Clattery MacHinery on Poetry

March 10, 2008

Life and Death from Beijing: a Poetry Sequence by Luisetta Mudie and Dreamer Fei

~~~~~
 

execution-by-yues-minjun.jpg
 

Editor’s note:

The title of this post derives from one of the most important memoirs of the last century, Life and Death in Shanghai by Nien Cheng, which came out in 1987.   She recounts in that book her imprisonment by the Red Guard during Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). Politically speaking, her work represents what many of us would know about China during that time period.

Shortly after that book’s publication, the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 took place in Beijing, in which upwards of 3,000 protesters, were killed or injured on orders from the Chinese goverment.   These protesters, many of them students, were by and large calling for democracy.

Here we are, approximately two decades later again, and it is the year of the Beijing Olympic Games.   Before the world supports, boycotts, or protests these games, or decides which grounds they will do this on; as events surrounding these issues surface through the media, we in the West may want to take a look at the heart of China, via the heart of one Chinese man, a poet.   Media can blind us to a fact we well know, that a big part of China’s heart is in poetry, and we need this information.

Everything written below here is either written or translated by Luisetta Mudie, who begins with a letter to you, her reader.

–Clattery MacHinery on Poetry

 

 

 

~~~~~
 

 

luisetta-mudie.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Reader,

A journalist friend of mine who is also a poet recently went back to China after 18 years in the US.   He was on the Square the night of the Tiananmen massacre.   Below are some prose reflections on his trip, but also some poems of his and mine relating to Tiananmen, to China, and about his son, who holds his sense of the future.

the-goddess-of-democracy-in-tiananmen-square.jpgThe prose and the poems were written by him in Chinese and rendered by me in English.   There may be other poems written by me at the same time, or in answer to his poems, as we had an ongoing poetic dialogue.   Chronologically, the poem sequence came before the prose, and is the culmination of a three-year dialogue between us, in which the poet is trying to move beyond both the concrete horrors of his student past, and, crucially, the numinous might-have-beens which haunt his generation.

It took those of his generation far longer to give up their longing for the idealized figures common to passionate young souls than it did for most of us, because those figures were made godlike and ultimately untouchable by the massacre that followed their emergence on the Square.   This passion that should have carried them into human life was forced instead into a twilight world of denial and strange attraction by the deaths that night in Beijing, and the government’s largely successful attempts to rewrite history.

But if we have the inclination, a poetic bent towards shade as well as light, those too-good angelic figures will show their true nature, which is also daimonic, and lead us into realms proper to poetry.

He would rather use his pen-name, Dreamer Fei, to avoid being identified.

Warmly,

Luisetta Mudie
Radio Free Asia
RFA Unplugged
 

 

~~~~~
 

 
boydragonpapercut.jpg
 

~~~~~
 

by Dreamer Fei
 

The Road Home
 

The giant Boeing 747 whistles through the thick dark cloud and white smog above the city, and touches down in a drastic way, reminding me that I am home again, after 18 hours of flight and 18 years of nostalgia.

It is about an hour’s drive from the airport to my parents’ apartment.   My cousin wanted to pick me up at the airport and show off his new Toyota Camry, but I declined.   I want to relax on the long journey home to adjust to the reverse culture shock of re-entry.   I have been warned about it by many overseas Chinese.   I get a cab; it costs 10 bucks.   I doze off as it snakes through the city traffic.

I was born and grew up in China.   Even after 18 years in America, I still eat Chinese food at least once a day.   Reading Chinese books is one of my favorite pastimes.   China is remote for me, yet it has continued to haunt my dreams.

tiananmen-square-1989-379x278.jpgI was a college student in 1989 and an eyewitness to the shootings and killings that night along Changan Avenue.   I was almost shot when I tried to persuade the soldiers not to fire on us.   I fled the country shortly after the tragedy.   But the tear gas, tanks, and crushed bodies permeated my dreams.   In one scene, I try to hold a fellow student crushed by a tank, and realize his two legs are gone, with only blood gushing from his body.   Such scenes are rewound and played again, night after night.   No time for healing after such an event.

It has been 18 years since I set foot in my hometown.   The cab brakes a bit and I wake up.   We are on the freeway.   Surprisingly, it has 12 lanes and is as good as any interstate in the U.S., if not better.   It is even more surprising that, along the freeway, you can see signs for W-Mart, Cosco, McDonalds, KFC, and Domino’s Pizza as well as Starbucks Coffee and IKEA, not to mention a Mobil gas station every 10 miles.

Am I in China? Did I take the right flight? In the days that follow, there are even more surprises in store.
 

Day one:   Environment Day

The drum beats.   Firecrackers plus the loudspeakers are deafening.   In the unsettled dust and smoke caused by the fireworks, hundreds of retired women dance cheerfully.   The government is holding Environment Day celebrations in a local park.   Government officials take turns giving the usual long speeches, talking about how environment protection is vitally important.   Everyone is a bit bored until, at the end of the ceremony, environmental officials and local primary school students release several hundred doves into the air, in a “back to the wild” gesture.

These doves fly high in the foggy sky for about 10 minutes before landing next to a huge pigeon coop to get their food on a cart in a corner of the same park.   The cart is owned by a farmer who makes a living by hiring out his doves for exactly this sort of stunt around the area.

It would be unfair to say that local governments don’t take environmental issues seriously.   In some areas, protecting the environment is more than a public show or a ceremony, because officials could lose their jobs if an environmental disaster happens.   A big chemical group in my hometown, funded by the government, planned to spend three billion yuan (around US$40 million) to tackle air pollution problems by reducing chemical waste and planting trees.   The river in my hometown—a mid-size city—used to be dirty and filled with industrial waste and dead animals.   In my memory, the color of the river was the same black as Chinese calligrapher’s ink.

But now, the river glitters on a sunny day (not that you get very many of them) and there are many weeping willows along the banks.   Several public parks have been built along the river as well; you can even see water lilies in one while standing under the traditional Chinese pavilions.   Along the newly built main avenue in the south side of the city, there are lawns with green grass, where huge plastic elephants and giraffes stand.

The locals say these projects are all done for the sake of face and to show off to top officials and tourists.   But hey, trees and grass are good, a glittering river is better than a dark one, and the “face” of the city really looks better than before.
 

Day Two:   Where is my old neighborhood?

One of the things that surprises me the most, is that I get lost when trying to find my own home, even though my folks still live in the same neighborhood I grew up in.   Now, most of the shabby old shacks that the poorer residents used to live in have been demolished, and the area is filled with high-rise buildings and commercial complexes.   Many of my old neighbors live in two-, three- or even four-bedroomed apartments with hardwood floors and all the modern utilities like refrigerators and washing machines.   These were luxuries for most Chinese 20 years ago.

“Life is good!” my old classmate tells me.   He now works at a law firm and bought a big condo two years ago.   He couldn’t afford the half a million yuan (U.S.$60,000) condo on his own, but his parents and his wife’s parents helped with the downpayment.   “Property prices are skyrocketing now.   If we hadn’t bought it, pretty soon we wouldn’t have been able to afford it at all.   And without that condo, my wife wouldn’t marry me,” he jokes.   I can feel his confidence about his future, though; he makes around 5,000 RMB (US$600) per month now.   “The monthly mortgage payment will remain the same, but our income will grow steadily,” he says.

