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Reading

~Chinese / 中文
《平如美棠》饶平如

~Japanese / 日本語
「女のいない男たち」村上春樹
「職業は武装解除」瀬谷ルミ子

~English
"Notes on Democracy" Arundhati Roy

~Korean / 한국어
《그렇습니까? 기린입니다》박민규
《소나기》 황순원

~Finished / 読了 / 已读
「コンビニ人間」村田沙耶香
"Factory Girls" Lesley Chang
"Your Republic is Calling You" Kim Young-ha
「色彩を持たない多崎つくると彼の巡礼の年」村上春樹
《裸命》陈冠中
"River Town" Peter Hessler
"Oracle Bones" Peter Hessler
"Country Driving" Peter Hessler
「カンガルー日和」村上春樹
「こころ」夏目漱石
「火の鳥9」 手塚治虫
《呐喊》鲁迅
《娃》莫言
《朋友》余华
"Inside the Kingdom" Robert Lacey
《活着》余华
"A Room of One's Own" Virginia Woolf
「羊をめぐる冒険」村上春樹
《阿Q正传》鲁迅
《倾城之恋 》张爱玲
《茉莉香片》张爱玲
《金锁记》张爱玲
「深夜特急」(2)沢木耕太郎
「1973年のピンボール」 村上春樹
"One Foot In Eden" Ron Rash
「双子の星」宮沢賢治

[New Book] Murakami Haruki interviewed by Kawakami Mieko – “The Horned Owl Takes Flight at Dusk”

On April 27th, Shinchōsha will publish another book related to Murakami Haruki, called The Horned Owl Takes Flight at Dusk (みみずくは黄昏に飛びたつ), or Haruki Murakami: A Long, Long Interview). The book is a long, long interview (11 hours, 250,000 characters) of Murakami by Kawakami Mieko, herself an award winning writer from Osaka (her novella Breasts and Eggs [乳と卵] won the Akutagawa Prize in 2008). It will cost 1,620 yen and can be pre-ordered now.

 

川上未映子が村上春樹を訊き尽くす!

Kawakami Meiko asks Murakami Haruki everything!
11時間、25万字の「まるごと一冊」インタビュー本

11 hours; 250,000 characters; “an entire book” of an interview

『騎士団長殺し』誕生秘話、少年期の記憶、フェミニズム、世界的名声、そして死後のこと……。
芥川賞作家にして、10代からの熱心な愛読者が、村上春樹のすべてを訊き尽くす。

The secret story of the birth of Killing Commendatore, memories of boyhood, feminism, global fame, and what happens after death… An Akutagawa Prize-winning author and a passionate, avid reader since her teens asks Murakami Haruki everything.

ただのインタビューではあらない

Not just an interview

比喩はどうやって思いつく?

How do you come up with similes?
「地下二階に降りる」とは?

What does it mean to “descend to the second story underground”?
結末を決めずに書けるって本当?

Is it true you can write without deciding on the ending?
イデアとメタファーって何?

What are “ideas” and “metaphors”?
じつは男を求める男の話?

Actually, a story about a man seeking a man?
なぜ文体が大事なの?

Why is writing style important?
女性が性的な役割を担わされ過ぎてません?

Aren’t women tasked with too many sexual roles?
自分の「影」を受け入れるって?

What does it mean to accept your “shadow”?
何があっても一日十枚書くの?

Do you always write ten pages a day, no matter what?
なぜ一人称に戻ったのですか?

Why did you return to the first person voice?
過去の自作を読み返さないのはなぜ?

Why don’t you read your prior works?
新作が何十万人に読まれる気分は?

What does it feel like to have your new work read by tens of thousands of people?
世界的に成功して、見返したい批評家はいます?

Now that you’re globally famous, are there critics you want to go back and respond to?
死んだらどうなる?

What happens after we die?
村上春樹賞はつくられますか?

Will there be a “Murakami Haruki Prize”?

