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Five Translated Eileen Chong Poems

1 February 2018

Seven in the Bamboo

I’m worried I’m not political enough
-Raquel Ormella1

In the morning I wake and put on my clothes
and shoes and a cap. I walk to the water’s edge

past dogs, people, bicycles and boats.
The sun rises on the horizon and I sit and face

the water and think and watch the clouds and the trees.
I don’t read a newspaper or buy a coffee at the café.

I go home and take a hot shower and sit with my cats.
I read a book, maybe two, write some poems perhaps.

I listen to music: the radio, sometimes, or an old song
from my collection. I stretch and lie down in the grass.

I eat something: fruit, cheese, a bowl of soup. On good days
there is chocolate. There is always a cup of tea. I don’t think

about pain, or loss, or the past, although they are there.
I don’t think about refugees or dead babies or chemical

warfare or Iraq or Israel. I worry I live under a rock
even as my mind winds up the wooded paths and streams

of third-century China. I imagine I am packing a frame-
and-cloth bag full of books and two changes of clothes

for a long journey into the mountains. Seven of us meet
in a bamboo grove. Two of us make love in the moonlight

after we are all drunk from pots of rice wine. Someone watches
us, but we don’t care. We forget about society, about politics,

about government. We sow, we grow, we reap. We dream, we read,
we write, we paint. The notes of the zither shiver in the night air.




竹林七贤

我担心自己在政治上不够激进
拉奎儿·欧美拉

清早醒来,我穿上衣服鞋子
戴了帽子,走到水边

途经小狗、人们、自行车、船。
太阳从地平线缓缓升起,我坐着,面向

那片海,一边沉思,一边望着云和树。
我不看报纸,也不在咖啡店喝咖啡。

回家,冲个热水澡,和猫坐在一起。
看书,或许一两本,或许写些诗。

听音乐,有时是广播,有时是某首收藏的老歌。
我舒展身体,躺在草地上。

吃点东西,水果、点心、一碗汤。
状况好的话,就有巧克力。一定会有杯茶。我不去想

关于那些伤痛、悲哀、过往,虽然它们如影随形。
我不去想关于难民、丧命的孩童、生化战争、

伊拉克或以色列的事情。我担心我与世隔绝了,
然而同时我的心却遨游在三世纪中国的

林间小路与潺潺溪流。我想像自己正在
把箱笼装满了书、两套衣服,

准备进入深山。我们七个人,
在竹林会合。待大家都酒酣耳热了之后,

其中两个人在月色下欢好。有人在看着
我们,但我们不以为意。我们忘了社会、政治、

政府。我们播种、灌溉、收割。我们作梦、阅读、
书写、绘画。琴声在夜空中颤抖。

翻译: (Translated by Jill Chang Chien, Steven Langsford and Annie Drahos)

  1. Epigraph is from Raquel Ormella’s series of textile banners made between 1999 and 2009, held in the collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.
 


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