But not everyone is as lucky and confident as my old classmate.   One day, as I am buying a pot of tall bamboos for my father in a farmer’s market, the old saleswoman asks me why I am buying it.   I tell her that my parents have moved into a new apartment and need some plants there.   She says she envies them.   She tells me that she used to have an old-style house in the downtown area where everybody knew everybody.   Now she has moved to the outskirts of the city.   “I miss the old neighborhood.   Sometimes I go back to see the old neighbors who live in the high-rise buildings and chat with them.”   Tears start from her eyes.   I ask why she doesn’t return.   She says the compensation she received when her old home was demolished for development wasn’t enough to afford a place there.   I don’t know what to say to her.

This city used to have many state-owned enterprises (SOEs), but since the early 90s, most SOEs have gone bankrupt, and thousands of workers have lost their jobs, many forced into early retirement.   The city is clearly divided into haves and have-nots, and in recent years, the gap between them has widened.   When you go to a luxury store, you can see Burberry shirts and golf clubs at prices higher than in London or New York.   Mercedes and BMWs prowl the streets, but in the farmer’s market, customers are haggling over a penny.   There are restaurants where you can spend US$100 per person for a seafood buffet, but you can also have a feast for only US$1 in a roadside vendor’s stand.
 

Day three:   Is social harmony possible?

In front of the gates of the city government, hundreds of tricycle taxis stage a quiet demonstration; they have signs on their tricycles saying “Legalize the tricycle!” “we want to survive!” “We want to pay taxes!”.   Since the systemic reforms and privatisation of the SOEs, strikes and demonstrations like this have been happening quite often in this city.   Some unemployed workers have managed to get some compensation due to the attention paid to the strikes and demonstrations, but it is barely enough to get them by, meaning they won’t be starving, but not enough to support their family, or pay for their kids to go to school, or for medical expenses like the occasional hospital visit.   Thus, some of the unemployed workers have made new jobs for themselves by using tricycles to taxi people around the city.   This has found favor with other people on a low income, especially the elderly, because they are cheaper than the bus and more convenient.   But now the cab drivers have had their noses put out of joint, and have complained to the police.   Others complain that the city’s 3,000 tricyle rickshaws are blocking traffic in the downtown area.   The police are always fining them, but they carry on with their business afterwards.

“They shouldn’t be legalized.   Shame on the city for letting them loose!” said the driver of one cab I rode in.

“We should be legalized.   We need to eat! It is better than stealing!” a tricycle-man told me while I took a ride with him.

I found out later that this saga has already dragged on for more than a year.   “The city government has a dilemma,” an old classmate who works for the municipality told me.   “If we legalize the tricycles, then more tricyclers will come out to make money, and we will get more complaints from taxi drivers, and traffic will be worse; but at the same time, we are under pressure to find those unemployed workers jobs.   If we ban all the tricycles, they will come to us for jobs.   Now what we do, we keep our eyes half open on this issue, which means we do nothing at this point, we only contain the amount of tricycles.”

One sunny afternoon, I take a walk into a riverside park.   I see the big rally going on.   Hundreds of old men and women all wearing Mao suits are listening to an old man’s speech.   He says:   “Our representatives went to Beijing to petition and they handed over the paperwork.   Now they are back; let us welcome them!” People burst into applause, welcoming the petitioners home as heroes.   Later I found out that the man giving the speech was a former Party secretary at a big factory who led the workers and cadres to complain about corruption on the part of the factory manager and asked for more compensation.   It seems to me that they are able to take a swipe at social injustice, including Communist Party officials without fear.

This is a surprise for me.   As a young student, I always admired Hyde Park in London where people can voice whatever opinions they want, and here they are having a public rally on such a sensitive issue; in China!   Even though the mass media are tightly controlled, people really do have some personal freedom now.   They can talk about politics and even say “President Hu Jintao sucks” in a restaurant, teahouse or even in the office.   Nobody holds you responsible or reports you to the police for that, because people just don’t care much about politics any more.
 

Day four:   The way back

My cousin insists on driving me to airport.   He says:   “You are impressed by too many good things.   I will show you something on the way back.”   We take a detour instead of the highway.

The road is dusty and bumpy, and the buildings and factories are the old ones I recognize from 20 years ago.   They are exactly the same, which is a shock.   I just can’t piece the two pictures together.

Now I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly side of China.   I don’t know where it is heading.   China is changing drastically, and it’s impossible to say whether for the better or the worse.
 

 

~~~~~
 

 
chinesewritingzhonggong.jpg
 

~~~~~
 

 

Poem Sequence

 

 

June 4, 2006

by Dreamer Fei
 

Tomorrow we will rise like the sun
 

Your images have floated outside my window
in I don’t know how many dreams,
suspended in endless youth.

Hand in hand, you stand, staring.
I push open the window, call softly:
Are you hungry? Cold?
Eyes look back like dark tunnels,
unknowing. The mouths make no sound.

They follow me, these eyes,

as shade follows shadow—
without name.
 

I know I should find your graves;

pay my respects to your families.
My son bounces along beside me,

fists full of yellow flowers—

but I don’t know where to find them.

You seem to ask how I could have fallen so,
from the night we drank, smoked, and sang the same song,

hand-in-hand on the Square.
 

It is the years that have fallen, I reply,
garlanded in mourning flowers, now rotting.

Wait for me, I say, follow me!
We’ll go see the world
or maybe our families will intermarry.

You kept me company for years

until one day on the June grass
you sat down and said:
Tomorrow we will rise like the sun
and scatter warmth on the green earth.

Don’t forget to bring your child.

Bring the future

and we’ll set off together
on the long road home.
 

 

~~~~~

 

June 4, 2004

by Luisetta Mudie

for the survivors of Tiananmen Square
 

The Price of the Asking
 

First love: the quavering call
to the cosmos,
the soul in ashes shudders in desire,
yet still imprisoned
by grammar.

Fresh loves succeed, first love gone by.
It’s you, of course, and you too—
love as the answer!

Fresh loves mature, no longer enough.
We ask again, work, drink, smoke,
take the veils of flesh, or words.

And all the time the forgotten soul
is waiting, knowing that the first love
is always, always
a question

for which the price of the asking
is life’s deepest response,

the price of the answer
the soul’s great work,

the price of the loving
a self given up to the whole story.
 

 

fandian.jpg
 

~~~~~

 

February 13, 2005

by Dreamer Fei

to Christopher, at one year old
 

Midnight Sun
 

Nestled in the crook of my arm, you sleep,
Fingers hooked around my shirt-button.
I carry you like a stringed instrument,
whose milky chords permeate the night.

Since you were born, I have held
The light of your arriving cry that night
When your first ray of life broke through
Big snows and winter dark, guiding

My soul-ship in its wandering ways,
A song thrummed from a well-earthed string.
So many days and nights lie before you,
My son! Ready to ensnare your heart

As you grow through wind and storm,
A far cry from tonight’s soft moonlight. Here,
Now, I am mindful of your spring fragility:
That I will be gone before you fully bloom.

What dream will sustain you, or what path
Your feet will take, I cannot know.
Soon, all that time will be as tonight, when I
Stand at the doorway, watch you on the way

to your heart’s home.
 