誰もが知りたくて訊けなかった
創作の源泉とその素顔を
鮮烈な言葉で引き出した貴重な記録

A precious record of the origins of creative works, and their bare faces, that everyone wanted to know but couldn’t ask, drawn out through vivid words

Source: Shinchōsha

Mark Zuckerberg Speaking Mandarin Chinese [Full Translation]

Mark Zuckerberg made his first public appearance speaking Mandarin Chinese today at Tsinghua University in Beijing. I’ve translated the entire interview below. He tackled a broad range of issues and even fielded student questions. Enjoy!

NB: Quartz.com has an alternate translation of some of the key passages. You should be able to find a transcription of the Chinese with a Google search. If there are mistakes in my translation, please don’t hesitate to point them out!

Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management

2014 Advisory Board Meeting

Tsinghua Students’ Dialogue with Board Members [of the Advisory Board]

Tsinghua x-lab Session

2014.10.22

 

Host Wei Xiaoliang (魏小亮):

(in English) Now let’s introduce the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg.

 

Mark Zuckerberg:

(in Mandarin) Hello everyone. I’m happy to be here. (applause) I’m happy to come to Beijing. I love this city. My Chinese is terrible, but today I’ll try speaking Chinese. Ok? (applause) I might need practice.

 

Host:

Mark, everyone is really surprised that you can speak Chinese. Why did you want to learn Chinese?

 

Zuckerberg:

Really interesting. (laughter) There are three reasons. Second… First, my wife is Chinese. (applause) Her family speaks Chinese and her grandmother speaks only Chinese. So, I want to communicate with them. Two years ago, Priscilla [Chan] and I decided to get married. So I told her grandmother– in Chinese. She was very surprised. (laughter)

 

Host:

Priscilla is your wife?

 

Zuckerberg:

Yeah. Second, I think it’s that I want to study Chinese culture. China is a great nation. I think learning the language helps me study the culture. So I study the language. Third, Mandarin is hard. I only speak English, but I like a challenge. (applause)

 

Host:

So, how about tonight we challenge him? I’ll speak in Chinese. How many times have you been to China?

 

Zuckerberg:

Four times. I’ve been to Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Tianjin…

 

Host:

Tianjin? Why did you go to Tianjin?

 

Zuckerberg:

When I’m in Beijing, I have to ride a fast [unclear] train. I also have to see Huo Yuanjia’s hometown. I really like this movie [the 2006 film Fearless《霍元甲》]. So I will see his hometown.

 

Host:

I see, so you’re a big fan of Huo Yuanjia, so you will go see his hometown. So which city do you like best?

 

Zuckerberg:

All of them [unclear]. Maybe I like Beijing the most. In all China… it has a lot of history.

 

Host:

So this time in China, what’s your plan?

 

Zuckerberg:

Pardon? (laughter)

 

Host:

This time in China, what’s your plan?

 

Zuckerberg:

This week I’m joining the Advisory Board of the Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management. I came to take part in the Advisory Board meeting. I think Tsinghua students are great. Facebook has more than 140 Tsinghua alumni. You are one! (indicating host) Every year, we recruit the best engineers in China. Just last week we recruited 20 Chinese students.

 

Host:

Right, just last month we recruited 20 Chinese students and soon they will come over to Facebook to work. So, could you talk about why you wanted to join the Advisory Board of the Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management?

 

Zuckerberg:

First, I have to thank Dean Qian [Yingyi 钱颖一]. Yeah, and, I’m honored to join the Advisory Board of the Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management. I’m very interested in education. In the USA, I’ve done a lot of things to support education. I wanted to take part in this committee [because it’s] a great opportunity for me to learn about and support education in China.

 

Host:

Great. Mark wants to support Chinese education. (applause) This month, you also went to quite a few different countries. What is the purpose of this trip?

