Today is International Translation Day. Translation is about more than just knowing two languages. It’s about knowing two cultures. Translators allow treasures hidden within one culture to be experienced by another. However, with that ability, also comes a lot of responsibility, not just to represent the meaning, nuance and voice of the original text, but also to express things in terms that the target culture’s readers will understand. Some of my readers who have found this website through my translation work, may be interested to see an original text side by side with my translation. Both the English and Chinese text were edited before publication. This is one of the more challenging pieces I have worked on.
I often return to childhood dreams,
Return to that free and boundless starry sky,
Where the vast emptiness was often full of darkness,
But sometimes, burning silver lights the sky,
Sometimes, streams of galloping, dazzling, kaleidoscopic rainbows,
Other times, the whole sky glitters, glorious beyond compare.
A world of multifarious stars, giddying and chaotic……
Such is the memory of childhood reverie,
Stored in the dimension that belongs to the self.
I freely traverse the boundaries of light and dark,
Floating at leisure, completely unconscious
Yet a thousand “sensibilities” within the unconscious
Each “sensibility” concealed, waiting to explode:
Loneliness, despondency, anguish, solitude, anxiety,
Misery, oppression, despair, calm, emptiness, arrogance
Jealousy, anger, excitement, enthusiasm, passion, romance, tenderness……..
The expression of emotion, being intuitive, is more interestingly explained,
And recorded with abstract images,
For everyone to interpret on their own.
Ever since life began in the human world,
Intuitively，although the eyes have not yet opened,
It has found the spirit’s image,
And understood the expression of feeling,
Twitching limbs, resonating with the depths of the heart,
Hands dancing and feet tripping,
Heart rending cries resound in the air,
Pure and innocent music describe reckless, sweet and modulating eulogies of life, filled with emotion.
To cows, grass is beautiful,
Bending their heads down to eat it, is an aesthetic process,
Like babies who,
When being held, naturally know where beauty lies,
Little hands caressing mother’s breasts, keenly sucking on them,
Enjoying the most primitive beauty,
Ten months of gestation, passes aestheticism to the baby,
Thus beauty and life are propagated, never to die out.
“Men at their birth, are naturally good”.
Perception and existence are contradictory,
Perception has repelled existence from time immemorial,
The outside world relentlessly hounds fragile life,
Real life alters the memory of existence,
The doctrines of civilization lead infants towards the future,
The inspiration of perception, alters their purest images of beauty,
Outpourings deep from the heart are slowly vanquished.
Inspiration from capture and resonance,
Releases the power of freedom,
Freely expressing those feelings of freedom,
Freedom already exists.
Because it is treasure buried deep in the ground,
Because it is the ever flowing spring from the plateaus
It is pure, beautiful, and does not suffer from the blasphemies of the human world
It is the most precious wealth from our lives,
It needs our understanding, excavating and interpreting.
The moment before man leaves the human world is pure and beautiful,
It leads man back to nature, back to the incomparable feeling of first coming into the world,
Galloping wildly like a horse free from its reins,
Traversing day and night, towards freedom,
Back to the origins of beauty; to the origins of the spirit;
Here is peace, here is beauty’s home,
Lay down the body that has fully suffered the tribulations of human life,
The spirit rising to the sublime, the soul responding to the call of beauty.
Escape from clamours and ugly civilzation,
Leave the society that skewers human nature and return to Nature.
Return to the fields to feel the childhood’s starry sky,
To wade in the streams,
Naked on the boundless earth, gazing towards the end of the sky,
With the starry sky for company, peace,
Experience truth within silence, and sense the value of the spirit’s existence,
Perceive in the moments of dawn and dusk,
The light of human nature from deep within the heart,
When the sun is about to rise from the edge of the sky,
The earth is at it’s darkest,
Before all sleeping souls are awake, night has already passed in a moment,
The setting sun, reflected in the starry sky, revives,
Bright sunshine beneath the end of the earth,
Only on the borders of night and day,
Can darkness and light be felt,
Past and future.
Composed in Guangzhou, 28 January 2009
From Endless: The Sherman Lin Collection (無垠 ：林學明畫集), Culture and Art Publishing House (Beijing), 2010
Posted in Translation and tagged art, book, china, Chinese, International Translation Day, literature, poetry, translation