 

~~~~~

 

July 2004

by Luisetta Mudie
 

I have followed you
 

delawarebeach.jpgTo a small island near the courtyards
of the Huangpu Military Academy
where the river sleeps its long siesta

Mud-sluggish down past Tiger’s Gate,
bathing the estuary in oblivion—memories
of shame and gunfire are left for humans

To where a northern township lies
battered in a sea of bitter dust, the earth
and its people tortured by history

Along the sand of a Delaware beach,
voice crackling across microwaves—the cry
of lonely ghosts swept away by the wind

Out on the dark wings of memory to a night
that changed the world’s dream forever,
leaving us to pick up lost echoes of love

With the hot closeness of words in the throat,
words fought for, bought and paid for, picked
up by the roadside and between train carriages

Into poems as unanswerable as the weather
at the rain-soaked borders of sea-country,
poems that promise the storm but can never hold it

And there I saw you first, still see you, happy
on a boat in yellow, fish held high in the sea-sway,
your brave and careful eyes asking one question. When?
 

 

~~~~~

 

2005

by Dreamer Fei
 

How I wish
 

I could rock you to sleep
like carrying a baby, telling stories
under unknown stars

I could guide and protect you
wipe away tears
bring back a smile

Or one Saturday at the piano
I could just hear you
then read you my poems
with the sun streaming through the window

We could stand, hands idly linking
in the front garden, watching the children
Or later, in the back, watch the sun sleep
and the night fall, and come gently to each
other in the flesh

We could explore the whole world then
sail the impossible blue

Later still, when the deadline is near,
we could say together in fragile voices
that we are not sure if there’s a paradise ahead of us
but didn’t we just live one on earth?

Strangely, it’s already enough, my love
with the present to share and a future out there
We have the dream fulfilled and beyond the dream’s scope
poetry, imagination and a growing passion