 

Zuckerberg:

I’ve been to India, Indonesia, Korea, and Japan. We want to help more people use the Internet. Today, most of the world–65% or about five billion people–don’t have Internet. Some people–about 15%–don’t have a network. About 35% of people have never used a network. But most people who don’t have the Internet don’t have it because they don’t know why they [would] want to use the Internet. If you asked me–sorry, if I asked you, if you don’t have a computer, a phone, or the Internet and I asked you, “Do you want to use the Internet?” You might ask me, “Why would I want to use the Internet?” So there are lots of problems. But we need to connect the world. The Internet creates job opportunities and economic development. It’s very important.

 

Host:

Connecting the world is something Mark takes very seriously. You want to connect the world. When did you begin to want to connect the world?

 

Zuckerberg:

In 2004, I created the first version of Facebook because I wanted to connect all the students at Harvard. I have always thought there should be a product to connect the whole world, but I thought other companies [would] do it. I remember when I was a college student, every evening my friends and I would eat pizza and talk about the future. Long ago, after I created the first version [of Facebook], I told my friends, “I’m really happy we’ve helped connect students, but [there should be] a product to connect the world.” But we [were] just students. I thought another company [would] do it. I thought perhaps Google, Microsoft, or another company. They had more than ten thousand programmers and more than one hundred million users. We [were] just students. However, we’ve always believed that social media are very powerful. Other companies didn’t believe it. We’ve believed that all along, so we built one. Now, we have 1.3 billion users.

 

Host:

So in the last ten years, Mark built a truly amazing company. Mark, there are a lot of students here who want to start companies. What kind of advice to you have for them?

 

Zuckerberg:

Start a company? I think the best companies are started not because the founders want to start a company, but because the founders want to change the world. (applause) If you decide that you want to start a company, you might start to develop your first idea. You might recruit a lot of employees. But you might have lots of ideas. You don’t know which idea is the best. If your first idea is bad, then your company is bad. But, if you decide to change the world, shouldn’t you come up with many ideas? If any idea is good, then you create a company.

 

Host:

Great advice. Wait until your idea is good, then create a company. So, in the process of creating Facebook, what was the secret to your success?

 

Zuckerberg:

I think the best thing is that you can’t give up. Developing a company is hard. Most things won’t go smoothly. You will need to make difficult decisions; you will need to fire some employees.

 

Host:

Are you saying you’re going to fire me today? (laughter)

 

Zuckerberg:

So, if you don’t believe in your mission, it is easy to give up. Most entrepreneurs give up, but the best entrepreneurs don’t. So believing in your mission and not giving up are very important.

 

Host:

It’s safe to say you are one of the most successful entrepreneurs. What thoughts do you have about innovation in China?

 

Zuckerberg:

I think China has many of the world’s most innovative companies. Last night I had dinner with Lei Jun from Xiaomi. Right?

 

Host:

Yes, yes, yes.

 

Zuckerberg:

Xiaomi is a very innovative company. They are developing quickly and have lots of different products. They’re cheap. (laughter) I think Xiaomi will grow quickly. Tencent’s WeChat is also huge. Most Chinese people use WeChat or QQ. Taobao is also very innovative. Taobao creates job opportunities. I think China has many of the world’s most innovative companies.

 

Host:

So Mark really has a good feeling about innovation in our China. Speaking of China, I’m going to ask Mark a relatively difficult question. Will I get fired today? So, what’s your plan for Facebook in China? (applause) A difficult question.

 

Zuckerberg:

We’re already in China. (laughter) We help Chinese companies get more overseas customers. They use Facebook ads to find more customers. For example, Lenovo uses Facebook ads in Indonesia to sell new phones. I forgot, Lenovo’s [unclear]. Yeah, that one. In China I also see economic development. We’re very impressed. It’s amazing. So we want to help other places in the world connect to China. Like great cities, national parks… Hangzhou and Qingdao also have great pages on Facebook. We work with these cities to develop pages and share Chinese culture.

