The United Arab Emirates paper The National, the Middle East’s leading English-language news service, has published an investigation by Yang Lian 楊煉 into Chinese and Arabic poetry, in honor of Syrian poet Adonis.
The philosophical truths of the language and the immovability of verbs has confused many translators of Chinese poetry. But at the same time, don’t you think it provides also a great opportunity to write something more profound than just describing a concrete happening?
Du Fu’s Climbing High was a masterpiece about a poet universally in exile. The poem went far beyond himself. It was in the traditions of Ovid, Dante, Cvitayeva, Adonis, Yang Lian – all poets in exile across space and time.
Who is not in exile now? Therefore, who has in reality not been written about in Du Fu’s Climbing High 1253 years ago? It is the same as my poem written in the year 1989.
It was not wrong for that poem to be translated into the past tense (1989 is past), but if you read carefully the last line “this is no doubt a perfectly ordinary year”, then my point was clear, to challenge the changeless fate and forgetful nature of human beings. Therefore, I have to agree with the translations of Brian Holton in the present tense that contextualise poems in the eternal now. The same pleasant surprise came to me from the Syrian poet Adonis.
He examines the Du Fu 杜甫 poem “Climbing High” 登高, written in 767. Then:
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