Now I know that a bittersweet teardrop
can serve to moisten a dry old heart

Dissolve me; make a better man
 

 

~~~~~

 

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~~~~~

August 28, 2007

Taslima Nasreen: Women’s Rights vs the Holy Hell

_____

Taslima Nasreen, International Women’s Day, March 8, 2007,
Women’s Rights, the Veil and Islamic and Religious Laws

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Taslima Nasreen or Nasrin was born in Mymensingh in what then was known as East Pakistan. Read more about this poet, writer, physician, radical feminist, human rights activist, and secular humanist here:

Family Security Matters: Taslima Nasreen: A Woman of Moral Substance

Here is an excerpt from that article:

The life of Taslima should be protected. If India fails to protect her and panders to its Muslim community by not punishing imams who incite hate, then Islamist bigotry and intolerance will have destroyed its secular ideals as surely as they have already destroyed those of Pakistan and Bangladesh.

That article also links to several Taslima resources, including an excerpt, which is essentially poetry, from her book Nirbachito Kalam which is here:

Digital Freedom Network: In Their Own Words: Nirbachit Kalam

Here is the first section:

I am alive. I also tell the half naked woman cooking her rice on a makeshift fire on the footpath, keep alive. I tell the anxious woman with a heavily made-up face sitting on the park bench, keep alive. I tell the sad woman arrayed in her fineries in the air-conditioned mansion, keep alive. I tell the innocent bride of the drunkard who returns home late at night, keep alive. Keep alive, woman; woman, live. Live abundantly.

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taslima-nasreen-by-jayanta-shaw-reuters.jpg

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Here is a link to her web site:

Taslima Nasreen/Nasrin

There, you will find links to her biography, her books and reviews, along with her banned books, articles by and about her, and more.

The link there to her poetry, translated into English, is here:

Poetry

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taslima-nasrin.jpg

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February 10, 2007

By Myself Pouring Wine as the Moon Shines

Li Bai (701-762)
 
 
by Li Bai (701-762)
 
 
By Myself Pouring Wine as the Moon Shines
 
 
From the filled jug of wine left within the blossoming bed,
I pour with no love nor family by. Loneliness sets in.

Drawn to its beam, I raise a brimming cup and face the moon–
an encounter that spawns a shadow. We’ve become a trio.

The aloof moon, as of late, has been declining to imbibe
and the faithful shaver, my shadow, follows my every move.

For tonight, anyway, we three will be boon companions.
Turned on, we’ll be stepping out. Spring leaves us too soon.

I try to sing, and the moon starts its little swaying move,
which gets me dancing till my poor shadow’s all confused.

With so much in common, we rouse to the time of our lives
until, in a drunken fog, we let go, dispensed into a cured world.

Ever cast to find passion in an age of fruitless wandering,
our feelings are mutual. I’ll see you in that cosmic cloudy dynasty.
 
 

_____

January 26, 2007

Li Bai drinking alone (with the moon, his shadow, & 43 translators)

The Tang poet Li Bai–a.k.a. Li Po, Li Bo and the Poet Immortal–left us over 1,000 poems. Besides these, he is also known by the way it is said he died. He supposedly drowned drunk, trying to embrace the moon’s reflection in the Yangtze River.

Below are 41 English translations (from 43 translators (and counting)) to one of his three poems most commonly titled with some variation of “Drinking Alone in the Moonlight” or “Drinking Alone with the Moon.” I have ordered them in rough chronological order, and put the date of each translation, or my best approximation, before it. If you know I am wrong about a date (or anything else, for that matter), please let me know and I will make the correction.
 
 

_____

 
 

by 李 白 (Li Bai) (701-762)

 
 

花間一壺酒
獨酌無相親
舉杯邀明月
對影成三人
月既不解飲
影徒隨我身
暫伴月將影
行樂須及春
我歌月徘徊
我舞影零亂
醒時同交歡
醉後各分散
永結無情遊
相期邈雲漢

 
 

_____

 
 
tr Herbert A. Giles ~1900?
 
 
Last Words
 
 
An arbor of flowers and a kettle of wine:
Alas! In the bowers no companion is mine.
Then the moon sheds her rays on my goblet and me,
And my shadow betrays we’re a party of three!
Thou’ the moon cannot swallow her share of the grog,
And my shadow must follow wherever I jog,
Yet their friendship I’ll borrow and gaily carouse,
And laugh away sorrow while spring-time allows.
See the moon–how she dances response to my song;
See my shadow–it dances so lightly along!
While sober I feel, you are both my good friends;
While drunken I reel, our companionship ends,
But we’ll soon have a greeting without a goodbye,
At our next merry meeting away in the sky.
 
 

_____

 
 
tr W.A.P.Martin ~1900?
 
 
On Drinking Alone by Moonlight
 
 
Here are flowers and here is wine,
But where’s a friend with me to join
Hand in hand and heart to heart
In one full cup before we part?

Rather than to drink alone,
I’ll make bold to ask the moon
To condescend to lend her face
The hour and the scene to grace.

Lo, she answers, and she brings
My shadow on her silver wings;
That makes three, and we shall be.
I ween, a merry company

The modest moon declines the cup,
But shadow promptly takes it up,
And when I dance my shadow fleet
Keeps measure with my flying feet.

But though the moon declines to tipple
She dances in yon shining ripple,
And when I sing, my festive song,
The echoes of the moon prolong.

Say, when shall we next meet together?
Surely not in cloudy weather,
For you my boon companions dear
Come only when the sky is clear.
 
 

_____

 
 
tr Ezra Pound, 1915
 
 
Amongst the flowers is a pot of wine
 
 
Amongst the flowers is a pot of wine
I pour alone but with no friend at hand
So I lift the cup to invite the shining moon,
Along with my shadow we become party of three

The moon although understands none of drinking, and
The shadow just follows my body vainly
Still I make the moon and the shadow my company
To enjoy the springtime before too late

The moon lingers while I am singing
The shadow scatters while I am dancing
We cheer in delight when being awake
We separate apart after getting drunk

Forever will we keep this unfettered friendship
Till we meet again far in the Milky Way
 
 

_____

 
 
tr W.J.B.Fletcher, 1919(?)
 
 
We Three
 
 
One pot of wine amid the Flowers
Alone I pour, and none with me.
The cup I lift; the Moon invite;
Who with my shadow makes us three.
The moon then drinks without a pause.
The shadow does what I begin.
The shadow, Moon and I in fere
Rejoice until the spring come in.
I sing: and wavers time the moon.
I dance: the shadow antics too.
Our joys we share while sober still.
When drunk, we part and bid adieu.
Of loveless outing this the pact,
Which we all swear to keep for aye.
The next time that we meet shall be
Beside you distant milky way.
 
 
 
[note: Douglas McNeal points out that this last line may have been written: “Beside yon distant milky way.”]
 
 

_____

 
 
tr Arthur Waley, 1919
 
 
Drinking Alone by Moonlight
 
 
A cup of wine, under the flowering trees;
I drink alone, for no friend is near.
Raising my cup I beckon the bright moon,
For he, with my shadow, will make three men.
The moon, alas, is no drinker of wine;
Listless, my shadow creeps about at my side.
Yet with the moon as friend and the shadow as slave
I must make merry before the Spring is spent.
To the songs I sing the moon flickers her beams;
In the dance I weave my shadow tangles and breaks.
While we were sober, three shared the fun;
Now we are drunk, each goes his way.
May we long share our odd, inanimate feast,
And meet at last on the Cloudy River of the sky.
 
 

_____

 
 
tr Florence Ayscough & Amy Lowell, 1921
 
 
Drinking Alone in the Moonlight
 
 
A pot of wine among flowers.
I alone, drinking, without a companion.
I lift the cup and invite the bright moon.
My shadow opposite certainly makes us three.
But the moon cannot drink,
And my shadow follows the motions of my body in vain.
For the briefest time are the moon and my shadow my companions.
Oh, be joyful! One must make the most of Spring.
I sing–the moon walks forward rhythmically;
I dance, and my shadow shatters and becomes confused.
In my waking moments we are happily blended.
When I am drunk, we are divided from one another and scattered.
For a long time I shall be obligated to wander without intention.
But we will keep our appointment by the far-off Cloudy River.
 
 

_____

 
 
tr Amy Lowell &/or Florence Ayscough
 
 
Drinking Alone in the Moonlight
 
 
A pot of wine among flowers.
I alone, drinking, without a companion.
I lift the cup and invite the bright moon.