 

Host:

Great, and this difficult a question Mark answered with just one sentence. Let’s give him a round of applause. (applause) After a difficult question, let’s take it easy a bit. I’ll ask Mark some personal questions, easier questions, so he can give us some details of his [personal] life. So how about we ask you some questions about your personal life?

 

Zuckerberg:

Ok.

 

Host:

First question: what colors do you like?

 

Zuckerberg:

I can’t see red or green, because Facebook is blue. (Note: Mark is red-green colorblind.)

 

Host:

What kind of Chinese food do you like?

 

Zuckerberg:

When I’m in Beijing, I always eat Beijing street food (lit. hútóng xiǎochī), but I also like Beijing roast duck.

 

Host:

No wonder you like Beijing so much, you like Beijing street food and Beijing duck. So, outside of work, what kind of activities do you do?

 

Zuckerberg:

I have no time outside [of work]. (laughter)

 

Host:

Really?

 

Zuckerberg:

Ok, I cook with Priscilla.

 

Host:

I recall you also have a pet?

 

Zuckerberg:

We have a dog. His name is Beast. He’s a [Hungarian] sheepdog. He’s really short. I love him.

 

Host:

You also made a page for Beast.

 

Zuckerberg:

I develop Beast’s page. Beast has 2 million fans.

 

Host:

The next question is also hard. Between you and Priscilla, whose Chinese is better?

 

Zuckerberg:

In Mandarin, I can say more words, but she also speaks Cantonese. Her listening comprehension is better than mine. My listening is really bad. One day I asked her, “Why is my listening so bad?” and she told me, “Your listening is bad in English, too!”

 

Host:

Thank you so much Mark. We still have some time, so why don’t we invite one or two students to ask some questions?

 

Female student:

Should I use English or Chinese? Chinese? (asks a question in Mandarin, translated below)

 

Host:

How did you start Facebook, and…

 

Zuckerberg:

You asked me…

 

Female student:

(translates her own question into English) How did Facebook establish a competitive edge toward other social network sites and what was the biggest challenge? And the second question is at what moment did you get a leap of faith and decide to leave school and devote [yourself to] your enterprise?

 

Zuckerberg:

(in Mandarin) Second question: I was really fortunate. I never decided to leave. Harvard students can take temporary leave, so I created the first version of Facebook, and the second year it was too much to develop Facebook and go to class, so I was really fortunate in that I just took temporary leave and didn’t go to class. I’m still a Harvard student. From time to time, Harvard’s leader asks me, or tells me, “You can come back.” But now I can’t go back.

First question: the biggest challenge. Our biggest challenge perhaps was in 2012, when we needed to make Facebook a mobile company. Before, we weren’t one. In 2012, our growth was very slow, and our monetary growth was very slow, and everyone was unhappy. However, we made Facebook into a mobile company, and now we have more than one billion users using Facebook on their mobile phones.

 

Male student:

(in English) My name is Yang Zhilun, from the school of social work, and also a member of the x-lab. I’m very glad to ask a question. From the Internet and mobile Internet, we know that the progress of science and technology has greatly accelerated our human society, especially the revolution [sic]. From your perspective, what is the next big advance in technology?

 

Zuckerberg:

Very interesting. This year Facebook is ten years old.

 

Host:

Ten years? (Note: “Ten” sounds a lot like “four” in Mandarin.)

 

Zuckerberg:

So I ask, in the next ten years, what should we develop? I decided what are the next things we will develop. First, we need to connect the whole world. We need to help all people use the Internet. Second, we want to develop “artificial intelligence.”

 

Host:

(in Mandarin) Artificial intelligence.(人工智能)

 

Zuckerberg:

I don’t know [that word in Chinese]. I think ten years from now, computers will be better than humans at seeing, listening comprehension, and language, so we’ve developing that. Third, once everyone is using mobile phones, I believe the next platform is “virtual reality.” I don’t know how to say that [in Chinese] either.

