The Flowers Fatal

The flowers fatal
In their blooming transient
Spare time for the breeze
Make room for the honey bees
Show indifference to me

Best the stars remain
Safe in deceptive distance
If shining lures us
Into their silver river
First we’d freeze—only to burn

AGG20171115

Depth Charge: I was invited by Joseph Moutran to the technical rehearsal for his Schubert recital, as I will be unable to attend the concert. Listening to him, this is what occurred. Thanks, Joseph.

Die schöne Müllerin / La belle meunière/The Beautiful Miller’s Daughter
The entire song cycle by Franz Schubert, with poetry by Wilhelm Müller, presented with French and English subtitles.
Performed by Joseph Moutran – Baryton, François Zeitouni, piano.
Saturday, November 18, 2017 at 7:30 PM – 9:30 PM
Chapelle St-Louis, 4230 Rue Drolet, Montréal, QC H2W 2L4
Tickets at the door.

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Finally at 5 o’clock: A Response to Li Qingzhao’s “New Lotus Leaves”

Finally at 5 o’clock
In a lightly drifting snow
Alone in the woods
The world poised to fall into
Another dark night

Sometimes forgetting
Becomes a powerful form
Of self-protection
Not simple dark denial
But freeing white erasure

More ephemeral
Than gravitational waves
Your absence lifts me
Knowing the snow doesn’t fall
Rather we rise up through it

As on the day I was born
The dragon raised its horned head
From the frozen seas
Though I couldn’t see it then
Through my newly opened eyes

AGG20160219

新荷叶李清照
薄露初零,长宵共、永昼分停。绕水楼台,高耸万丈蓬瀛。芝兰为寿,相辉映、簪笏盈庭。花柔玉净,捧觞别有娉婷。
鹤瘦松青,精神与、秋月争明。德行文章,素驰日下声名。东山高蹈,虽卿相、不足为荣。安石须起,要苏天下苍生。

Xīn hé yè Lǐ Qīngzhào
báolùchū líng, zhǎng xiāo gòng, yǒng zhòu fēn tíng. Rào shuǐ lóutái, gāosǒng wànzhàng péng yíng. Zhīlán wèi shòu, xiāng huīyìng, zān hù yíng tíng. Huā róu yù jìng, pěng shāng bié yǒu pīng tíng.
Hè shòu sōngqīng, jīngshén yǔ, qiūyuè zhēng míng. Déxíng wénzhāng, sù chí rì xià shēngmíng. Dōngshān gāo dǎo, suī qīng xiāng, bùzú wéi róng. Ān shí xū qǐ, yào sū tiānxià cāngshēng.

New/lotus/leaf/Li Qingzhao
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If I must have a grave

If I must have a grave
Let it be surrounded
By tall pines whispering
Their soft secrets to me
Whenever a breeze blows

AGG20151125

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As we lay down in the blood of strangers

As we lay down in the blood of strangers, 
Our tired bones made from the dust of stars, 
It would be so easy to just give in 
To despair, refuse to rise up again. 
 
Weary of television’s nightly dose 
Of horror and fear and murder, we want 
To hide away in some safe hole until 
It passes like a nightmare on parade. 
 
But this life is not a dream, it is real, 
As real as bullets, as bombs, as sirens, 
And we need to wake up, open our eyes, 
To dry our tears with the ashes of the dead. 
 
Our fears are as useless as our prayers, which 
Imagined god would we offer them to? 
The god of the killers and of the killed 
Is one and the same and his name is shit. 
 
This fictitious god who breeds hate too real 
For me and the all men I’ve ever loved 
Fades to nothing before the power felt 
As I lay down in a stranger’s warm arms. 
 
AGG20151116 
 
Depth Charge: The title of this poem is a slight modification of a line from an essay written by Isobel Bowdery, a survivor of the terrorist attacks in Paris, Nov 13, 2015.

