Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Not A Love Poem - Tu Yun-Hsieh

Biographical info on Tu Yu-Hsieh (1920?- ) is hard to come by in English-language sources. Even the translator of this poem, who was a student with him at National Southwest Associated University in 1940, isn't certain of his birth-year. Soon after, Yu-Hsieh went from student-scholar to soldier in the Burma theater of WWII to fight the Japanese invaders. (He also was not just an ordinary soldier: he was a sniper, the most at-once-personal-yet-distant way to kill.) At the time (1962) of my source for the poem, Tu was still alive, so we know he survived the war. I'd be curious to know if he survived the Cultural Revolution (1967-1976) given that his poetry's influences and lyricism owed more to English writers, particularly W.H. Auden (who visited China during WWII), than to the Communists co-opting of culture for political purposes. (The beginning of the second verse is a bit awkward: I suspect it's from the translation, as the translator acknowledges having to "fill in the blanks" a bit in a number of them, in order to get the meaning across. I think that, here, it takes closer reading to get that he is talking about policing his inner self (the city) to control his jealousy.)
Not A Love Poem
                                                      transl. by Kai-Yu Hsu      

The mountains grow somber, and trees crowd together;
The flowers and herbs lose their colors.
My dear, more than ever are your eyes black
And gleaming, quickening my pulsation.
Please, won’t you move your lips again;
I long for more dizziness: We have,
In the gyration of the earth,
Carried with us many a brilliant galaxy.

Forgive me for again and again giving myself an order
And canceling the order, and again and again cursing
The shouting of the policemen on guard in the city
that threatens and complains in turns.
Now, my dear, let us only soar afar,
Let us melt, let us atone
For those impatient and unlucky tears
And that shameful bit of jealousy.

Let us be like those blossoms of light white clouds
That fly father and grow lighter, finally to disappear
In the calm blue. Man can never again
Gossip about their romance
As untamably wild. We shall
Lean together, reminiscing of our happiness while beautiful dreams
Circulate through the silent contact;
We’ll watch how the haze of the evening is quietly carried away.
                                                                                                                   Tu Yun-Hsieh - Chinese

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