 

Host:

(in Mandarin) Virtual reality. (虚拟现实)

 

Zuckerberg:

Oculus is the first product, but we want to have many products.

(End of video.)

Murakami Haruki’s new book: “The Men Without Women”  

World-renowned Japanese writer Murakami Haruki has a new book out, his first collection of short stories in nine years. The title is「女のいない男たち」or The Men Without Women, and it includes six new stories, all of which were first published in the last six months.

Last month I got my preordered copy of The Men Without Women (Japanese: Onna no inai otoko tachi) at Kinokuniya New York. It’s available for purchase online here for $24.50.

While Murakami’s novels are always published in English within a year or so of their initial publication (the next one, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, will come out this year), his short story collections are not usually published in English. That is, the publishers usually make their own collections, such as in the case of The Elephant Vanishes (17 stories spanning the 1980s, and published 12 years later in Japanese as「象の消滅」). The Chinese publishers seem to do the same thing. The difference is that the Chinese publishers will take a well-known story, make it the title of a collection, and publish it with a bunch of lesser-known stories. The English-language publishers seem to publish fewer, larger collections and simply don’t bother to translate and print the lesser-known stories. Thus, I surmise that this book may never come out in English as The Men Without Women. Fans who don’t read Japanese will have to wait for the next short story collection.

As for the title, I translate it as The Men Without Women rather than Men Without Women (or Men Whose Women Are Gone, etc.) because otoko tachi (rather than simply otoko) seems to refer to specific men. Indeed, in each of these six stories, the protagonist is a man without a woman. However, it is probably not a coincidence that Ernest Hemingway published a collection of ten short stories about men in 1927, called Men Without Women, and the name of that book in Japanese translation is—you guessed it—Onna no inai otoko tachi. It was translated by Ayukawa Nobuo in 1982, just when Murakami was beginning his writing career.

The Japanese Wikipedia page includes some trivia about the new book. Apparently, it is usual that it does not include a preface. The two stories “Drive My Car” and “Yesterday” were supposedly altered somehow before publication in the book, and “Drive My Car” has already been translated and published in Korean by Yang Eog-gwan (梁億寬).

Edit: The story “Sheherazade” was published in the Oct. 13 issue of The New Yorker and translated by Ted Gossen, a professor at York University in Toronto.

Below are the front and back covers of the book, with English translations of the story titles, descriptions, and dates/places of publication. All translations are mine, and thus later publications may make different choices.

 

Front cover

Onna no inai otoko tachi - Murakami Haruki (Copyright 2014)

Onna no inai otoko tachi – Murakami Haruki (Copyright 2014)

 

「女のいない男たち」

The Men Without Women

First issue April 20th, 2014

 

Murakami Haruki,

[His] short story world for the first time in nine years.

That story is

Deeper, sharper,

And exceeds expectations.

 

Bungei Shunju publication / Fixed price (JPY 1574 + tax)

 

Back cover

Onna no inai otoko tachi (Back cover) - Murakami Haruki (Copyright 2014)

Onna no inai otoko tachi (Back cover) – Murakami Haruki (Copyright 2014)

 

Six stories that intertwine and echo.

 

“Drive My Car”

Bungei Shunju Dec. 2013

Stage actor Kafuku hires Misaki, a female driver. Why did his deceased wife have to have a relationship with that man? Little by little, he began to tell Misaki.

 

“Yesterday”

Bungei Shunju Jan. 2014

What is the strange “cultural exchange” proposed by his classmate Kitaru, from Den-en-chōfu but who can speak perfect Kansai dialect? And then, 16 years passed.

 

“Independent Organ”

Bungei Shunju Mar. 2014

What did his friend, the confirmed bachelor Dr. Tokai, obtain for the first time by sacrificing his life?

