Tuesday, January 31, 2012

a rock of shadows

a rock of shadows
solid to the touch
weighty
and ready for a throw
sits dejected
as they pass their way

Monday, January 30, 2012

Uneaten Crumbs


 a table sits bare
the whispers abound
surrounded
by uneaten crumbs

Fujiwara no Akusuke, "Lingering in autumn wind" (Hyakunin Isshu #79)

Translation

Vice Minister Akisuke (Fujiwara no Akisuke, 1090-1155)

Bright moonlight
Seeps through
The rifts of clouds
Lingering
In autumn wind


Original Japanese
Pronunciation


左京大夫顕輔
Sakyo no Daibu Akisuke


秋風に
Akikaze ni
たなびく雲の
Tanabiku kumo no
たえまより
Taema yori
もれ出づる月の
More izuru tsuki no
かげのさやけさ
Kage no sayakesa


Literal notes

Autumn wind
[Linger/hover-above/trail/hang-over/spread-about] cloud ’s
Interval/gap/rifts than/from
[Come-through/shine-through/protect/keep-promise] go-out moon ’s
Shadow/silhouette/reflection/light ’s [clearness/brightness]

Minamoto no Kanemasa's "Singing voices" (Hyakunin Isshu #78)

Translation

By Minamoto no Kanemasa (~1120)

Singing voices—
Awaji Island beach birds
Going back and forth:
How many sleepless nights
For the Suma gatekeeper?


Original Japanese
Pronunciation


源兼昌
Minamoto no Kanemasa


淡路島
Awaji shima
かよふ千鳥の
Kayou chidori no
なく声に
Naku koe ni
いくよねざめぬ
Ikuyo nezamenu
すまの関守
Suma no sekimori


Literal Notes

Awaji Island
[Commute/back-and-forth/song/ballad/in-such-a-way] plover/sandpiper ’s
[Sing/cry-out/weep/not-having] voice
[Generations/ages/years/number-of-nights/go] sleep not
Suma gatekeeper

The Suma barrier gate is near Kobe and across from Awaji Island. The poet is said to have written this poem after spending the night there and hearing the birds’ cries. Exiled officials also frequently went to Awaji Island and the Suma Barrier was a in Tale of Genji.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Daodejing #10: Embracing the soul

Translation

Carrying the soul,
embracing it as one—

載營
魄抱一
Can you be free from separation?

能無離乎
Rolling up your vital energy,
becoming gentle, supple—

摶氣
致柔
Can you become an infant?

能嬰兒乎
Purifying, cleansing, removing,
seeing the profound—

滌除
玄覽
Can you be free from blemish?

能無疵乎
Loving the people,
governing the nation:

愛民
治國
Can you be free from action?

能無為乎
The Gate of Heaven
opens and shuts:

天門
開闔
Can you be gentle, female?

能為雌乎
Understanding,
reaching  all four corners:

明白
四達
Can you be free from knowledge?

~~

能無知乎
Giving birth and raising life

生之畜之
Living but not having
生而不有
Doing but not presuming
為而不恃
Leading but not ruling

長而不宰
These are called
the profound virtues
是謂
玄德

Notes:
1. Last 4 verses: some variations don’t include the last 4 verses.
2. Last but one verse (Zhǎng ér bù zǎi,):  also has another pronunciation cháng, which means longer. Some versions adopt this variant and meaning.


Original Chinese

Traditional
Simplified
Pronunciation



載營魄抱一,
载营魄抱一,
Zài yíng pò bào yī,
能無離乎?
能无离乎?
Néng wú lí hu?
摶氣致柔,
抟气致柔,
Tuán qì zhì róu,
能嬰兒乎?
能婴儿乎?
Néng yīng ér hu?
滌除玄覽,
涤除玄览,
Dí chú xuán lǎn,
能無疵乎?
能无疵乎?
Néng wú cī hu?
愛民治國,
爱民治国,
ài mín zhì guó,
能無為乎?
能无为乎?
Néng wú wéi hu?
天門開闔,
天门开阖,
Tiān mén kāi hé,
能為雌乎?
能为雌乎?
Néng wéi cí hu?
明白四達,
明白四达,
Míng bái sì dá,
能無知乎?
能无知乎?
Néng wú zhī hu?
生之畜之。
生之畜之。
Shēng zhī xù zhī.
生而不有,
生而不有,
Shēng ér bù yǒu,
為而不恃,
为而不恃,
Wéi ér bù shì,
長而不宰,
长而不宰,
Zhǎng ér bù zǎi,
是謂玄德。
是谓玄德。
Shì wèi xuán dé.


