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Poetry, Translation

Xu Zhimo – ‘Listening to a Wagner Opera’ (translated by Shelly Bryant)

The translation of this poem was originally commissioned by Lynn Pan for use in her research for her most recent book When True Love Came to China. She has generously allowed us to reprint the work at AlluviumWhen True Love Came to China can be found at Amazon.

Listening to a Wagner Opera

by Xu Zhimo
powers divine or demonic
bring forth thunderous
sounds, a raw howl
like waves on the wild deep;
hellish fires’ rumbles
thrill, like a leonine roar
commanding the seas to split
the skies rent ‘twixt stars and sun;
a sudden silence; only soft
sounds of pine forest
its gentle birdcall before
the cabin’s fluttering curtains;
silence, a portent overshadowing
a barren snowy landscape
o’erflown by a solitary bird
singing its sorrowful song;
in sorrowful song, the reed
flute’s secret seduction
like hoofbeats on a frozen
arid land, armor’s beating rhythm;
beating rhythm, a flood of sound
booming, crashing, banging
to signal a new epoch, the tune
of hoofs pounding and blood flowing;
it is Prometheus, the theft
and the rebellion, chained
to his mountain peak, each meal
dug out from his breast;
it is romance, sorrowful and tragic
it is love, devoted and loyal
all-consuming, universal and miraculous
all-surpassing love;
the artist’s inspiration
the genius of heaven
beyond all powers of explanation
lasting beyond human bonds;
a brewing gloom’s complaint
a raging holy love
a tragic compassion’s spirit
– the genius of the arts.
brilliant, furious, fervent, tragic
out of the forge of love
the artistic impulse draws
the peerless opera of Wagner
• Published in March 10, 1923 “Current News · Learning Light” Volume 5.3.8
† translated by Shelly Bryant, October 2013

听槐格讷(Wagner)乐剧

– 徐志摩

是神权还是魔力,
搓揉着雷霆霹雳,
暴风、广漠的怒号,
绝海里骇浪惊涛;
地心的火窖咆哮,
回荡,狮虎似狂嗥,
仿佛是海裂天崩,
星陨日烂的朕兆;
忽然静了;只剩有
松林附近,乌云里
漏下的微嘘,拂扭
村前的酒帘青旗;
可怖的伟大凄静
万壑层岩的雪景,
偶尔有冻鸟横空
摇曳零落的悲鸣;
悲鸣,胡笳的幽引,
雾结冰封的无垠,
隐隐有马蹄铁甲
篷帐悉索的荒音;
荒音,洪变的先声,
鼍鼓金钲荡怒,
霎时间万马奔腾,
酣斗里血流虎虎;
是泼牢米修仡司
通译普罗米修斯,
的反叛,抗天拯人
的奋斗,高加山前
挚鹰刳胸的创呻;
是恋情,悲情,惨情,
是欢心,苦心,赤心;
是弥漫,普遍,神幻,
消金灭圣的性爱;
是艺术家的幽骚,
是天壤间的烦恼,
是人类千年万年
郁积未吐的无聊;
这沉郁酝酿的牢骚,
这猖獗圣洁的恋爱,
这悲天悯人的精神,
贯透了艺术的天才。
性灵,愤怒,慷慨,悲哀,
管弦运化,金革调合,
创制了无双的乐剧,
革音革心的槐格讷!

五月二十五日■原载1923年3月10日《时事新报·学灯》第5卷3册8号。

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