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The Dark Arts

I drank the blood of a dead dog
To erase all memory of you
I vomited out my own heart
Into a stranger’s empty chest

These are the dark arts I employed
To murder off my love for you
I needn’t have bothered with them
The only thing wanting was time

AGG20151105

Depth Charge: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/nov/04/what-if-i-never-get-over-him-her-google-answer?CMP=fb_gu

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A Fool’s Game: A Response to “New Jade Candle” by Zhou Bangyan, attributed to Li Qingzhao

Lilac apple catalpa
Half-covered in fresh fallen
Snow—white on—white on—
My head’s an impossible
Conjunction of blooms

The Saint Lawrence slowly flows
Into the Yangtze River
Mount Royal rises
Beneath the Purple Mountain
Our arms are empty

Here—now—red and gold
Huddle randomly in drifts
At the wind’s mercy
Remembering’s a fool’s game
Sticking leaves back on the trees

AGG20151012

Depth Charge: Another poem universally attributed to Zhou Bangyan (Chou Pang-yen), yet included in the collection of Li Qingzhao poetry that I am using as a basis for this project. My translation of Zhou Bangyan’s poem may be found here,  Fittingly enough, my response deals with the inevitability of misremembering and misplacement.

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Translation: Zhou Bangyan’s “New Jade Candle”

By the stream after the month of dried meat and fish,
She saw bunches of river plum, and immediately began to trim them.
Building a bouquet from fragrant silk blossoms—
x     Confused and delicate,
x      Divulging her desires.
Last night in front of the village, in the yellowing dusk,
x      She longed to play with the moon.
The lonely bank steep, striped with shadows,
x     Pungent, hidden fragrances moistened her lapel and sleeves.
She lays her findings before the wine vessel,
Asking the distant mountains,
If they’ve heard anything about his return.
x     The aged sun pretends to struggle.
In the end he does not appear,
x     The river is a mere sliver of light.
x     A tender wind is graced with rain.
She randomly sticks the branches into her hair,
    Her head becomes a profusion of blossoms.
She must have faith, suppressing her sadness,
She reads the petition to the Emperor
x     Over and over again.

Translated by AGG20151009

Depth Charge: Another poem universally attributed to Zhou Bangyan (Chou Pang-yen), yet included in the collection of Li Qingzhao poetry that I am using as a basis for this project. On first encounter, I despaired of making heads or tails out of this poem; however, in my unsuccessful search for an English translation, I came across James Hightower’s article, “The Songs of Chou Pang-yen,” and his that statement the the best of Zhou Bangyan’s poems have “a narrative line that serves as a tenuous thread on which nuances of feeling are developed.” This caused the poem to form in my head, although my choice of pronoun, and the interpretation of some obscure phrases, should be regarded as nothing more than personal whimsy.

玉烛新 周邦彦

溪源新腊后。
见数朵江梅,剪裁初就。
晕酥砌玉芳英嫩,故把春心轻漏。
前村昨夜,想弄月,黄昏时候。
孤岸峭,疏影横斜,浓香暗沾襟袖。
尊前赋与多材,问岭外风光,故人知否。
寿阳谩斗。
终不似,照水一枝清瘦。
风娇雨秀。
好乱插,繁花盈首。
须信道,羌管无情,看看又奏。

Yù zhú xīn Zhōu Bāngyàn

xī yuán xīn là hòu.
Jiàn shù duǒ jiāng méi, jiǎncái chū jiù.
Yūn sū qì yù fāngyīng nèn, gù bǎ chūnxīn qīng lòu.
Qián cūn zuóyè, xiǎng nòng yuè, huánghūn shíhòu.
Gū àn qiào, shū yǐng héng xié, nóng xiāng àn zhān jīn xiù.
Zūn qián fù yǔ duō cái, wèn lǐng wài fēngguāng, gùrén zhī fǒu.
Shòu yáng mán dòu.
Zhōng bù shì, zhào shuǐ yīzhī qīngshòu.
Fēng jiāo yǔ xiù.
Hǎo luàn chā, fánhuā yíng shǒu.
Xū xìndào, xiāng guǎn wúqíng, kàn kàn yòu zòu.

