Sunday, 14 September 2014

translation project: create abundance

since the evening of 9 september, just one day after my wife left for china, i have been extremely busy translating into english a book entitled create abuandance (创造丰盛), written by an internally influential chinese spiritual leader named xingyue zhang (张馨月).

as of today, i have finished rendering 64 pages (the whole book has 197 pages) of chinese text into 15,354 english words. most pages have been quite easy, but some are extremely difficult, since they refer to ancient chinese literature, as well as religious and / or buddhist scriptures.

i have never done any translation work since 1997: it was amazing even to myself that i finished rendering a thick book written by a british journalist into chinese within 3 months while i was tutoring almost 8 hours on a daily basis. the book has much political content, and was published in the same year when hong kong was officially returned to china and deng xiaoping died.

i hate translation work: it was challenging, boring and restricting. you have to be 'faithful' to the original text. you have a highly limited 'freedom' of expression. even when it is published and circulated widely, it is not your own creative work, which i always hold in highest esteem. as my physical health deteriorates, i feel much less efficient than i could - i made a name for myself as a particularly fast and good translator while i was still a student pursuing my first master degree in tianjin teachers university more than 30 year ago.

nevertheless, i have willingly been translating this book, because i share most of the ideas conveyed by the book. for the past few years, i have been particularly interested in finding the way to happiness. i have written much poetry about spiritual journey or growth. i believe and hope that the book will be not only theoretically interesting but also practically helpful to happiness-seekers, or anyone concerned with his or her spiritual well being.

of course, the book has some weaknesses: it is written with the chinese, mostly female readers in the author's mind. it has too many colloquial expressions, as well as too many (emphatic or rhetoric) repetitions.

i hope to finish the draft within 50 days. probably i will be the publisher of the translation. we plan to publish the english version by the end of this year.

10:55 pm, 14 sept 2014.

Monday, 1 September 2014

[archived]: Structured Poems-1 by Changming Yuan ©

Directory of Destines


Changing Yuan
Table of Contents

  1. January
  2. February
  3. March
  4. April
  5. May
  6. June
  7. July
  8. August
  9. September
  10. October
  11. November
  12. December
  13. Monday
  14. Tuesday
  15. Wednesday
  16. Thursday
  17. Friday
  18. Saturday
  19. Sunday
  20. North
  21. South
  22. Centre
  23. West
  24. East
  25. A
  26. B
  27. C
  28. D
  29. E
  30. F
  31. G
  32. H
  33. I
  34. J
  35. K
  36. L
  37. M
  38. N
  39. O
  40. P
  41. Q
  42. R
  43. S
  44. T
  45. U
  46. V
  47. W
  48. X
  49. Y
  50. Z
  51. 0
  52. 1
  53. 2
  54. 3
  55. 4
  56. 5
  57. 6
  58. 7
  59. 8
  60. 9
  61. Red
  62. Black
  63. Yellow
  64. Blue
  65. Orange
  66. White
  67. Green
  68. Grey
  69. Violet
  70. ?
  71. Etc
  72. Synesthesia
  73. Metaphor
  74. Simile
  75. Hyperbole
  76. Anthropomorphism
  77. Metonymy
  78. Oxymoron
  79. Point of View


Standing alone
At this coldest spot of the doorway
You pause, wondering which door to
Knock at, which to
Push or pull
So you can go inside
A warm room where you know
You cannot stay for the whole year
Nor would you come out of the same door
But which to enter:
The narrow door with a wide exit
Or the wide one with a narrow exit?


Rolling, flowing, dripping
From the palest memories of last year
The melting snow stops moving
But hung everywhere
Like crystals
Against the freezing fits of frantic winds

With the moon always broken
In this shortest month of the pearl
No love can be purified
No couple can enjoy a full honeymoon


At this true, truer outset of the year
When the world finally awakens
From its prolonged white hibernation
When we can march forward like soldiers
With the steadiest steps
Every life can now
Give a morning kiss
To earth, to the landscape
Without mask or cosmetics


All plants beginning to burgeon
Open their hands and hearts widely
To draw inspirations
From the season
To play with spring spirits
While the ghosts of those doomed to die
Within the year are stalking behind us
Some to the church
Some to the mind
Others to the corners of night


Seeds of hope, seeds of love
Deeply planted since last winter
In the fertility of
Dreams, expectations
All come into blossom
In every heart beating against sunlight
On every face beaming with smile
At every twig reaching into the sky
Just when leaves grow fullest, freshest
Before they begin to fade, or fail