Literal Translation

載營魄抱一,
Carry/load/convey strive-for/manage/build soul/vigor embrace/cherish/hold one/alone
[strive-for= spiritual soul]
能無離乎?
Able-to/capability/can-possibly not separate/leave/depart hu
[hu= Chinese character in the end with no real meaning,  but indicating it’s a question.]
摶氣致柔,
Roll-up-to-a-ball/roll-with-hand/spiral/circle vital/spirit-energy reach/send/deliver/cause soft/gentle/supple
能嬰兒乎?
Able-to/can-possibly baby son
[baby son= infant, baby]
滌除玄覽,
Wash/cleanse/purify get-rid-of/remove black/mysterious/profound/deep view/perceive
能無疵乎?
Able-to no blemish/flaw/defect
愛民治國,
Love citizen/people govern/manage country/nation
能無為乎?
Can no action/do
[no action = Daoist doctine of inaction, letting things take their course, laissez-faire]
天門開闔,
Heaven/sky door open close/shut
能為雌乎?
Can be/as female/feminine/gentle/soft 
明白四達,
Understand/bright/brilliant/clear white/pure four reach/attain/intelligent/arrive-at
[Understand white= understand/clear/realize/obvious/]
[four reach/attain= reach anywhere]
能無知乎?
Can no knowledge/perceive/comprehend
[no knowledge = ignorance]
生之畜之。
Give-birth/life/living it raise(animals)/livestock
生而不有,
Give-birth/grow/living/be-born/life but not have/own/possess 
為而不恃,
Do but not rely-upon/presume
長而不宰,
Elder/senior/leader/develop/enhance/increase but not dominate/slaughter/rule/govern
是謂玄德。
This/indeed/is so-called mysterious/deep/profound virtue/ethics/morality

The notes, character table, and literal translation were prepared with the assistance of Liane Rui of Shanghai, China.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Daodejing #9: Letting go


Holding, grasping till
it’s overflowing:

持而
盈之
Better
to stop and finish.

不如
其已
Handling the sword,
sharpening it:

揣而
銳之
It cannot
protect for long.

不可
長保
If gold and jade
fill up the house

金玉
滿堂
No one
can guard it.

莫之
能守
Riches and honors
lead to pride:

富貴
而驕
The losing is self-inflicted
and leads to calamity.

自遺
其咎
Your deeds accomplished,
you should then withdraw:

功遂
身退
This is also
the Path of Heaven.
天之
道也

Original Chinese

Traditional
Simplified
Pronunciation



持而盈之,
持而盈之,
Chí ér yíng zhī,
不如其已;
不如其已;
Bù rú qí yǐ;
揣而銳之,
揣而锐之,
Chuāi ér ruì zhī,
不可長保。
不可长保。
Bù kě cháng bǎo.
金玉滿堂,
金玉满堂,
Jīn yù mǎn táng,
莫之能守;
莫之能守;
Mò zhī néng shǒu;
富貴而驕,
富贵而骄,
Fù guì ér jiāo,
自遺其咎。
自遗其咎。
Zì yí qí jiù.
功遂身退,
功遂身退,
Gōng suì shēn tuì,
天之道也。
天之道也。
Tiān zhī dào yě.