My shadow opposite certainly makes us three.
But the moon cannot drink,
And my shadow follows the motions of my body in vain.
For the briefest time are the moon and my shadow my companions.
Oh, be joyful! One must make the most of Spring.
I sing–the moon walks forward rhythmically;
I dance, and my shadow shatters and becomes confused.
In my waking moments, we are happily blended.
When I am drunk, we are divided from one another and scattered.
For a long time I shall be obliged to wander without intention;
But we will keep our appointment by the far-off Cloudy River.
 
 

_____

 
 
tr Shigeyoshi Obata, 1922
 
 
Three with the Moon and his Shadow
 
 
With a jar of wine I sit by the flowering trees.
I drink alone, and where are my friends?
Ah, the moon above looks down on me;
I call and lift my cup to his brightness.
And see, there goes my shadow before me.
Ho! We’re a party of three, I say,–
Though the poor moon can’t drink,
And my shadow but dances around me,
We’re all friends to-night,
The drinker, the moon and the shadow.
Let our revelry be suited to the spring!

I sing, the wild moon wanders the sky.
I dance, my shadow goes tumbling about.
While we’re awake, let us join in carousal;
Only sweet drunkenness shall ever part us.
Let us pledge a friendship no mortals know,
And often hail each other at evening
Far across the vast and vaporous space!
 
 

_____

 
 
tr Witter Bynner, 1929(?)
 
 
Drinking Alone with the Moon
 
 
From a pot of wine among the flowers
I drank alone. There was no one with me–
Till, raising my cup, I asked the bright moon
To bring me my shadow and make us three.
Alas, the moon was unable to drink
And my shadow tagged me vacantly;
But still for a while I had these friends.
To cheer me through the end of spring . . .
I sang. The moon encouraged me.
I danced. My shadow tumbled after.
As long as I knew, we were boon companions.
And then I was drunk, and we lost one another.
. . . Shall goodwill ever be secure?
I watch the long road of the River of Stars.
 
 

_____

 
 
tr Robert Payne, 1958
 
 
Drinking Alone under Moonlight
 
 
Holding a jug of wine among the flowers,
And drinking alone, not a soul keeping me company,
I raise my cup and invite the moon to drink with me,
And together with my shadow we are three.
But the moon does not know the joy of drinking,
And my shadow only follows me about.
Nevertheless I shall have them as my companions,
For one should enjoy life at such a time.
The moon loiters as I sing my songs,
My shadow looks confused as I dance.
I drink with them when I am awake
And part with them when I am drunk.
Henceforward may we always be feasting,
And may we meet in the Cloudy River of Heaven.
 
 

_____

 
 
tr William Acker, 1967
 
 
Amidst the Flowers a Jug of Wine
 
 
Amidst the flowers a jug of wine–
I pour alone lacking companionship,
So raising the cup I invite the moon,
Then turn to my shadow which makes three of us.
Because the moon does not know how to drink
My shadow merely follows my body.
The moon has brought the shadow to keep me company a while,
The practice of mirth should keep pace with spring.
I start a song and the moon begins to reel,
I rise and dance and the shadow moves grotesquely.
While I’m still conscious let’s rejoice with one another,
After I’m drunk let each one go his way.
Let us bind ourselves for ever for passionless journeyings.
Let us swear to meet again far in the Milky Way.
 
 

_____

 
 
tr J.C. Cooper, 1972
 
 
The Little Fete
 
 
I take a bottle of wine and I go to drink it among the flowers.
We are always three–
counting my shadow and my friend the shimmering moon.
Happily the moon knows nothing of drinking,
and my shadow is never thirsty.

When I sing, the moon listens to me in silence.
When I dance, my shadow dances too.
After all festivities the guests must depart;
This sadness I do not know.
When I go home,
the moon goes with me and my shadow follows me.
 
 

_____

 
 
tr Irving Yucheng Lo, 1975
 
 
Drinking Alone Beneath the Moon
 
 
A pot of wine among the flowers:
I drink alone, no kith or kin near.
I raise my cup to invite the moon to join me;
It and my shadow make a party of three.
Alas, the moon is unconcerned about drinking,
And my shadow merely follows me around.
Briefly I cavort with the moon and my shadow:
Pleasure must be sought while it is spring.
I sing and the moon goes back and forth,
I dance and my shadow falls at random.
While sober we seek pleasure in fellowship;
When drunk we go each our own way.
Then let us pledge a friendship without human ties
And meet again at the far end of the Milky Way.
 
 

_____

 
 
tr Rewi Alley, 1980
 
 
Alone and Drinking Under the Moon
 
 
Amongst the flowers I
am alone with my pot of wine
drinking by myself; then lifting
my cup I asked the moon
to drink with me, its reflection
and mine in the wine cup, just
the three of us; then I sigh
for the moon cannot drink,
and my shadow goes emptily along
with me never saying a word;
with no other friends here, I can
but use these two for company;
in the time of happiness, I
too must be happy with all
around me; I sit and sing
and it is as if the moon
accompanies me; then if I
dance, it is my shadow that
dances along with me; while
still not drunk, I am glad
to make the moon and my shadow
into friends, but then when
I have drunk too much, we
all part; yet these are
friends I can always count on
these who have no emotion
whatsoever; I hope that one day
we three will meet again,
deep in the Milky Way.
 
 

_____

 
 
tr Barry Hughart, 1984
 
 
from his novel Bridge of Birds
 
 
Among the flowers, with a flask of wine,
I drink all alone–no one to share.
Raising my flask, I welcome the moon,
And my shadow joins us, making a threesome.

As I sing, the moon seems to sway back and forth;
As I dance, my shadow goes flopping about.
As long as we’re sober, we’ll enjoy one another,
And when we get drunk, we’ll go our own ways.

Thus we’ll pursue our own avatars,
And we’ll all meet again in the River of Staaaaaaars!
 
 

_____

 
 
tr Burton Watson, 1986
 
 
Drinking Alone Under the Moon
 
 
A jug of wine among flowers
I drink alone, for there’s no companion.
I raise the cup and invite the moon,
With my shadow we become three.
Of course the moon does not understand drinking;
The shadow purposelessly traces my body.
But I accompany the moon and the shadow anyway
The pursuit of pleasures must continue until the spring.
The moon wanders as I sing;
The shadow rattles when I dance.
Still sober, we share our joys;
After drunk, each goes its way.
Permanently joined for feelingless journeys–
Perhaps to the remote Milky Way.
 
 

_____

 
 
tr Innes Herdan, 1987
 
 
Drinking Alone With The Moon
 
 
From a pot of wine among the flowers
I drank alone. There was no one with me –
Till, raising my cup, I asked the bright moon
To bring me my shadow and make us three.
Alas, the moon was unable to drink
And my shadow tagged me vacantly;
But still for a while I had these friends
To cheer me through the end of spring….
I sang. The moon encouraged me.
I danced. My shadow tumbled after.
As long as I knew, we were boon companions.
And then I was drunk, and we lost one another.
…Shall goodwill ever be secure?
I watch the long road of the River of Stars.
 
 

_____

 
 
tr Daniel Palkowski
 
 
Among the flowering vines:
A flask of wine
Alone, I sip..no one to share my reverie
So I raise my cup, beckon the moon come down to dine
And see my shadow flicker forth–
From one is born a band of three!
Since the moon cannot enjoy my drink
And my shadow only follows my weaving hand
These fleeting friends will do, I think
At least while spring still warms the land!
I sing: the moon reels above
I dance: my shadow flickers wildly about
As long as I can stay awake
This party of three will joyfully shout..
Soon drunken sleep will quell our fun
And my trio will separate back into one
Cold hearted friends, we’ll pass each other by
And wave by the light of the river in the sky..
 
 

_____

 
 
tr Elling O. Eide, 1994
 
 
Drinking Alone in the Moonlight
 
 
Beneath the blossoms with a pot of wine,
No friends at hand, so I poured alone;
I raised my cup to invite the moon,
Turned to my shadow, and we became three.
Now the moon had never learned about drinking,
And my shadow had merely followed my form,
But I quickly made friends with the moon and my shadow;
To find pleasure in life, make the most of the spring.

Whenever I sang, the moon swayed with me;
Whenever I danced, my shadow went wild.
Drinking, we shared our enjoyment together;
Drunk, then each went off on his own.
But forever agreed on dispassionate revels,
We promised to meet in the far Milky Way.
 
 

_____

 
 
tr Stephen Owen, 1996
 
 
Drinking Alone by Moonlight
 
 
Here among flowers one flask of wine,
with no close friends, I pour it alone.

I lift cup to bright moon, beg its company,
then facing my shadow, we become three.