Come, come to the open fields
Let’s embrace most daylight
Of the whole year 
In this northern hemisphere
Where we can stay young, younger
Enjoying our honeymoon
With the sun, with light
With warmth
Instead of cold darkness
That is dominating the other
Half of the world


Dogs are making human history (right)
When humans deal with dog days (right)
When the sullen, sultry sky witnesses:
Fraud, fervor, frenzy -- yes
It is our inner heat that has been
Warming the whole atmosphere
Like Julius’s inflated heart


With stone fruits
Like plums, apricots, preaches
Ripening rapidly
In this month of the sickle
It is high time to cut open
The secrets of sunlight
In their hardened hearts
Wrapped with the fleshiest
The juiciest season


In the open fields
Nothing, not even a wish is left
Except bare stems
Deep holes, bald twigs
But behind each closed door
Is a cozy room
private or public, full of
Colored fruits, plump seeds
And overflowing minds
As if all ready for the new school
of thought 


Burning, blooming
Like spring flowers
All tree leaves
Giggle, guffawing
With the west wind
In their fierce defiance
Against the elegy of the land
Recited aloud
In blood-throated voices


Most monotonous month:
Each passing day is depressed
Into a crow, its wings
Its body and tails
Newly glazed in the mists
Of thick dusk
Though its heart still
Lingers in the memory of
Summer’s orange morning glows 


As the sun sinks deeper every day
Into the other side of the world
The shadow is getting longer, darker
Making our lives slant more and more
Towards night, when nature
Tries to balance yin and yang
By covering each dark corner
With white snowflakes
Ever so softly, quietly

As each twig frowns hard at twilight
Why not give it smile and thus 
Book a space in heaven?

            -Monday’s child is fair of face

Beginning of endless beginnings
When we start running between
Sun shine and electric light, caring
No more about the moon on moon’s day 

            -Tuesday’s child is full of grace

Under Tiw’s rule, every law is
Established to stage war upon
The unlucky, who keep setting
Fires to avoid miss fortunes

            -Wednesday’s child is full of woe

Right in the middle of laboring
Even god of mercury turns green
As it persists in fasting
Far beyond the hump

            -Thursday’s child has far to go

God of thunder, man of wonder
We will continue despite hunger
Until we cannot go any farther
Or uphold our spirits together

            -Friday’s child is loving and giving

POETS day, TGIF, Day of Venus
Unlucky for those trying to catch
A few fish in the open sea, but lucky 
For whoever is swimming ashore

            -Saturday’s child works hard for a living

Though confined to their earthy coffins
All vampires are eager to go hunting
Both within the nightmares of mad dogs
And outside the shrinking orbit of Saturn

            - The child that is born on the Sabbath day is bonny and blithe, and good and gay.

East or west
All for a rest
When wanderers doze off in the sky
Meditators wake up to a distant cry


            after the storm
            all dust hung up
            in the crowded air
            with his human face
            frozen into a dot of dust
            and a rising speckle of dust
            melted into his face
            to avoid this cold climate
            of his antarctic dream
            he relocated his naked soul
            at the dawn of summer


            like a raindrop
            on a small lotus leaf
            unable to find the spot
            to settle itself down
            in an early autumn shower
            my little canoe drifts around
near the horizon
            beyond the bare bay


deep from the thick forest
            a birds call echoes
            from ring to ring         
            within each tree
hardly perceivable
            before it suddenly
            dies off into the closet
            of a noisy human mind


not unlike a giddy goat
            wandering among the ruins
            of a long lost civilization
            you keep searching
            in the central park
            a way out of the tall weeds
            as nature makes new york
            into a mummy blue


in her beehive-like room
            so small that a yawning stretch
            would readily awaken
the whole apartment building
            she draws a picture on the wall
            of a tremendous tree
            that keeps growing
            until it shoots up
            from the cemented roof                  

