Damo

Translated any poems lately? If so, then why not post them here?

Damo

Postby Lake » Tue Oct 13, 2009 8:15 pm

Damo

Standing astride a piece of reed you came
from the sea, the sea-storm was
simplified to a worn bamboo hat
hanging on the back of your shoulders
Then, sharks had not learnt to eat humans

Your hometown was only
this pair of straw sandals under your feet
Stepping onto the luxuriant divine land
the more they were walked in, the thinner they became
No one remembered where
they were laid aside in the end
With a kowtou, two thousand years had passed

Alas! There’s no Pure Land in the West
the mountains in the East were like dead waves
How could all the living creatures be relieved of suffering?
Slanting sun. Leaning on the cane by
the temple door, did you quietly turn your head
to look back down the road whence you came?


达摩
--李加建

一苇踏海而来
海上的风暴
简化为一顶破笠
悬挂在肩背之后
那时、鲨鱼还没有学会吃人

你的故乡就只是
脚下这双芒鞋了
踏莽莽神州
越走越薄。也记不清
最终弃置在何处?
一稽首,已是两千年

噫——西方无净土
东方的群山如死浪
众生其可普度乎?
满目斜阳,倚杖寺门前
不知你是否悄悄、回头
望一眼来时路?
Last edited by Lake on Thu Oct 15, 2009 4:17 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Damo

Postby twoleftfeet » Tue Oct 13, 2009 11:22 pm

Lake,

Is this a "what if" poem?
As in "What if Da Mo (Bodhidharma) had come to the modern day West?"

I know that "Pure Land" is a Buddhist reference (a school, I believe)
so this line suggested the "what if" to me:
Alas! There’s no Pure Land in the West

I had to read about the Da Mo legend in order to understand S1.

Treading a piece of reed, you came...........................Perhaps "Standing astride a piece of reed you came"
from the sea, the sea-storm was
simplified to a worn bamboo hat..............................not sure what is meant by "simplified"
hanging on the back of your shoulders
Then, sharks had not learnt to eat humans


In S2 I think
the more they were walked, the thinner
would be better as
the more they were walked in, the thinner they became


In S3
the last line
to look at the road where you came from?
- I think this might be better as
to look at the road you came down?
or
to look back down the road whence you came?

Nice work
Geoff
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Re: Damo

Postby Lake » Wed Oct 14, 2009 3:21 am

Hi Geoff,

Thank you very much for your help, this is what I need.

I have to admit I don't know about Buddhism any more than you do. I have been watching Damo (he established Chinese Chan) series online recently and accidental y came across this poem. So I decided to have a go, not that I understand it completely.

"What if", good thinking! "Pure Land" normally refers to the world where Buddha lives, the place not polluted by this world, this mortal life. That's why it is called "Pure Land".

"simplified" is the exact literary meaning of the original word. I took it as Damo withstood all the difficulties and tests. I don't want to put my explanation there (there might be other interpretations I'm not aware of), so I just stick to the meaning of the word itself.

Your other suggestions are great. I like your "standing astride", "walked in" and "look back down the road whence you came?" I'll have it revised according to your suggestions.

Many many thanks!

Lake
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Re: Damo

Postby twoleftfeet » Wed Oct 14, 2009 10:01 am

Lake wrote:Hi Geoff,

"simplified" is the exact literary meaning of the original word. I took it as Damo withstood all the difficulties and tests. I don't want to put my explanation there (there might be other interpretations I'm not aware of), so I just stick to the meaning of the word itself.

Lake


Is the idea that the storm is of no more significance to Da Mo than the hat,
like sitting in meditation even if the house is on fire?

I've spotted a couple more possible improvements:
"sufferings" would be better as "suffering"

Stepping on the luxuriant divine land
- if this implies stepping from the sea onto dry land then I would go for
Stepping onto the luxuriant divine land

Happy to help - I enjoy this far more than doing poetry crits, to be honest.

Geoff
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Re: Damo

Postby Lake » Thu Oct 15, 2009 1:25 am

:) Geoff, you read this better and deeper than I do.

Stepping on the luxuriant divine land
- if this implies stepping from the sea onto dry land

Yes, so onto is better.

"suffering" and "sufferings", what's the subtle difference between these two? Hope you don't mind my questions.

Glad you'd like to help.

Lake
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Re: Damo

Postby twoleftfeet » Thu Oct 15, 2009 11:34 am

Lake wrote::)

"suffering" and "sufferings", what's the subtle difference between these two? Hope you don't mind my questions.

Lake


:oops: I'm not 100% sure, Lake :oops:
I suppose "suffering" is a general condition, like "unhappiness" or "pain".
The more I think about it, though, the more certain I am that "suffering" is better.

Keep them coming
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Re: Damo

Postby Lake » Thu Oct 15, 2009 4:27 pm

Geoff, thanks for the explanation which makes good sense. I'm not sharp in this subtle differnece which, I understand, sometimes is hard to explain. But you always manage to give me an answer. Hope you also enjoy doing this more than giving poetry crits. :D

Thanks,

Lake
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Re: Damo

Postby David » Thu Oct 15, 2009 5:29 pm

You've been well-mentored by Geoff already, Lake. Just want you to know that I also enjoy these glimpses of the east.

Cheers

David
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Re: Damo

Postby Lake » Tue Oct 20, 2009 3:00 pm

David wrote:You've been well-mentored by Geoff already, Lake.


:D Thanks David.

When three men are walking together, there must be one who can be my teacher.
--Confucius
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Re: Damo

Postby Lake » Sat Nov 09, 2013 5:35 pm

Just realized it's been four years already since this translation was workshopped here when I received my copy "Sound and Rhyme" (a poetry magazine based in Hong kong) yesterday.

Thanks to all who helped me fine-tune my translation. Special thanks to Geoff!

Lake
Aim, then, to be aimless.
Seek neither publication, nor acclaim:
Submit without submitting.

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Re: Damo

Postby twoleftfeet » Sun Nov 10, 2013 1:14 pm

You are most welcome, Lake!
Instead of just sitting on the fence - why not stand in the middle of the road?
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