Image credit: David Wilder - "Apparently, Three Graces"

1. Lady Macbeth

 

a.

I am Lady Macbeth.

I have a white face, white breasts, white buttocks,

a white abdomen, white legs, white feet.

My two hands—red, red, red.

Before nibbling at the white-hot sun and swallowing it,

the black night spills the afterglow of desire and apprehension

all over my hands—

written in blood, a book-in-palm whose pages have no end

of turning and tearing.

I pour over its dazzling blades and bloody shadows through the hours,

read while I sleep, sleep while I walk.

Every page is a precipice that

lures and stabs me with the keenness of a dagger.

My body falls again and again into an abyss,

the countless imprints of my hands

hang their bright red on the crag.

 

b.

Buy all the mineral water in the supermarket

to wash my hands.

Take all the brand-name perfumes in the department store

to scent my hands.

Cast rye, black mist, carbon powder, and coffee grounds into the sky

to deceive eyes and ears.

Send the world peppers, chilies, ice-cream, and cakes

to block mouths and noses.

 

2. Ophelia

 

“To UpsidedownB5, or not to UpsidedownB6, that is the question.”

You dwell in your soliloquies; I can’t help my anxiety.

 

If you want me, take action.

If you desire fruit, be daring.

Your mouth opens and gives me sweet talk

but you dare not use your hands to avenge your father.

 

To RightsideupB3, or not to RightsideupB5, that is the question.

Compelled to be a good daughter and a good sister,

I dare not urge myself to seduce you

into picking and releasing me, to be a bad girl.

 

The bulldozer of morality pushes us

and the flowers and plants we love

to the mad pond.

 

There’s rosemary. And too pansies.

Fennel, and columbines there.

Rue over here, and a daisy.

Here are some violets, but they wither’d all…

 

3. Juliet

 

What is love? It makes you forget to sleep and eat,

makes you take poison for elixir, sleep for death.

 

If a rose weren’t called a rose,

would it be as fragrant?

If Viagra weren’t called Viagra,

would it be as regnant?

If Romeo weren’t called Romeo,

would Juliet, a Capulet, fall

head over heels, go moony?

 

Oh, pilgrim,

kiss my areola, my labia, my womb, my tomb,

mold my casket into an altar.

 

What is love? It makes you take bitter for sweet,

Take dying for living.

 

4. Prospero

 

My magic staff can summon wind and rain.

Like a poet or composer, it liberates

sunken ships and rouses spirits from the sea.

At its order, the spirits furnish a masquerade in midair,

play fantastic tunes, and pen an island in the aqua of

a manuscript. Imagination and reconciliation join forces

to build a beautiful new world: those who are

in deep slumbers will wake, those whose eyes

are long open will sleep; enemies will become

lovers, the lunatic is no different than the sane,

life and death run a three-legged race,

computer and pig’s brain share the same trough…

 

Where the bees suck, there suck I; where

dreams puff up, save our little life.

The lunatic, the lover, and the poet are a triune

even though all spirits are melted into air, into

a drift of music, giving food to love, giving

a file name or an address to the airy.

 

 

Translator’s Note: In “Ophelia,” the lines “There’s rosemary… but they wither’d all…” are adapted from Hamlet, Act IV, Scene V. In “Prospero,” a “brave new world” and “Where the bees suck, there suck I” are taken from The Tempest, Act V, Scene 1; “all spirits are melted into air” and “our little life” are from Act IV, Scene 1.

 

 

 



Original ↓

      1 馬克白夫人

      a

我是馬克白夫人

我臉皮白,乳房白,臀部白

腹部白,腿白,腳白

我的兩隻手,紅紅紅

黑夜,在蠶食鯨吞白日殆盡前

將慾望與疑懼的霞暉

全數流洩在我手上:

以血寫成,一本翻不完

撕不盡的掌中書

我終夜閱讀它的刀光血影

邊讀邊睡,邊睡邊走

每一頁書都是峭壁

用匕首般的尖險,誘我,刺我

我的身軀反覆墜入萬丈深淵

我的手印千千萬

鮮紅地懸在崖上

 

      b

把超級市場裡的礦泉水全部買來

洗我的手

把百貨公司所有專櫃的香水搬來

薰我的手

把黑麥黑霧碳粉咖啡粉撒在空中

掩人耳目

把胡椒辣椒冰淇淋蛋糕遍送天下

塞人鼻口

 