The moon has never known how to drink;
my shadow does nothing but follow me.

But with moon and shadow as companions a while,
this joy I find must catch spring while it’s here.

I sing, and the moon just lingers on;
I dance, and my shadow flails wildly.

When still sober we share friendship and pleasure,
then, utterly drunk, each goes his own way–

Let us join to roam beyond human cares
and plan to meet far in the river of stars.
 
 

_____

 
 
tr Winifred Galbraith, 1997
 
 
Drinking under the Moon
 
 
The wine among the flowers,
O lonely me!
Ah moon, aloof and shining,
I drink to thee.

Beside me, see my shadow,
Rejoice we three!
Moon, why remote and distant?
Dance with my shade and me.

                                    *

This joy shall last for ever,
Moon, hear my lay,
My shade and I can caper
Like clouds away.

And drunk we are united
(But lone by day)
Let’s fix eternal trysting
In the Milky Way.
 
 

_____

 
 
tr Xu Yuanchong, 1997
 
 
Drinking Alone under the Moon
 
 
Amid the flowers, from a pot of wine
I drink alone beneath the bright moonshine,
I raise my cup to invite the Moon who blends
Her light with my Shadow and we’re three friends.
The Moon does not know how to drink her share;
In vain my Shadow follows me here and there.
Together with them for the time I stay
And make merry before spring’s spent away.
I sing and the Moon lingers to hear my song;
My Shadow’s a mess while I dance along.
Sober, we three remain cheerful and gay;
Drunken, we part and each may go his way.
Our friendship will outshine all earthly love,
Next time we’ll meet beyond the stars above.
 
 

_____

 
 
Drinking Alone by Moonlight
 
 
Among the flowers a pot of wine,
I drink alone; no friend is by,
I raise my cup, invite the moon,
And my shadow; now we are three.
But the moon knows nothing of drinking,
And my shadow only apes my doings;
Yet moon and shadow shall be my company.
Spring is the time to have fun.
I sing, the moon lingers,
I dance, my shadow tangles,
While I’m still sober, we are gay together,
When I get drunk, we go our different ways.
We pledge a friendship no mortals know,
And swear to meet on heaven’s Silver River.
 
 

_____

 
 
tr Sun Dayu, 1997
 
 
Drinking Alone under the Moon
 
 
With a jug of wine among the flowers,
I drink alone sans company.
To the moon aloft I raise my cup,
With my shadow to form a group of three.
As the moon doth not drinking ken,
And shadow mine followeth my body,
I keep company with them twain,
While spring is here to make myself merry.
The moon here lingereth while I sing,
I dance and my shadow spreadeth in rout.
When sober I am, we jolly remain,
When drunk I become, we scatter all about.
Let’s knit our carefree tie of the good old day;
We may meet above sometime at the milky way.
 
 

_____

 
 
tr Sam Hamill, 2000
 
 
Drinking Alone
 
 
I take my wine jug out among the flowers
to drink alone, without friends.

I raise my cup to entice the moon.
That, and my shadow, makes us three.

But the moon doesn’t drink,
and my shadow silently follows.

I will travel with moon and shadow,
happy to the end of spring.

When I sing, the moon dances.
When I dance, my shadow dances, too.

We share life’s joys when sober.
Drunk, each goes a separate way.

Constant friends, although we wander,
we’ll meet again in the Milky Way.
 
 

_____

 
 
tr Vikram Seth, 2001
 
 
Drinking Alone with the Moon
 
 
A pot of wine among the flowers.
I drink alone, no friend with me.
I raise my cup to invite the moon.
He and my shadow and I make three.

The moon does not know how to drink;
My shadow mimes my capering;
But I’ll make merry with them both–
And soon enough it will be Spring.

I sing–the moon moves to and fro.
I dance–my shadow leaps and sways.
Still sober, we exchange our joys.
Drunk–and we’ll go our separate ways.

Let’s pledge–beyond human ties–to be friends,
And meet where the Silver River ends.
 
 

_____

 
 
tr Dongbo
 
 
Solitary Moonlight Drunk
 
 
One jug of wine
                a thicket of flowers,
A solitary drunk
                no friends around.
I raise my cup
                urge Moon to drink,
But Moon has no stomach for wine!
Shadow stalks my tettering form,
Moon and Shadow
                my transient chums,
The three of us
                giddy as springtime,
I sing out!
                Startled!
                                Moon stops dead,
I jitterbug!
                Shadow boogies drunkenly.
Sober we’re bosom friends,
                Pickled we scatter.
I yearn to trek to the frigid beyond,
And together plunge into Star River.
 
 

_____

 
 
tr Paul Rouzer
 
 
Drinking Alone Under the Moon
 
 
Among the flowers, a single jug of wine;
I drink alone. No one close to me.
I raise my cup, invite the bright moon;
facing my shadow, together we make three.
The moon doesn’t know how to drink;
and my shadow can only follow my body.
But for a time I make moon and shadow my companions;
taking one’s pleasure must last until spring.
I sing–the moon wavers back and forth.
I dance–my shadow flickers and scatters.
When I’m sober we take pleasure together.
When I’m drunk, we each go our own ways.
I make an oath to journey forever free of feelings,
making an appointment with them to meet in the Milky Way afar.
 
 

_____

 
 
tr Keith Holyoak, 2005
 
 
Drinking Alone Under the Moon
 
 
Alone among the flowers with a jug of wine,
Without a single friend to drink with me,
I lift my glass and invite the bright moon to come
Join in—now the moon, my shadow and I make three.

I know the moon is not a famous drinker,
My shadow’s toast no more than mimicry,
And yet for a little while the three of us
Carouse in springtime camaraderie.

I sing, and the moon sways to and fro in rhythm;
I dance, and my shadow floats in harmony.
Drinking, we share our joys with one another;
After, we’ll need to find them separately.

Let’s meet again, at the end of the Silver River,
And there, my friends, resume our revelry!
 
 

_____

 
 
tr Tony Barnstone & Chou Ping, 2005
 
 
Drinking Alone by Moonlight
 
 
A pot of wine in the flower garden,
but no friends drink with me.
So I raise my cup to the bright moon
and to my shadow, which makes us three,
but the moon won’t drink
and my shadow just creeps about my heels.
Yet in your company, moon and shadow,
I have a wild time till spring dies out.
I sing and the moon shudders.
My shadow staggers when I dance.
We have our fun while I can stand
then drift apart when I fall asleep.
Let’s share this empty journey often
and meet again in the milky river of stars.
 
 

_____

 
 
tr Zhang Tingshen & Wei Bosi, 2005
 
 
Drinking Alone under the Moon
 
 
A jug of wine amidst the flowers:
Drinking alone, with no friend near.
Raising my cup, I beckon the bright moon;
My shadow included, we’re a party of three.
Although the moon’s unused to drinking
And the shadow only apes my every move
For the moment I’ll just take them as they are,
Enjoying spring when spring is here.
Reeling shadow, swaying moon
Attend my dance and song.
Still sober, we rejoice together;
Drunk, each takes his leave.
To seal forever such unfettered friendship
Let’s rendezvous beyond the Milky Way.
 
 

_____

 
 
tr David Landrum 2007
 
 
We Three
 
 
Some wine, a flower garden, I alone
To pour the wine and drink it here, unknown.
I lift the cup aloft and I invite
The Moon to drink with me. To my delight,
She joins me—then my shadow makes us three!
Together we indulge in revelry.
The Moon drinks, and my shadow—what a laugh!—
Now imitates me down the moonlit path!
I dance, my shadow dances with me there.
Still sober, here a moment’s joy we share.
When drunk, we part as friends and say farewell
But make a promise none would dare to tell:
To meet again and drink another day,
Not long from now, beyond the Milky Way!
 
 

_____

 
 
tr 2007
 
 
By Myself Pouring Wine as the Moon Shines
 
 
From the filled jug of wine left within the blossoming bed,
I pour with no love nor family by. Loneliness sets in.

Drawn to its beam, I raise a brimming cup and face the moon–
an encounter that spawns a shadow. We’ve become a trio.

The aloof moon, as of late, has been declining to imbibe
and the faithful shaver, my shadow, follows my every move.

For tonight, anyway, we three will be boon companions.
Turned on, we’ll be stepping out. Spring leaves us too soon.

I try to sing, and the moon starts its little swaying move,
which gets me dancing till my poor shadow’s all confused.

With so much in common, we rouse to the time of our lives
until, in a drunken fog, we let go, dispensed into a cured world.

Ever cast to find passion in an age of fruitless wandering,
our feelings are mutual. I’ll see you in that cosmic cloudy dynasty.
 
 

_____

 
 
tr Carol Saba, 2007
 
 
Li Bai’s Solitary Considerations in the Moonlight
 
 
A bottle found on the garden path
is invitation enough for friendless me.