 

“Scheherazade”

MONKEY Vol. 2 Spring 2014

Shut up in the “house” that is a lonely island on land, Habara is toyed with by the story that even the world finds captivating, told by the “contact person” woman after the affair.

 

“Kino”

Bungei Shunju Feb. 2014

Betrayed by his wife, Kino quit his job and opened a bar. Then at certain times, a strange presence would envelop the place.

 

“The Men Without Women”

First published here

One night after midnight, a phone call from his former lover’s husband came to deliver sad news.

Onna no inai otoko tachi - Murakami Haruki (Copyright 2014)

Onna no inai otoko tachi – Murakami Haruki (Copyright 2014)

Lu Xun on Loneliness – translated from the “Nahan” preface

我感到未嘗經驗的無聊,是自此以後的事。我當初是不知其所以然的;後來想,凡有一人的主張,得了贊和,是促其前進的,得了反對,是促其奮斗的,獨有叫喊于生人中,而生人並無反應,既非贊同,也無反對,如置身毫無邊際的荒原,無可措手的了,這是怎樣的悲哀呵,我于是以我所感到者為寂寞。

It was after that I felt a boredom I had never before experienced. At first I didn’t know why; later I thought it’s always such that when a person’s convictions receive praise it spurs their progress; receive opposition and it spurs their struggle. Only when screaming among strangers, when those strangers do not react—at once no praise, and no opposition—as if finding oneself placed on and endless wasteland, with no recourse at all: what sadness is this! Thus I assumed what I was felt was loneliness.

Lu Xun, Preface to Nahan [Outcry/A Call to Arms] (1922)

鲁迅《呐喊自序》1922年

I always come back to reading Lu Xun. He was too influential to overlook and too good to want to. His writing is clear and straightforward and sometimes I get the illusion he is writing in the present day, like I do reading Natsume Soseki. Lu Xun reminds me of Soseki in his mix of earnestness and satire; there I times I laugh out loud reading The True Story of Ah-Q or I Am a Cat. Another interesting connection I’ve noted is the number of Japanese words in Lu Xun’s writing, such as 便當 ‘convenient’ and 卒業 ‘to graduate.’ I don’t know whether these words were common in some register of Chinese and later fell out of use, or if Lu Xun borrowed them from Japanese, or both.

In any case, Lu Xun presents himself in the self-written preface to Nahan as a lonely idealist hoping to change minds but feeling lost. He tries to lose himself in copying ancient engravings until a friend persuades him to write a little something for a magazine called The New Youth. What he wrote became A Madman’s Diary and the rest is history.

NB: The translation above is mine.

How to use the Linguee dictionary to learn Spanish

I’ve been learning Spanish. In February, when I was studying in China I decided to learn Spanish. I chose Spanish because my home is in America and Spanish is fast becoming the second language of Americans. I’m excited by the number of people who speak Spanish, the variety of places I can go, and the opportunity to read literature by authors like Borges and Octavio Paz.

My language background: Learning Japanese & Chinese

When I learned Japanese I had no idea what I was doing. I took classes for several years, studied abroad as an exchange student in Japan, and after many struggles managed to speak Japanese. Chinese I learned gradually over about three years, the last of which I was studying in Shanghai. In learning Spanish I apply what I learned with Chinese and Japanese to learn Spanish better and faster. I found that when I learned Japanese I tried to memorize everything. I learned words that were archaic and rare and downright strange. In Chinese I learned many obscure onomatopoeia before I learned how to properly introduce myself. I don’t recommend anyone do that. I think it’s much more impressive to be able to speak simply and fluently than to know some crazy words.

Learning Spanish with a frequency list

With Spanish I have decided to use a frequency list as advised on Tower of Babelfish, and the Linguee dictionary as advised by Benny Lewis. The dictionary called Linguee is a side-by-side bilingual translation dictionary for several different European languages. I’m using the English and Spanish function to study Spanish. I go down the list of Spanish words by frequency I got from Wikipedia and input each word into the dictionary. I scan the English sentences an easy one and copy the English and Spanish sentences into Anki. I often highlight the Spanish word I will memorize and highlight its English equivalent on the other side. This is so I don’t get hung up trying to understand the entire card if the point is only to memorize one word.