As the first born to the Semitic family
A was originally a picture of an alef or ox, the
Agricultural energy that was rotated twice until
Alpha loomed up in the Greek psychoscape even before
Adam became the chosen father of all Europeans close to
Athens, where Apollo had acupunctured wisdom and knowledge into
Aristotle, the intellectual ancestor of modern man, who inspired
Alexander to make the first effort of globalization, which did not reach East
Asia, the land of Ah Q’s, the largest hotel for
All travelers until centuries later, but it is
Atomic bombs that will blow up all our pasts and send us through
America to a higher civilization, where the drop of an
Apple is to enable us to fly to the other side of the universe
Along the cosmic string as
Africa, the heart of human darkness
Awaits for Buddha, Jesus, Allah or
An other unknown author to come and rotate for the third time
A scarlet letter of


boy, boy! britain begins beating brazil badly behind belrus' back, because bipedal britons believe brazilians behave better before boys become barbaric; beyond blue borders, bill's big bully boss blatantly breaks bounds by betraying blood-bound brotherhood, but bill's best biographer belies books braving bellicose breeds between balanced buoyancies.

beach birds besides boulders beget babies below beautiful bushes...


a Phoenician throw-stick
held high in his right hand
the Egyptian basket
lying far beyond his reach
what was, what is
the Chinese peasant
trying to do
in his story?

it is
neither a door
nor a delta
it is nothing, anything
but a hand
trying desperately
to open the door to the delta
when every reed bows down deeply 


born to be a double reed
that can be bent
into a long vowel
the most frequently used letter
in english, echoing endlessly
in silences

if pulled down, it offers two doors
one leading to Soul via will, the other
to Him via wisdom; if turned up right
it forms a mountain with three peaks
like three holy swords, pointing high
one against the sun
one against the moon
one against the sky

Facing always towards the east, it embraces
existence, equality, eternity, emancipation...


as in fragrant flowers
that keep flirting with sunlight
on a French afternoon

forwarded to the future
will be a foiled fairytale
about France, as it tries to
catch a deformed viper
with an ancient hook


Gives us all the glories of
God, Godot, the gorilla
Amidst the gamers, constantly
Reminding us of George
Germany, the G-spot,


inspired by a fence in hell
you were invented long ago
to connect every human
for a tall ladder of hope
that we can stand high
against the blue horizon
like the Babel Tower growing to reach Him
where I can find a home in the fame hall
where I can settle my soul in heaven


To begin with
The hieroglyphical origin of
My identity was simply no body
But a common reed
Bowing its head to the rising sun
On the barren bank of the Nile

Slim, tall, hollow-hearted
Standing against tropical heat
Until one day 'I' was used
As a human symbol, an open vowel
Referring to the speaker
And since then I have become
One of the most frequently spelt letters
In the linguistic order of the day
Always capitalized
To embody my dignity
Though I am nothing
But a common reed
That could have been made into a flute


a small cobra coiled
in a big pyramid's shape
always read to bite

just like Japan
just like Justice  


an other basket
you hold anything having a shape
but sand or water
*          *
for all your knighthood
you keep quiet before knowledge
but never the king


with an open angle
you embraces all legends
about light and lions


despite your body
as imposing as a massive mountain
you have a mindset
hidden deeply
in the wisdom of a little owl
in the plasticities of a drop of water


No, nobody knows this
But you are really no more
Or no less than the old
Egyptian metonymy of
A stream, river, lake, sea or
Even an entire ocean, where
There is always water , where
There are always fish
Rather than a synecdochic Z
Pushed straight upright
On the bank of the Euphrates


a rope loop propped up with hope
to lasso words running amuck

a mouth reshaped, repositioned
to pronounce the roundest vowel


not really a stoop
but a flag fluttering there
followed by pi rates

[archived]: Structured Poems-2 by Changming Yuan ©

12 feb2014:: Directory of Destines


a chord, made of sunlight
instead of grass
will lead each climber to the peak
though few can find it
on the hillside
beside the question


residing near their summer resort
through her entire year
after their marriage, (for better or for worse)
russian author catherine tries narrating
her bearish story from their wintery perspective
where her major concerns are perhaps
wrapping gershwin's rhapsody
around hieroglyphic spring sprouts


with a double hook
the sexist, the most charming shape
looking more like a naked woman
in postmodern art
than folded cloth used to cover her body
in an Egyptian tale

always ready to


the Egyptian loaf
far off the Phoenician mark
is still edible now


u is surely a part of you, while
you sound no more than a single letter
u, which is nothing but a copy of a chick
you used to be on the bank of the Nile, where
u can be changed into
v within an european word as in yvan; it's said
you have the makings of a
victor, a us or un representative who begins the
uniform, university, universe.