I beckon the moon and smile at my shadow
for I’m no longer alone; now we are three.

The moon is not much of a drinking companion,
my shadow can’t share an original thought;
yet I will spend time with these as my friends
to relish the waning spring eve as I ought.

I sing to the moon, it sways to my song,
I dance with my shadow, it bounces along;
awake, we three are the same as one
but drunk I fall back to being alone.

Eternally bound to the mythic journey
we each have our place on the way to the stars.
 
 

_____

 
 
tr Luisetta Mudie, 2007?
 
 
Drinking alone
 
 
Here among the flowers I have a flask of wine
To pour out just for me: no company tonight.
I raise my glass instead to the bright moon,
And my shadow makes the third.

Though the moon declines, says she can’t hold her liquor,
And my shadow dogs me stupidly wherever I turn,
I’ll make do with these strange companions,
And enjoy the fleeting music of spring.

I sing, and the moon wavers, as if at a crossroads.
My shadow dances along with me.
Friends might keep their pleasures sober
Parting once drunkenness sets in

Or they might swear to keep an otherworld feast–
Time-honoured, out beyond the star-cloud river.
 
 

_____

 
 
tr Robert S Whilde, 2008?
 
 
Alone; Drinking in the Moonlight
 
 
Amidst the flowers, with a jug of wine,
I drink alone, without friends.

I raise my cup to entice the moon
That, and my shadow, makes us three

Sigh. Because the moon cannot drink,
My shadow silently follows.

But the moon has brought my shadow
And I shall travel with them, happy ‘till the end of spring.

When I sing, the moon dances
When I dance, my shadow dances, too

While I’m conscious let us rejoice together;
After I’m drunk each will go his way.

Let us pledge a friendship few mortals know,
And bind ourselves, for ever, to this journeying;
Let us swear to meet again in the clouded river of the stars
 
 

_____

 
 
tr David Lunde, 2008
 
 
Drinking Alone Beneath the Moon
 
 
One jar of wine among the flowers,
no dear friend to drink with:
I offer a cup to the moon.
With my shadow there are three of us,
but the moon doesn’t know how to drink,
and my shadow can’t help but follow me.
Still, I’ll make do with their company,
have fun and make the most of spring.
I sing and the moon rolls around,
I dance and my shadow leaps about.
While I’m lively we enjoy each other,
when I get too drunk we go our own ways.
Let’s keep this undemanding friendship
till we join together in the far Cloud River.
 
 

_____

 
 
tr Chris Weimer, 2009
 
 
Among the flowers with a jug of wine
I drink alone no friends for company
I lift my cup inviting the bright moon
Its face my shadow and myself make three

Alas the moon does not know how to drink
And all my shadow does is follow me
I beg you moon and shadow stay a while
And play with me before the spring can flee

I sing the moon’s glow flickers too and fro
I dance my shadow falls in frantic play
When sober we shared happiness together
Now drunk farewells are all we’ve left to say

Pledge never ending level headed friendship
We’ll meet again on the far Milky Way.
 
 

_____

 
 
tr Ying Sun, 2009
 
 
Drinking Alone with the Moon
 
 
From a wine pot amidst the flowers,
I drink alone without partners.
To invite the moon I raise my cup.
We’re three, as my shadow shows up.
Alas, the moon doesn’t drink.
My shadow follows but doesn’t think.
Still for now I have these friends,
To cheer me up until the spring ends.
I sing; the moon wanders.
I dance; the shadow scatters.
Awake, together we have fun.
Drunk, separately we’re gone.
Let’s be boon companions forever,
Pledging, in heaven, we’ll be together.
 
 

_____

 
 
tr Bill Thomas, 2009
 
 
Off His Face in the Flower Border
 
 
Sitting in the flowers with a bottle of wine,
alone, I pour another glass
and raise it to salute the moon,
who, with my shadow, makes three of us.

The moon’s not drinking;
my shadow’s a copycat;
let’s have fun anyway,
enjoy Spring while we can.

I sing: the moon dances.
I dance: my shadow staggers.
While I drink, they’re my best friends:
when I fall over, they scatter.

Promise me we’ll be friends for ever,
do this again with the stars in heaven.
 
 

_____

 
 
tr Steven D. Owyoung, 2011
 
 
Drinking Alone Beneath the Moon
 
 
Amidst flowers with a pot of wine,
I drink alone, companionless.
Raising a cup, I invite the bright moon
To add my shadow, and we become three.
But the moon does not drink
And the shadow simply follows me.
Moon and shadow are but fleeting partners,
Yet one must find joy in life.
As I sing, the moon lingers;
I dance, and the shadow stumbles after.
While sober, we shared our happiness;
Now drunk, we go our separate ways.
Forever bound, roaming without a care,
We will meet again beyond the Milky Way.
 
 

_____

 
 

(extra credit)

 
 

George Thorogood’s I Drink Alone

 
 

Duration 5:45

 
 

_____

December 19, 2006

Adonis: ‘We, in Arab society, do not understand the meaning of freedom’

   

Duration 4:40

_____

   

This is from The Middle East Media Research Institute: Special Dispatch Series, No. 1393

The video above is better viewed on the MEMRI site from here:

MEMRI TV Clip 1335

Below is the transcript translated into English by MEMRI.

   

_____

   

Renowned Syrian Poet ‘Adonis’: ‘We, In Arab Society, Do Not Understand The Meaning Of Freedom’

The poet Ali Ahmad Sa’id (b. 1930), known by his pseudonym “Adonis,” a 2005 candidate for the Nobel Prize for Literature, left his native Syria for Lebanon in the 1950s following six months’ imprisonment for political activity. In 1973, he received his Ph.D. from St. JosephUniversity in Beirut; in 1985, he settled in Paris, where he now works as a writer and literary critic. Among other occupations, he has edited the modernist magazine Mawaqif (Viewpoints), and translated some of the great French poets into Arabic. The following are excerpts from interviews with Adonis, which aired on ANB TV on November 26, 2006 and on Dubai TV on March 11, 2006.

November 26, 2006 Interview

to view this clip: MEMRI TV Clip 1335

Adonis: “The difference between Europe and the Islamic world is in quality, not in degree. What I mean is that the Christian view of the world is not political, but humanistic. It is human beings who are the basis for politics.

“A Christian has great liberty to separate his religious faith from his political activity. The mistake committed by the Church in the Middle Ages was rectified–obviously after a struggle and violent revolutions–and political rule was entirely separated from politics . . .”

Interviewer: “From religion . . .”

Adonis: “From religion, sorry. In our case, political rule was based . . . Ever since the struggle over who would inherit Prophet Muhammad’s place, political rule was essentially based on religion.”

Interviewer: “But there were great revolutions in the Arab and Islamic world. Take, for example, the ideology of Arab nationalism. This ideology may be connected with Islamic culture, but it is still a man-made ideology.”

Adonis: “But the ideology of Arab nationalism, in all its forms, is a religious ideology, in the sense that it has never raised any cardinal question concerning religion.”

[. . .]

“The Arabs have managed to turn democracy or the revolution into a dynastic or monarchic regime, which is handed down. Most Arab regimes are monarchic regimes, one way or another.”

Interviewer: “Including the republics . . .”

Adonis: “Especially the republics. In my opinion, while it is true that colonialism has played a role, and the wars with Israel have played a role, the greatest responsibility is, nevertheless, on us Arabs.”

[. . .]

“The Arab individual does not elect from among people of different opinions who represent different currents. The Arab is accustomed to voting according to pre-determined concepts. Whoever represents this pre-determined concept . . . The nationalist will vote for a nationalist, and the communist will vote for a communist. These are all types of religious sects. The tribal and sectarian structure has not disintegrated, and has not melted down into the new structure of democracy and the democratic option.”

[. . .]

“There can be no living culture in the world if you cannot criticize its foundations–the religion.

“We lack the courage to ask any question about any religious issue.

“For example, as a Muslim, I cannot say a single word about the Prophet Moses.

“The Prophet Moses did not say anything to me as a Muslim, whereas the Israeli Jew can criticize Moses and all the prophets in the Torah, and he can even question the divinity of the Torah.”

[. . .]

“We, in Arab society, do not understand the meaning of freedom. We say that freedom means writing an article. Freedom is much deeper than that.”

Interviewer: “Even writing an article is not possible.”

