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Monday, March 26, 2012

A Poetic Gem

Duanqunling, http:www.Italki.com/T008309015.htm, wrote this delightful stanza in a private note. It is too wonderful not to share with others. My translation is figurative and trying to capture her essence.


文如涓涓細流疑似女,Your words trickle delicately like a lassie.
氣如排山倒海思似男。Yet its spirit tower over mountains and oceans like those of a man.
樸素迷离不能辨,        So simple and yet so profound.
化作思念留心間。        Turning thoughts of the head into sweetness of the heart.

A literal version would be,

Your essay flows delicately like a girl,
Yet its ambition can rearrange mountains and upturn oceans like that of a man.
Simplicity or wonder – hard to distinguish/separate,
Only for transforming thoughts for the heart.

It would be great if the authoress would give some comments.

Afterword,

This is really funny to the max! Duanqunling just wrote to tell me that she made a mistake. Instead of "樸素迷離", it should be "撲朔迷離"! A Chinese idiom to mean "complicated and confusing." The original meaning is "the difficulty in separating if one is a male or a female".


This comes from the description of rabbits. The male rabbit is more excitable because of its tendency to jump about while the female is serene with its eyes almost narrowed to a slit. (雄兔撲朔, 雌兔迷離). When they run together alongside, it is hard to distinguish the sex of the rabbits. (雙兔傍地走;安能辨我是雄雌). There is another meaning for 撲朔. It means the fluffiness of the hair on the male rabbit's feet. However, I now wonder if the female is not as fluffy! I used to have pet rabbits as a kid but I was never observant with such details. In any case, 朔 "means the new moon". The moon can used poetically for the rabbit and vice versa; such as the "jade rabbit" (玉兔). Ancient Chinese believe that it lives in the moon pounding osmanthus elixir.  There are two other lunar inhabitants, the beautiful fairy Chang-O (嫦娥) and the three legged toad (蟾). An opposite idiom is 一清二楚.


So now the poem becomes,


文如涓涓細流疑似女, Your words trickle delicately like a lassie.
氣如排山倒海思似男. Yet its spirit towers over mountains and oceans like those of a man.
撲朔迷離不能辨,          Difficult it is to know if you are a male or a female,
化作思念留心間.          For turning thoughts of the head into sweetness of the heart.


Duanqunling wrote the poem because she did not know if I was a male or female.  My former photo showing my lowered tilted head to a side hidden in my mass of long hair! I thank her for her compliment.

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