Three Poems (詩三首) by Jacky Yuen 阮文略, translated by Nick Admussen

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Three Poems (詩三首)
by Jacky Yuen 阮文略, translated by Nick Admussen

TRAVELLERS 

Want to rent the sort of residence
with a window opening onto vast fields of stars
A light boat at the dock, ready to row out into the universe
Behind the house there’s a train station
where overnight trains shuttle between our world and kingdom come
On its route all stations are nameless and secret
the border between dreams and death, villages undiscovered by humanity
chimneys sometimes plumed with smoke. Want to write down
the peal of those interstellar bells, to make the wind blow the wind chimes
and wait for more people to wake up
to call them to come in, sit around the round table
We are discussing weighty matters of state and family                                                          Passengers from the stars disembark at the dock, more, more
All friends, we drink deeply and sing
We design a new revolutionary flag
and let the angels go ahead to prepare the way
Tonight we care only about making clear-headed dreams
We care only about naming all the new things
On the drill ground of language the soldiers are steeled, the horses fed
Light the lamp in the house,
we are part of the ancient ocean of stars
ready to set off any time, now.                                               

Author’s note: After enduring over ten years of 1 July human rights marches, this year’s [2019] attendance was record-breaking, making it clear that the fire of Hong Kong’s people has not yet been extinguished.

啟程者

想租下一個這樣的住宅
窗口打開就是繁星
碼頭有艇,隨時可划向宇宙
家後有火車站
有來往天國與人間的跨夜列車
途經全是不知名的秘境車站
夢與死的邊緣,未為人知的村落
時有炊煙。好想錄下
那些星際的鐘聲,讓風吹響風鈴
就等待著更多人醒來
招呼他們進門,圍坐在圓桌前
我們討論家國大事
從碼頭登岸的星際來客愈來愈多
都是朋友,我們對酒當歌
設計新的革命旗幟
讓天使們在前先行打點
今晚我們只管做清醒的夢
只管為所有新事物命名
在詞語的校場上厲兵秣馬
把房子的燈亮起,
我們就是悠悠星海中的一分子
整備好了,隨時大夥出發。

注︰堅持了十多年的七一大遊行,今年的人數突破紀錄,可見香港人的火尚未熄滅。

MARCHERS

Nobody hopes to be buried twice over the same patch of ocean
but those fins that sink to the bottom
still come back in the end.

Comets exhaust themselves to come back
each time dragging a long trail of icy shards
like a deep sea fishing net, what we throw in is sometimes stones
liberated by the era, sometimes the stars already streaking our temples

But a generation necessarily has their road and flag
their drumbeat and their warning light
After we walk to the road’s end, its limit births a new index fingerbone
We climb over skyscraper after skyscraper,
until the new bone gets old
the new rainbow has become a bridge for those after us to cross.

If we are destined to walk into the black fog
let us then light up
each lamp in the city, each person.

Author’s note: On 9 June 2019, one million people held a great march, opening a new chapter of resistance by Hong Kong citizens.

遊行者

沒有人希望為同一片海洋葬身兩次
但那些沉下去的鰭
最終還是會回來。

彗星奮力回來
每次都拖曳著長長的冰屑
像捕海的網,我們投入時有石頭
被時代釋放時已是鬢角的星星

但一代人必然有屬於他們的路和旗幟
有他們的鼓聲和燈號
路走盡了就從盡頭生出新的指骨
一直越過高樓和高樓,
待到新的指骨變成舊的
新的彩虹變成後來者要走過的橋。

若注定要走向黑霧裡
我們就此點亮
城市裡的每一盞燈、每一個人。

注︰二零一九年六月九日,一百萬人大遊行,揭開香港公民抗命的新章。

DREAMWALKERS

I see death in a dream, I see a war
In a dream I see a fly from a crack in the era’s crevasse
fly into an iron-gray building, dream the glow of memory
illuminating language, in my dream I see death surrounded

Each person shares the weight of the whole
I also dream of advancing and hesitating, stones
spraying black smoke at the ocean, I dream of feeble, aging wolves
searching for prey to keep living

I see the dark night in a dream, on the street everyone wears raincoats
They stand scattered, their heads lowered, breathing silently
but I don’t know where language is hiding
the characters disappear the moment they’re written on the pillars and walls  

Who will cry out, who will leap
I dream all hope is here
Here: where it falls, flowers blossom
letting life and death meet in dream

Let us dream the dreams of others
like fireflies converging on the river of roof tiles
We have nothing to our name we have removed the last mask
singing a song for the dark nights of Hong Kong

Author’s note: Having had nightmare after nightmare, rather than searching for the end of dreams, it’s better to shed hot blood in the dream, and then sing to your heart’s content.

Translator’s note: This poem refers to many revolutionary and transformative artworks, including Lu Xun’s book Nahan (Call to Arms or Outcry, line 13), Gu Cheng’s “One Generation” (line 9), and Cui Jian’s song Yi wu suo you (Nothing to My Name, line 19).)

夢遊者

我夢見死亡,我夢見戰爭
夢見一隻蒼蠅從時代的裂縫
飛入鐵灰色大樓,夢見記憶發光
照亮詞語,夢見死亡被圍堵

每個人都分擔整體的重量
我又夢見前進和踟躕,石頭
向海洋噴出黑煙,夢見衰老的狼群
為了活下去仍然在搜索獵物

我夢見黑夜,街上全是穿雨衣的人
稀疏地站立,低頭沉默地呼吸著
但是我不知道詞語匿藏的位置
廊柱和牆壁上的字甫寫下即消失

誰去吶喊、誰縱身
我夢見所有希望在這裡
就在這裡:每一個墜落點都開滿了花
讓生與死在夢裡相逢

讓我們夢見他人的夢
像流螢匯聚在磚瓦之河上
我們一無所有我們脫下最後的面具
為香港的黑夜唱歌

注︰做過了一場又一場噩夢,與其尋找夢的盡頭,不如在夢裡揮灑熱血,盡情謳歌。

(Header photograph © Oliver Farry.)

Jacky Yuen

Jacky YuenJacky Yuen 阮文略 (poet) obtained his PhD in Biochemistry (Med) from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and he currently teaches Biology in a local high school. He has published four poetry collections, including A Fox Looking Back and more recently, (2018).

Nick-Admussen.png

Nick Admussen (translator) is an associate professor of Chineseliterature and culture at Cornell University. He is the author of Recite and Refuse: Contemporary Chinese Prose Poetry, the translator of Ya Shi’s poetry collection Floral Mutter, and a poet whose most recent chapbook is titled Stand Back, Don’t Fear the Change. He was the recipient of a 2017 grant from the PEN/Heim fund for translation, has been anthologised in Best New Poets 2018 and Best Short Fictions 2017, and was a 2018 National Poetry Series finalist. Visit his website for more information. 

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