with the shape of victory
you are a viper in essence:
each victory is a  poisonous snake


pecking around a lion
only the little chick
knows the word's worth
as it writes the worlds' story
with its feet printed on the ground
rather than on a papyrus


only when two straight roads meet
at an intersection, or

only when you cross the road
crossing the border can you
understand why Christ's body is
nailed on the cross, but his soul
rises high above the land


You love ‘Y’, not because it’s the first letter
In your family name, but because it’s like
A horn, which the water buffalo in your
Native village uses to fight against injustice
Or, because it’s like a twig, where a crow
Can come down to perch, a cicada can sing
Towards the setting sun as loud as it wants to
More important, in Egyptian hieroglyphics
It stands for a real reed, something you can
Bend into a whistle or flute; in pronouncing it
You can get all the answers you need, besides
You can make it into a heart-felt catapult
And shoot at a snakehead or sparrow, as long
As it lands within the range of your boyhood


in opposite directions:
you are not so much like
a weird weapon, a manacle, or
a bolt for fastening the flood
of the Nile in ancient logography
as like a postmodern zebra
zigzagging with zeal
like a zealot trying to pass
through an inflated zero


meaning empty (for early indians?)
or no entry (to ancient chinese?)
definitely, it is no more, or
no less than a placeholder
between you and me
nothing that can be anything
except the wheel that keeps our civilization rolling
a circle, squeezed to look taller and slenderer
a shape, less round than a hole
but it can suck in a whole world

o that we were not all living within the circle
full of emptiness


first formed in the far east
a horizontal line
kept moving westwards
point by point
as it rose gradually
trying to stand up straight 
like the axis of the earth
to be identical with the first person singular
with or without a serif at the top
with or without a support at the bottom
until 1 and i became one and the same
presenting itself as a single unity
one that is its own factorial
its own square, its own cube, the identity
For multiplicities, each derived from tai chi or nothingness
First of all there was, there has been


one line originated from the yellow river
the other from the ganges
keep flowing parallel
until they joined each other
to form an open circle
as if to embrace
all other valleys of civilization

the first magic prime number
like yin and yang combined
to draw every human dichotomy
into double happiness, since all
good things come in pairs


first rotated
then curved
before being finally connected

The same three horizontal lines
as with the trinity
for the three gems

during wudhu
to stand in as many red words
written in solid, liquid and gas

since in a race anybody, anything
beyond this smallest prime number
is nobody, nothing. That’s why the lines

still remain parallel in Roman and Chinese:
one is almost dead, vertically
the other still very much alive, horizontally


just how a cross,
was joined between north and west
with a square, few know the truth
to grow in a twisted corner
where snow never smelts
winds blow in all other directions
where white shapes the solid, the touchable
inclusive indeed, like a glyph drawing all
the uncertainties to itself
always ready to bury, to create

the very outset of  abstractions
the legs of the whole universe
it is believed every tetramer is a sign of
speed, strength, stability


looming among the matrices
of ancient Brahmin Indians
you have come all the way
to present yourself in a bloated shape
of an equally old Chinese steelyard
rather than the Khmer glyph
with an enlarged hook
to weigh anything
even ether, even the soul
while the weight-beam is shortened
to mark our narrow senses


a forgotten European flirtation with a glyph
the Ghubar Arabs borrowed from Indians
all of whom dislike its squigglish tradition

a cherished number emulating the uppercase G
not really related to home, family, responsibility
but easy and smooth, what else on the road?


you are always lucky
though you have turned L upside down
otherwise, you would have been executed
by law, by light


first, a curved 1 from Indians
then, it was twisted until it became an S
ready to seduce, re-presenting itself like a 5
before the Arabs connected
her two closed circles
piling them one above the other
as if to round up
all sudden Chinese fortunes


a question mark without a definite dot
you stand on a single curved leg
to reach the highest level of changes
more like a shrunken dragon
than a swollen lowercased g
to be close to God
among just as many worthies, bows
and circles of hell
as though all in a divine comedy


seeing the strange belts
like little mouth masks
hung on bamboo poles
I often wondered:
what kind of clothing was that
so funny looking
in front of almost every straw-thatched cottage
but you boys don't bother about that
until one of my aunts told me
on a showering afternoon

it was only until I began dating
with a girl in a major city, so close
to beijing many years later
did I get to know them 
to be no other than menstrual rags

(a taboo of human blood?)

