Zhilin, translated into English by Lucas Klein

You stand on the bridge overlooking the landscape,
and upstairs someone looking at the landscape looks at you.

The moon adorns your window,
and you adorn somebody’s dream.

Xi Chuan (b. 1963)

在哈爾蓋仰望星空
西川

有一種神秘你無法駕馭
你只能充當旁觀者的角色
聽憑那神秘的力量
從 遙遠的地方發出信號
射出光來,穿透你的心
像今夜,在哈爾蓋
在這個遠離城市的荒涼的
地方,在這青藏高原上的
一個蠶 豆般大小的火車站旁
我抬起頭來眺望星空
這時河漢無聲,鳥翼稀薄
青草向群星瘋狂地生長
馬群忘記了飛翔
風吹著空曠的夜 也吹著我
風吹著未來 也吹著過去
我成為某個人,某間
點著油燈的陋室
而這陋室冰涼的屋頂
被群星的億萬隻腳踩成祭壇
我 像一個領取聖餐的孩子
放大了膽子,但屏住呼吸

STARGAZING ON HA’ERGAI
by Xi Chuan, translated into English by Lucas Klein

There is a mystery you cannot master
and for which you can only fulfil the role of observer
allowing that mysterious force
to emit its signals from afar
to send out light, piercing your heart
like tonight, on Ha’ergai
in this desolate spot so far from any
city, beside a train station the size of a fava bean
on the Qinghai-Tibet plateau
and as I look up to gaze at the stars
the cosmos is so silent, even wings are rare
grass grows wildly toward the constellations
the horses have forgotten how to fly
the wind blows through an empty night and blows through me
the wind blows through the future and it blows through the past
I become somebody, in some
hovel of a room, lighting a lamp
and am trampled on the icy roof of this hovel
into an altar by the constellations’ billion feet
I am like a child taking communion
trying to be brave, holding my breath

How to cite: Klein, Lucas. “Two New Translations by Lucas Klein: Bian Zhilin and Xi Chuan.” Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, 16 Feb. 2021, chajournal.blog/2021/02/16/new-translations/.

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Lucas Klein is a father, writer, translator, and the Translation Editor of Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, as well as Associate Professor of Chinese at the Arizona State University. His translation Notes on the Mosquito: Selected Poems of Xi Chuan (New Directions) won the 2013 Lucien Stryk Prize, and his scholarship and criticism has appeared in Comparative Literature Studies, LARB, Jacket, CLEAR, PMLA, among other venues. Other publications include October Dedications, his translations of the poetry of Mang Ke (Zephyr Press and Chinese University Press, 2018), and contributions to Li Shangyin (New York Review Books, 2018), and the monograph The Organization of Distance: Poetry, Translation, Chineseness (Brill, 2018). His translations of the poetry of Duo Duo, forthcoming from Yale University Press, recently won a PEN/Heim Translation Fund grant. He is one of the shortlisted translators for 2019’s Lucien Stryk Prize. (Photograph of Lucas by Zhai Yongming.)

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