[FEATURE] Two New Translations by Lucas Klein: Duo Duo and Bian Zhlin

Duo Duo (b. 1957)

晚祷
多多

犹如播种者对着收割者
一对父母,分得开开地
垂首,看一个男孩
从地底下看他们
那被借予生者的光
就又被挪远了一点

一片砍过的禾地
便把弯腰者的风景
拿进晚祷——黑夜的粮食
当铲上的落日对着
男孩眼中的落日,去
集中这苦——那整块的光芒

当葬礼,铲形的波浪
落日平静的果实,要求我们
重新接受麦束的约束……

EVENSONG
by Duo Duo, translated into English by Lucas Klein

as is the sower to the reaper
a pair of parents separatedly
hang their heads, to see a boy
looking at them from below the ground
the light granted to the living
is pushed now a little further away

a field of crops cut and dropped
turns a bent waist landscape
into evensong—night’s grain made
sunset on the spade, against
the setting sun in the boy’s eyes, go
concentrate this bitterness—that entire ray of light

made a funeral, spade-shaped waves
sunset’s serene fruit, demanding
we accept anew the wheat sheaf’s binds

Bian Zhilin (1910-2000)

圓寶盒
卞之琳

我幻想在哪兒(天河裡?)
撈到了一隻圓寶盒,
裝的是幾顆珍珠:
一顆晶瑩的水銀
掩有全世界的色相,
一顆金黃的燈火
籠罩有一場華宴,
一顆新鮮的雨點
含有你昨夜的歎氣……
別上什麼鐘表店
聽你的青春被蠶食,
別上什麼古董鋪
買你家祖父的舊擺設。
你看我的圓寶盒
跟了我的船順流
而行了,雖然艙裡人
永遠在藍天的懷裡,
雖然你們的握手
是橋!是橋!可是橋
也搭在我的圓寶盒裡;
而我的圓寶盒在你們
或他們也許就是
好掛在耳邊的一顆
珍珠——寶石?——星?

THE ROUND JEWEL BOX
by Bian Zhilin, translated into English by Lucas Klein

I imagine snatching from someplace (the Milky Way?)
a round jewel box
containing several pearls:
one translucent mercury
concealing the sensual spectrum of the world,
one golden illumination
enshrouding a glorious banquet,
one fresh raindrop
containing your sighs last night …
Don’t go to watch shops
to hear your youth getting eaten up by silkworms,
and don’t go to antique stores
to buy your grandfather’s old knickknacks.
Look at my round jewel box
flowing with my boat
downstream, even though everyone in the cabin everyone
is in the eternal embrace of the sky,
even though your handshakes
are bridges—bridges! But bridges
too are built inside my round jewel box,
and perhaps for you, or them,
it is something to wear on the ear,
a pearl—a jewel—a star?

How to cite: Klein, Lucas. “Two New Translations by Lucas Klein: Duo Duo and Bian Zhilin.” Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, 26 Feb. 2021, chajournal.blog/2021/02/26/duo-duo-and-bian-zhlin/.

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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 StudiesLARBJacketCLEARPMLA, 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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