Jade/candle/new Zhou Bangyan

Stream/source/new/12th Month/after.
See/many/bunches/river/plum, cut/trim/at first/right away.
Confused/silken/build by laying bricks/jade/fragrant/blossoms/delicate, therefore/hold/spring/feelings/gentle/divulge.
In front of/village/last night,want/to play with/moon, dusk/time.
Lonely/bank/high and steep, sparse/shadows/slanting/oblique, strong/pungent/hidden/moisten/lapel/sleeve.
Wine vessel/before/bestow/many/material, ask/mountain ridge/outside/landscape, old friend, know. not.
Old-age/sun/decieve/struggle.
End/not/appear, illuminate/river/one/branch/clear/thin.
Wind/delicate/rain/graceful.
Well/well/confusion/insert, flourishing/blossoms/full/head.
Must/trust/way,alone/cope/without/feeling, examine/again/memorial to the Emperor.

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Punchline: A Response to Li Qingzhao’s “Sand of Silk-Washing Brook”

The clouds drifting shift
The moonlight shakes the shadows
Of branches bare in May
I cast words at that bright stone
—not an echo of reply

We joked about who’d
Be the first of us to go
Well the joke’s on me
But no one here is laughing
—even the wind is wordless

I must keep my eyes
Fixed—frozen—a sideways glance
Is all it would take
To give the whole game away
—for pearls to fall in the dark

AGG20150504
(for ZG)

Tune: “Sand of Silk-Washing Brook”
Longing in the Boudoir
By Li Qingzhao①

A smile of happy recollection lights up her face
As she gently draws aside the curtain
Embroidered with blooming lotus,
And leans against the jewelled duck censer,
Her perfumed cheek on her hand, musing.
If she but rolls her eyes
She will immediately give herself away.

That first sweet meeting full of tenderest love!
She might as well send half a page
With endearing reproaches unburdening a pensive heart,
And have him come again
When the moon is moving the flower shadows.

①Translator’s note: This is one of the a-poems attributed to Li Qingzhao whose authenticity is questioned on the ground that the content is unworthy of a woman of her moral status. But it is included in many anthologies because the poet expresses her love boldly in defiance of the feudal shackles of her day and for some exquisite lines which bring out her inmost feelings in a lifelike way.

Translated by Jiaosheng Wang.

Depth Charge: The last line of Li Qingzhao’s poem “月移花影约重来/ When the moon is moving the flower shadows” alludes to a line from a novel by Tang Dynasty writer元稹/Yuan Zhen (779 –831), “The Biography of Xing Xing,” considered to be the first novel in Chinese to explore the inner  psychology of its characters: “待月西厢下,迎风户半开。拂墙花影动,疑是玉人来/I wait beneath the moonlight by the Western Chamber,  a door swings open in the breeze, brushing the wall flowers  the shadows shake, I mistake it for her approach.” Yuan Zhen’s most famous poems are three elegies he wrote to the memory of his dead wife. My poem was particularly influenced by Elegy II.

浣溪沙·李清照
绣面芙蓉一笑开,斜飞宝鸭衬香腮。眼波才动被人猜。
一面风情深有韵,半笺娇恨寄幽怀。月移花影约重来。

Huànxīshā·Lǐ Qīngzhào
Xiù miàn fúróng yīxiào kāi , xié fēi bǎo yā chèn xiāng sāi . Yǎnbō cái dòng bèi rén cāi.
Yīmiàn fēngqíng shēn yǒu yùn , bàn jiān jiāo hèn jì yōu huái . Yuè yí huāyǐng yuē chóng lái.

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Together with this Sadnesss

after Henri Matisse’s “The Red Studio”

The rising gentle, gentle falling
Of your smooth chest within my arms

I find these things
Only become what they are
To me when I feel them
Together

Together with this sadness

Where I got this this sadness
To be sure you do not know

It comes from having had and lost
All of this before

AGG20150424
(for Cutty)

Depth Charge: On a recent visit to the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, I was overwhelmed by Henri Matisse’s “The Red Studio” and I stood transfixed by its unifying field of red. The identifying label for the painting had a quote from Matisse: “Where I got the color red – to be sure, I just don’t know. I find that all these things only become what they are to me when I see them together with the color red.”