Literal Translation

持而盈之,
Hold/grasp/maintain/control and[-so/-as-well] full/filled/overflowing/surplus it/’s
不如其已;
Not as/like/if/supposing it stop/finish
[not as = not as good, would be better to, inferior to]
揣而銳之,
Put-into/under-clothes and sharp/pointed it
不可長保。
Not able long-time/always/forever/constantly maintain/protect/defend/safeguard
金玉滿堂,
Gold jade full/filled main-hall
莫之能守;
There-is-none-who/do-not/cannot it able-to guard/protect/safeguard/guard/conserve/keep/insure
富貴而驕,
Rich/abundant honors/noble/valuable/costly and-then pride/proud/arrogant/haughty
自遺其咎。
Self/from/since leave-behind/lose/involuntarily-discharge its/his/her blame/fault/error/mistake/calamity/misfortune
功遂身退,
Service/accomplishment/achievement/merit/good-result/deed complete/succeed/finish/accomplish/thereupon body/self move-back/withdraw/retreat
天之道也。
Sky/Heaven its/’s principle/truth/path also/[affirmation]

The notes, character table, and literal translation were prepared with the assistance of Liane Rui of Shanghai, China.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Li Bai, "Lu Mountain Ballad" (300 Tang Poems #53)

Li Bai wrote this mystical poem in the year following the one where the emperor granted him amnesty from his exile. He had faced setbacks in his life and felt stepped on in his later years, being 60-years-old at the time he wrote this. This feeling led him to follow Daoism (Taoism) and seek divine advice.

This poem makes extensive allusions to Daoist belief, which are explained in the notes after the poem. Because of the length of the poem and extensive allusions, I added slightly more explanatory words to the translation than I would normally do to make it intelligible without constantly jumping to the notes.



The poem reading starts at 1:55. It is not the best reading, but the only one I could find and is cute to hear the kids reciting the poem. 

Translation

By Li Bai (701-762)
李白


Lu Mountain Ballad:
to Lu Xuzhou, Imperial Censor

廬山謠
寄盧侍御虛舟


I am
the Madman of Chu

我本
楚狂人

My Song of Phoenix
mocks the great Confucius

鳳歌
笑孔丘

My hand is holding
the mystical Staff of Jade

手持
綠玉杖

And I fly at morning,
leaving the Tower of Yellow Cranes

朝別
黃鶴樓

Over the Five Famous Mountains
I seek our deities
stopping not, despite the distance

五嶽
尋仙
不辭遠

All my life
I’ve wanted to join
those famous mountain wanderers

~~

一生
好入
名山遊

The Mountain Lu
it flows out
near the Little Dipper

廬山
秀出
南斗傍

A screen
of layers folded in nine:
the clouds a cloth of fine brocade

屏風
九疊
雲錦張

A shadow falling
brightly on a lake
that shines in green and black

影落
明湖
青黛光

A Tower of Gold
that opens in front:
the double peaks so long

金闕
前開
二峰長

A silver river
that hangs from top to bottom:
a rocky bridge that folds in three

銀河
倒挂
三石梁

A burner of incense,
the waterfall:
seeing each other at distance

香爐
瀑布
遙相望

The curving cliffs
of peaks connecting again and again,
soaring through dark blue sky

迴崖
沓障
淩蒼蒼

Jade-like shadows
and rosy clouds
reflecting the morning sun

翠影
紅霞
映朝日

Birds that fly
but cannot reach
the end of sky

鳥飛
不到
吳天長

Climbing high
a splendid view
of heaven and earth between

登高
壯觀
天地間

The Yellow River
vast and boundless
going till it’s yellow no more

大江
茫茫
去不黃

Dark clouds
and thousands of miles
colors and wind are moving

黃雲
萬里
動風色

White waves:
the nine tributes
flowing from mountain snow

~~

白波
九道
流雪山

It’s pleasing to do
a ballad of Lu
好為
廬山謠

I am writing because
the Mountain is sending

興因
廬山發

Idly viewing
the mirror of stone,
my heart becoming pure

閑窺
石鏡
清我心

Seeing the places
Xie recorded, that famous poet:
they flow in moss of green

謝公
行處
蒼苔沒

First I take my Daoist pills of mercury,
soon to return as cinnabar:
those worldly feelings flee

