Some poetry by Gu Cheng
By Cindy M. Carter, published
Just ran across some poems in the archives, early translations I thought I'd lost. The first three are from Gu Cheng's 2005 (posthumous) collection《走了一万一千里路》. The other poems are from a 1995 edition of Gu Cheng's collected works《顾城诗全编》- also posthumous. Pretty free-wheeling translations, but there are some good moments. I think there's something here everyone can joyfully disagree on...
The vase says: I’m worth a thousand hammers.
The hammer says: I’ve smashed a hundred vases.
The artisan says: I’ve made a thousand hammers.
The master says: I’ve killed a hundred artisans.
The hammer says: I've bludgeoned one master to death.
The vase says: I now contain that master’s ashes.
《走了一万一千里路》, p. 303
Blind Men Crossing the Sea
The blind arrived to board the sea.
The moon was full, as was the breeze.
As it buffeted their faces, the blind men said:
"So, this is what they call the sea."
Then the wind stopped, and the boat
drifted toward an even fuller sea.
The sails were still, for lack of a breeze.
Dismayed, the blind men asked:
"What happened to the sea?"
Zzzt--- The winged ant in flight.
Zzzt? The winged ant stuck in a spider's web.
Zzzt! The winged ant blaming his wings:
"If not for you, I wouldn't be here."
The winged ant's last words:
噫 ..... 飞蚂蚁在嚷
《走了一万一千里路》, p. 311
假如 (If By Chance)
If by chance the bell does toll,
bury me with feathers—
so that in the dead of night,
I might weave
an enormous pair of wings,
and over my beloved country
go on circling.
(p. 319 of 顾城诗全编)
我们相信 (We believed)
we liked to sit on window sills
and listen to the sound of road construction.
It was summer; there was no wind.
Bitumen as warm as night
could glue the stars together.
this road to be devoid of dust,
devoid of any dirty footprints.
all joyous dreams would come to pass
here on their way to dawn.
that on this road, we'd recognize
the children of the sun in passing.
this road's conceit
to be our birthright.
that all the songs we could imagine
we’d someday have the chance to sing.
Oh, back then, once upon a time,
we sat upon the window sills
and listened to the sound of road construction.
(p. 402-403 of 顾城诗全编)