      2 奧菲莉亞

 

「要屄,不要屄,那是個問題。」

你踟躕自語,我焦急不已

 

要我,就要行動

要果實,就要敢

 

你張口送我甜言蜜語

不敢動手為亡父復仇

 

要逼,不要逼,那是個問題

我被逼做好女兒,好妹妹

不敢逼自己成為一個誘你

摘我,釋放我的壞女孩

倫理的推土機,把我們

連同我們所愛的花花草草

推到瘋狂的池塘

那邊有迷迭香,還有三色菫

那邊有茴香,還有耬斗花

這邊有芸香,還有延命菊

這邊有枯了的紫羅蘭……

 

      3 茱麗葉

 

愛是什麼?教人廢寢忘食

以毒藥為補藥,以死亡為睡眠

 

玫瑰如果不是叫玫瑰

是不是一樣香?

威而剛如果不是叫威而剛

是不是一樣強?

羅密歐如果不是叫羅密歐

是不是一樣教茱麗葉落葉

失魂顛倒?

 

啊,香客

用你的吻吻我上體下體陰戶陰宅

用你的手掌圍我的棺為神龕

 

愛是什麼?

教人以苦為甜,以死為生

     

      4 普洛斯帕羅

 

我的魔法杖能呼風喚雨

如同詩人或作曲家,點化

沉舟,從海底喚起精靈

役使他們佈置假面空中舞會

和奇妙的音樂,用一支筆

在稿紙的海上圈出一座島

一個想像與和解共築的美麗

新世界:昏睡久久的將起來

長久睜眼的將入眠,仇敵成為

情人,瘋狂即是健全,死與生

兩人三腳,電腦與豬腦同槽……

 

在蜜蜂吸蜜的地方吸蜜,在

夢隆起的地方儲存短暫人生

瘋子,情人,詩人三位一體

即使所有精靈最終化作空氣

一陣音樂,給愛情以食物,給

虛無飄渺的東西以檔名,位址

 

 

註:此詩四個標題人物,分別出自莎士比亞戲劇《馬克白》,《哈姆雷特》,《羅密歐與茱麗葉》,《暴風雨》。

 

Translator's Note

Considered “one of the most innovative and exciting poets writing in Chinese today” by Taiwanese-American literary scholar Michelle Yeh, Chen Li is widely recognized for his integration of Eastern and Western traditions, avant-garde treatment of the local, and exploration of Taiwan’s postmodernity. In terms of poetic techniques, Chen Li has a penchant for word play, concretism, and intertextuality. While word play may pose challenges to translation, the translator aims to turn the challenges into inter-lingual creative opportunities whereby a manipulation of Chinese characters’ sounds or graphics triggers a similar attempt in English.

In “Four Dramatic Monologues,” a sequence that presents glimpses of four well-known Shakespearean characters speaking in Chinese, word play is most prominent in “Ophelia” and “Juliet.” While the translation attempts to recreate the original patterning of Chinese characters mainly through alliteration and assonance in English, “Ophelia” demonstrates an interesting case in point. The poem opens with a homophonous play between the Chinese character 屄 (bì), meaning ‘cunt,’ and the English ‘be’ in Hamlet’s famous line. The play returns in the fourth stanza with the same homophony in 逼 (bì), ‘to compel.’ To retain the sound-oriented nuances, the translation uses    UpsidedownB7to re-present 屄 graphically in the shape of buttocks, and RightsideupB6 to render 逼 as the letter is pushed face down to the ground. The concrete treatment of the letter resonates with Chen Li’s passion for concrete poems. While this passion has marks the beginning of Chen Li’s international exposure, especially through his concrete piece “A War Symphony,” Chen Li’s linear poems such as “Four Dramatic Monologues” offer incredible richness to explore through translation.

 


Elaine Wong

×

In the Classroom

×