早服
還丹
無世情

Strumming the heart like I would a lute:
it folds in three
beginning the Daoist path

琴心
三疊
道初成

Faraway I see
Celestial Beings
in reddish clouds

遙見
仙人
彩雲裡

My hand holds out
hibiscus
as I offer to the Mount of Jade

手把
芙蓉
朝玉京

Before me
Celestial Hanman
high in sky above

先期
汗漫
九垓上

I wish to join
that Searcher, Lu’ao,
traveling to farthest reaches

願接
盧敖
遊太清


Notes:
1.   1st / 2nd  verses: a saying from Analects of Confucius, a Chu scholar met the King of Chu Kindom, when he saw the anarchy, he pretended he was insane and rejected the imperial position. Thus, he got the title, Chu Kuang. He also advised Confucius to stay away from official positions, to avoid misfortune. As the ancient saying goes: If you’re accompany the Emperor, you’re with the tiger.
2.   Song of Phoenix is a poem in the Daoist skeptical philosophy book, Zhuangzi.
3.   The green jade staff is held by Daoist (Taoist) immortals.
4.   Yellow Crane Tower= it’s in Wuhan,Hubei Province, the deities and sages ride golden cranes to fly in the sky and go there.
5.   “Brightly on a lake” = Poyang Lake in Jiangxi Province, the biggest fresh water lake in China.
6.   Gold Watchtower = Jinque, it’s a rock’s name; two peaks = Xianglu Peak and Shuangjian Peak of Lu Mountain.
7.   Honorable Xie, Xie Lingyun, a famous poet in Jin Dynasty, his scenic poems are top-rated
8.   In Taoism alchemy, the pills were in mercury at first. After a long time, the pills would return to cinnabar. So it’s also called “return pill/pellet.”
9.   Strumming the heart in three folds, literally “Lute heart three fold” = it’s a term in Taoism practice, means making the heart soothing and serene.
10. Mount Jade = Jade Jing Mountain, Daoism believes the Celestial Beings live there.
11. Hanman, one celestial’s name.
12. “Lu’ao / in traveling to the sky.” Lu’ao, a person in Qin dynasty, who sought an elixir for the Emperor. Taiqing, the sky’s highest region. Taoism believes there are three fairylands in the sky, where three deities live respectively. Taiqing is the highest, thus the purest.