Adonis: “True. Arab society is based on many types of invisible slavery, and the ideology and political rule conceal them with worthless slogans and political discourse. The underlying structure of Arab societies is a structure of slavery, not of liberty.”

   

_____

   


   

March 11, 2006 Interview

to view this clip: MEMRI TV Clip 1076

Adonis: “Words are treated as a crime today. Throughout history, there has never been anything similar to what’s happening today in our Arab society–when you say a word, it is like committing a crime.”

Interviewer: “True.”

Adonis: “Words and opinions are treated as a crime. This is inconceivable.”

Interviewer: “You can be arrested for writing an article.”

Adonis: “That’s one example.”

[. . .]

“In the Koran itself, it says that Allah listened to his first enemy, Satan, and Satan refused to obey him. I believe that Allah was capable of wiping out Satan, yet He listened to Satan’s refusal to obey Him.

“At the very least, we demand that Muslims today listen to people with different opinions.”

[. . .]

Interviewer: “How do you view the plan for democracy, the ‘Greater Middle East’ plan?”

Adonis: “First of all, I oppose any external intervention in Arab affairs. If the Arabs are so inept that they cannot be democratic by themselves, they can never be democratic through the intervention of others.

“If we want to be democratic, we must be so by ourselves. But the preconditions for democracy do not exist in Arab society, and cannot exist unless religion is reexamined in a new and accurate way, and unless religion becomes a personal and spiritual experience, which must be respected.

“On the other hand, all issues pertaining to civil and human affairs must be left up to the law and to the people themselves.”

Interviewer: “Mr. Adonis, how do you view the democracy in Palestine, which brought Hamas to power?”

Adonis: “I support it, but I oppose the establishment of any state on the basis of religion, even if it’s done by Hamas.”

Interviewer: “Even if it liberates Palestine?”

Adonis: “Yes, because in such a case, it would be my duty to fight this religious state.”

[. . .]

Interviewer: “What are the reasons for growing glorification of dictatorships–sometimes in the name of pan-Arabism, and other times in the name of rejecting foreigners? The glorification comes even from the elites, as can be seen, for example, in the Saddam Hussein trial, and in all the people who support him.”

Adonis: “This phenomenon is very dangerous, and I believe it has to do with the concept of ‘oneness,’ which is reflected–in practical or political terms–in the concept of the hero, the savior, or the leader. This concept offers an inner sense of security to people who are afraid of freedom. Some human beings are afraid of freedom.”

Interviewer: “Because it is synonymous with anarchy?”

Adonis: “No, because being free is a great burden. It is by no means easy.”

Interviewer: “You’ve got to have a boss . . .”

Adonis: “When you are free, you have to face reality, the world in its entirety. You have to deal with the world’s problems, with everything . . .”

Interviewer: “With all the issues . . .”

Adonis: “On the other hand, if we are slaves, we can be content and not have to deal with anything. Just as Allah solves all our problems, the dictator will solve all our problems.”

[. . .]

“I don’t understand what is happening in Arab society today. I don’t know how to interpret this situation, except by making the following hypothesis: When I look at the Arab world, with all its resources, the capacities of Arab individuals, especially abroad–you will find among them great philosophers, scientists, engineers, and doctors. In other words, the Arab individual is no less smart, no less a genius, than anyone else in the world. He can excel–but only outside his society. I have nothing against the individuals–only against the institutions and the regimes.

“If I look at the Arabs, with all their resources and great capacities, and I compare what they have achieved over the past century with what others have achieved in that period, I would have to say that we Arabs are in a phase of extinction, in the sense that we have no creative presence in the world.”

Interviewer: “Are we on the brink of extinction, or are we already extinct?”

Adonis: “We have become extinct. We have the quantity. We have the masses of people, but a people becomes extinct when it no longer has a creative capacity, and the capacity to change its world.”

[. . .]

“The great Sumerians became extinct, the great Greeks became extinct, and the Pharaohs became extinct. The clearest sign of this extinction is when we intellectuals continue to think in the context of this extinction.”

Interviewer: “That is very dangerous.”

Adonis: “That is our real intellectual crisis. We are facing a new world with ideas that no longer exist, and in a context that is obsolete. We must sever ourselves completely from that context, on all levels, and think of a new Arab identity, a new culture, and a new Arab society.”

[. . .]

“Imagine that Arab societies had no Western influence. What would be left? The Muslims must . . .”

Interviewer: “What would be left?”

Adonis: “Nothing. Nothing would be left except for the mosque, the church, and commerce, of course.”

[. . .]

“The Muslims today–forgive me for saying this–with their accepted interpretation [of the religious text], are the first to destroy Islam, whereas those who criticize the Muslims–the non-believers, the infidels, as they call them–are the ones who perceive in Islam the vitality that could adapt it to life. These infidels serve Islam better than the believers.”

   

_____

November 23, 2006

Faith’s Review and Expectation by John Newton (Amazing Grace, that is)

   

   

originally a poem
   

written with William Cowper (1731-1800)
   

by Rev. John Newton (1725-1807)
   

Faith’s Review and Expectation
   

Amazing grace! (how sweet the sound)
That sav’d a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears reliev’d;
How precious did that grace appear,
The hour I first believ’d!

Thro’ many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promis’d good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.

Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease;
I shall possess, within the vail,
A life of joy and peace.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who call’d me here below,
Will be for ever mine.
   

_____

   
Note: The video that was on YouTube of LeAnn Rimes singing “Amazing Grace” in a church, is no longer available. Here is a Google video that uses the song:
   

Duration 3:51

   

performed by LeAnn Rimes
   

Amazing Grace
   

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now I’m found.
I was blind, but now I see.

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to feel
And grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that grace appear,
The hour I first believed.

When we’ve been dead ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Then when we first begun.

Amazing grace, O how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now I’m found.
I was blind, but now I see.
   

_____

   

Duration 6:00

   

in Cherokee
   

u ne la nv i u we tsi
i ga go yv he i
hna quo tso sv wi yu lo se
i ga gu yv ho nv
a se no i u ne tse i
i yu no du le nv
ta li ne dv tsi lu tsi li
u dv ne u ne tsv
e lo ni gv ni li squa di
ga lu tsv he i yu
ni ga di da ye di go i
a ni e lo hi gv
u na da nv ti a ne hv
do da ya nv hi li
tsa sv hna quo ni go hi lv
do hi wa ne he sdi
   

_____

November 15, 2006

From Pining Poem to Haunting Anthem: "Dark Eyes" by Yevhen Hrebinka

   

Duration 2:12

Chet Atkins (1924-2001)

   

_____

   

originally a poem in Ukrainian
   

by Yevhen Hrebinka (1812-48)
   

composer unknown
   

Dark Eyes (The Gypsy Anthem)
   

Eyes of ecstacy, always haunting me,
Always taunting me, with your mystery,
Tell me tenderly, you belong to me
For eternity–dark eyes talk to me!

Eyes so dark and dear, eyes of loveth here,
Beauty full and true, I’m in love with you.
Give me eyes of love, like the stars above.
You stole my heart. May we ever part!

Gypsy melody that has haunted me,
Won’t you set me free of all memory:
Of the time that’s waste, of the path we traced
Of the pain we taste–so endlessly!
   

_____

   


   

К. П. Гребенка

Очи черные, очи страстные !
Очи жгучие и прекрасные !
Как люблю я вас! Как боюсь я вас !
Знать, увидел вас я в недобрый час !

Ох, недаром вы глубины темней !
Вижу траур в вас по душе моей,
Вижу пламя в вас я победное:
Сожжено на нем сердце бедное.

Но не грустен я, не печален я,
Утешительна мне судьба моя:
Все, что лучшего в жизни бог дал нам,
В жертву отдал я огневым глазам !
   

_____

   

Duration 2:02

Dmitri Hvorostovsky (b. 1962)

   

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