Why Linguee is better than Google Translate

Why not just translate the frequency list with Google Translate and memorize the words individually? Wouldn’t that be faster? I don’t think so.

I tried this and saw several problems with this approach.

1)    Google translate is not accurate enough.

2)    Words can have several meanings. It’s not good to memorize several meanings at the same time. (See “Rules of Formulating Knowledge” at SuperMemo.)

3)    There’s no context. It’s often impossible to determine what a word means without context.

Copying the bilingual sentences solves these problems.

1)    Linguee is based on real translations made by humans.

2)    Linguee gives different meanings for a search term and even gives the relative frequency of each meaning.

3)    Linguee sentences show the natural context for a search term.

I get Spanish words in their natural context and have an English translation to check against to make sure I understand. Sometimes I understand the entire sentence and get grammar practice as well. If I don’t understand the sentence I can still learn the word, and can look up its meaning via the translation (without associating that one word with any English word). A great function of this dictionary is that it will show different meanings for a word, and even better, give the relative frequency of each of those meanings. If there are more than one relatively frequent meaning, I make an Anki card for each meaning. I try to make at least two cards per word.

Honestly, this method is a little cumbersome. If I was good at coding, I would write a code to search the dictionary and grab the sentences without me having to copy and paste them one by one, but I lack computer skills. Some might argue that it’s not efficient to learn Spanish this way. It might be better to start from a phrasebook. The most frequent words can likely be learned easily by learning some useful phrases, rather than random sentences. I think this may very well be true. However, I think this dictionary is an excellent resource and I wanted to share with you how I’ve been using it.

Let me know what you think. I’d like to know how you study languages and how you use dictionaries. Please drop me a line in the comment box!

 

PS: You can follow Benny Lewis on his blog Fluent in 3 Months, or on Twitter as @fi3m and @irishpolyglot. You can follow Linguee at @Linguee and in Spanish at @LingueeEs.

“Gold-threaded Gown” 金缕衣 – a Tang Dynasty poem by Du Qiuniang

Below I have translated a Tang Dynasty poem in Classical Chinese, supposedly by a famed courtesan Du Qiuniang, that is included in the Three Hundred Tang Poems. According to Wikipedia in Chinese, the poet Du Mu met Du Qiuniang in her old age and wrote a poem called “The Song of Du Qiuniang.” The preface includes the poem I have translated below, which later readers have interpreted as the work of Du Qiuniang herself.

“Gold-threaded Gown”

Du Qiuniang

勸君莫惜金縷衣

勸君惜取少年時

花開堪折直須折

莫待無花空折枝

[First pass]

I entreat you, do not covet that gold-threaded gown,

I entreat you to covet the time of your youth.

Flowers bloom and then are to be plucked,

Do not wait to pluck at a flowerless branch.

[Second pass]

My dear, covet not that gold-threaded gown,

Hold fast to the days of your youth.

Flowers in bloom are ripe for  picking,

Pluck not at a flowerless branch.

NB: There is a much better English translation by Andrew W.F. Wong available on his blog Classical Chinese Poems in English.

“A Tree That Took Flight” — a poem

“A Tree That Took Flight”

Kieran Maynard

At the plain’s edge
Right at the cliff over the valley
Stood a tree we wished at for good luck

Silly, heroic,
Watching our comings and goings
That tree towered over us all

Its bark was rubbed smooth
Where small hands could reach
Inside it was too tangled to fathom

Once the wind howled
And at the dawn’s light
That tree was nowhere to be found

2012.11.18

Kieran Maynard

Kieran Maynard

Writer, translator, researcher, traveler specializing in Japanese and Chinese literature.

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