Original Chinese

Traditional
Simplified
Pronunciation



李白
李白
Li bái
廬山謠
寄盧侍御虛舟
庐山谣
寄卢侍御虚舟
Lú shān yáo
jì lú shì yù xū zhōu



我本楚狂人,
我本楚狂人,
Wǒ běn chǔ kuáng rén,
鳳歌笑孔丘。
凤歌笑孔丘。
Fèng gē xiào kǒng qiū.
手持綠玉杖,
手持绿玉杖,
Shǒu chí lǜ yù zhàng,
朝別黃鶴樓;
朝别黄鹤楼;
Zhāo bié huáng hè lóu;
五嶽尋仙不辭遠,
五岳寻仙不辞远,
Wǔ yuè xún xian bù cí yuǎn,
一生好入名山遊。
一生好入名山游。
Yì shēng hǎo rù míng shān yóu.
廬山秀出南斗傍,
庐山秀出南斗傍,
Lú shān xiù chū nán dǒu bàng,
屏風九疊雲錦張;
屏风九叠云锦张;
Píng fēng jiǔ dié yún jǐn zhāng;
影落明湖青黛光,
影落明湖青黛光,
Yǐng luò míng hú qīng dài guāng,
金闕前開二峰長。
金阙前开二峰长。
Jīn quē qián kāi èr fēng zhǎng.
銀河倒挂三石梁,
银河倒挂三石梁,
Yín hé dào guà sān shí liáng,
香爐瀑布遙相望。
香炉瀑布遥相望。
Xiāng lú pù bù yáo xiāng wàng.
迴崖沓障淩蒼蒼,
回崖沓障凌苍苍,
Huí yá tà zhàng líng cāng cāng,
翠影紅霞映朝日,
翠影红霞映朝日,
Cuì yǐng hóng xiá yìng zhāo rì,
鳥飛不到吳天長。
鸟飞不到吴天长。
Niǎo fēi bú dào wú tiān cháng.
登高壯觀天地間,
登高壮观天地间,
Dēng gāo zhuàng guān tiān dì jiān,
大江茫茫去不黃。
大江茫茫去不黄。
Dà jiāng máng máng qù bù huáng.
黃雲萬里動風色,
黄云万里动风色,
Huáng yún wàn lǐ dòng fēng sè,
白波九道流雪山。
白波九道流雪山。
Bái bō jiǔ dào liú xuě shān.
好為廬山謠,
好为庐山谣,
Hào wéi lú shān yáo,
興因廬山發。
兴因庐山发。
Xìng yīn lú shān fā.
閑窺石鏡清我心,
闲窥石镜清我心,
Xián kuī shí jìng qīng wǒ xīn,
謝公行處蒼苔沒。
谢公行处苍苔没。
Xiè gōng xíng chǔ cāng tái mò.
早服還丹無世情,
早服还丹无世情,
Zǎo fú huán dān wú shì qíng,
琴心三疊道初成;
琴心三叠道初成;
Qín xīn sān dié dào chū chéng;
遙見仙人彩雲裡,
遥见仙人彩云里,
Yáo jiàn xiān rén cǎi yún lǐ,
手把芙蓉朝玉京。
手把芙蓉朝玉京。
Shǒu bà fú róng cháo yù jīng.
先期汗漫九垓上,
先期汗漫九垓上,
Xiān qí hàn màn jiǔ gāi shàng,
願接盧敖遊太清。
愿接卢敖游太清。
Yuàn jiē lú áo yóu tài qīng.


Literal Translation

李白
Plum White= Li Bai(701-762)
廬山謠
寄盧侍御虛舟
Hut Mountain ballad
send/to Lu attend imperial vain boat
[Hut Mountain=Lu Mountain, in Jiujiang, Jiangxi Province], [send=ji, a poem dedicated to], [attend imperial=Shiyu, censor, imperial official position], [Lu attend imperial vain/false boat= Lu Xuzhou, the Censor]




我本楚狂人,
I originally/root/source Chu insane person
[Chu insane person= Chu Kingdom’s crazy-man.]
鳳歌笑孔丘。
Phoenix Song laugh/snicker/mock Hole Hill
[Phoenix Song= the lyrics is from the book, Zhuangzi], [Hole Hill= Confucius]
手持綠玉杖,
Hand hold green jade wand/staff/cane
[green jade wand/staff= the wand used by the deities]
朝別黃鶴樓;
Morning farewell/parting Yellow Crane Tower
[Yellow Crane Tower= it’s in Wuhan,Hubei Province, the deities and sages ride golden cranes to fly in the sky and go there.]
五嶽尋仙不辭遠,
Five mountains seek Daoist-deity not decline/resign distant/remote/profound
[Five mountains=China have 5 famous mountains, called Wu Yue; here refers to every renowned mountain.] 
一生好入名山遊。
One/all life like/good enter/join famous mountain travel/wander
[One life= all Li’s life]
廬山秀出南斗傍,
Lu Mountain beautiful/flowering/luxuriant/graceful come-out/go-out South Dou/Chinese-measure near/close
[South Dou= the South Dipper, in ancient Chinese astronomy, cities/fields were linked to stars’ position. Lu Mountain is near Xunyang, and Xunyang was linked to the South Dipper.]
屏風九疊雲錦張;
Folding-screen wind nine fold-in-layers/stack cloud good-fabrics/brocade/tapestry/embroidery piece(of cloth)
[Folding-screen wind=ancient Chinese screen]
影落明湖青黛光,
Shadow/reflection/image falls clear/bright/brilliant lake green/youth umber-black light/shine
[Shadow= Mountain’s shadow]
[clear lake= Poyang Lake in Jiangxi Province, the biggest fresh water lake in China.]
金闕前開二峰長。
Gold Deficiency/palace/palace-watch-tower front open two peaks grow/long
[Gold Deficiency=Jinque, it’s a rock’s name; ]
[two peaks=Xianglu Peak and Shuangjian Peak of Lu Mountain]
銀河倒挂三石梁,
Silver river upside-down/fall-over hang three stone roof-beam/bridge
[Silver river = the Three-fold Waterfall, because there’re three cascades (or Milky Way, galaxy)]
香爐瀑布遙相望。
Incense burner waterfall cloth distant/far-away each-other watch/look-at
[Incense burner=incensory], [waterfall cloth= waterfall]
迴崖沓障淩蒼蒼,
Curve cliff/precipice many connected/range-of-peaks/again-and-again soaring/pass-over dark-blue dark-blue
[dark-blue dark-blue= describe the sky’s color, vast and hazy]
翠影紅霞映朝日,
Bluish-green shadow/reflection red sunglow/red-clouds/rosy-clouds reflect morning sun
鳥飛不到吳天長。
Birds fly not arrive/reach Wu Sky long/length
[Wu Sky= Jiujiang was Wu Kingdom’s territory in the history.]
[Meaning: Even birds can’t fly over/across the high and grand Lu Mountain, and its vast sky.]
登高壯觀天地間,
Climb high splendid/magnificent/big view/see sky earth between
大江茫茫去不黃。
Big river boundless/vast boundless go not yellow/return
[Big river= Yangtze River], [go not yellow= another version of this poem is “return” not “yellow”, so the River goes but never returns. Yellow River loses its yellow.]
黃雲萬里動風色,
Yellow/dark clouds wan(10-thousand) miles move wind color/look/shape/form/beauty
白波九道流雪山。
White/pure wave nine paths flow snow mountain
[nine paths=Ancient topography shows the Yangtze river in Xunyang became 9 tributary streams.] , [snow mountain= white splash]
好為廬山謠,
Like/good/well/proper do Lu Mountain ballad
興因廬山發。
Excitement/interest/thrive/flourish because Lu Mountain create/appear/emit/sends-out/show
閑窺石鏡清我心,
Leisure/idle look stone mirror clear/pure my heart
[stone mirror= There’s a round smooth rock in Lu Mountain.]
謝公行處蒼苔沒。
Thanks Gentleman travel/walk place pale/ash-gray/green moss buried/die/inundated
[Thanks Gentleman= Sir Xie, Xie Lingyun, a famous poet in Jin Dynasty, his scenic poems are top-rated.]
早服還丹無世情,
Early take(medication) return/still/besides pellet/pill/cinnabar/vermilion no mundane/common/worldly feelings
琴心三疊道初成;
Lute heart three fold Taoism/path beginning ready/completed/fixed/succeed
[Lute heart three fold= it’s a term in Taoism practice, means making the heart soothing and serene.]
遙見仙人彩雲裡,
Faraway/distant see/appear Daoist-deity person colorful/rosy clouds inside/within
手把芙蓉朝玉京。
Hand hold lotus/hibiscus lotus/cotton-rose towards Jade Jing/capital/big
[lotus lotus= hibiscus], [towards= worship, pilgrimage], [Jade Jing= Jade Jing Mountain, Taoism believes the Celestial Beings are there.]
先期汗漫九垓上,
Earlier time Sweat Free/spreading nine sky/border above
[Earlier time = in advance, ahead of time], [Sweat Free= Hanman, one celestial’s name], [nine sky= idiom, the highest level of the sky or empyreal]
願接盧敖遊太清。
Wish/desire receive/join/connect Hut Ramble travel/wander/roam Too Clear

[Hut Ramble= Lu’ao, a person in Qin dynasty, who sought an elixir for the Emperor.]
[Too Clear=Taiqing, the sky’s highest region. Taoism believes there’re 3 fairylands in the sky, where 3 deities live respectively. Taiqing is the highest, thus the purest.]

The notes, character table, and literal translation were prepared with the assistance of Liane Rui of Shanghai, China.