although they actually looked
more like shrunken flags
than thick masks

that's all I remembered about my boyhood
my native village, my motherland


coal, ebony, charcoal
crow, graphite, lactrodectus
chinese hair, african skin …
what do they all have
in common? - they are not
a color; rather, they are an absence of light
which becomes weaker and weaker
as stars keep moving farther and father
away from us

filled with light
within their dark shapes
they are quiet, but cool
and profound


as rich as old soil
from the qingzhang plateau
as long as endless water
from the huanghe river
as appealing as common rapeseed
as smooth as ripe banana skin
as noble as shiny as neon
as full as a tender egg yolk
as bold as the blatant yellow peril

as bold as blatant suggestions about the peril
from the east to the west


is, needless to say
the most powerful civilization; built
with the two pupils
of a caucasian blonde
between sea and sky, where
it has been permeating, where
it has prevailed

but until where? 


this is the most affordable color
since everyone can readily
get it by shedding blood upon gold
by staging a revolution
along the Yellow River, by smashing
rapeseed into roses, or simply
by chewing a chili heart
with mango flesh


out of thick clouds
like mountains of inflated cotton
high above spring fog, much
lighter than the snow of last year
a biblical dove flies, soaring around
as if unable to find a place
to perch on land, where reed flowers
grow tall in the fields of salt, where
ivories float around
in rivers of milk

while no pale surface is taking in any light
all colors gather into a blank filled with flour
slaked lime, or aging hair just to reflect
a whole living civilization


with the same word root as 'grass' and 'grow'
you are the only living color in the entire universe

most nutritious to the human vision, you possess
both the noblest pine tree and cheapest grass

along the trail through the forest of olive
your treading upon the season sounds like jade...


the most mediocre color
between black and white
that is engulfing every paved road
every naked building, even
every human soul
like ashes to ashes


you have degraded yourself
from the royal to the common
just as yang red has faded
into yin blue
like gray
between black and white   


Supposedly, a lightning flash
Striking from right to left
Or a lower-cased q as in question
Trying to stand up on an o
But can it be a crescent moon
Broken by darkness, a smashed star
Falling from the summer sky
Or a hook never able to catch
A lost soul that hopes to
Find an answer voiced
From a human mouth?

A lapse of the mind
An omission in the human utterance
A gathering of feeling

All dotted


we, yuan ii, by the grace
of god, emperor and autocrat of
all english words, king of dreamland
grand duke of assonance and
consonance, author of
allen qing yuan, architect of
george lai yuan, last scribbler of
poetic lines, et cetera et cetera
et cetera et cetera etc

herein proclaim ourselves as no extra ordinary line
but an ellipsis...


amidst glaring noises
dancing madly
around my cracking shape
i caught a cool euphony
drifting down gracefully
from the smiling sky
fragrant to the salty fingertips
of my soul 


with a big bang, the stage of the world
comes to the spotlight, where a shepherd
lay down for his sheep first, and
then all actors and actresses
flooded in, shuffling
between their exits and entrances
as religions, arts and science grow
from the same tree stump; where
souls are washed away
from the dust of human life; where
the crumbs of words fell down
from the feast of the mind, screen pages
are filled with breathings of the heart; and
every movement of the cursor
leads a fish biting at the hook

within this vast scene, we try to look at ourselves
beyond the entire picture


as hope grows like the twinning vine
she becomes as snug as a bug in a rug

when they compare thee to a mid-summer day
you feel happier than a tornado in a trailer park

while the highest goodness resembles water
your lines look similar to chinese chopsticks


white hair longer
than the yellow river
warm tears higher
than a tsunami
li bai grins as broadly
as the universe itself
while his words echo loud, louder
than the summer thunder, as if
to emulate an erupting volcano
to challenge God’s roaring


the sea smiling widely
with every wrinkle open
towards the morning sun, the trees balletting
in the storm of summer, the birds
chatting aloud, indeed, all is well
as God is taking a nap, dreaming
about becoming a human
both in form and in mind, where
nature imposes itself as a wild urchin
and the whole cosmos is expanding
from a past concept into its present body

that’s how we approach the world in our own terms
first, and last

            (A little tip for all crowns.)

give me the floor
lend me your ears
donkeys and elephants:
as a pen for the press
is much mightier than a sword
from waterloo, it’s high time now not
to spill out all your life in Hollywood
and march towards the white house
on the red carpet
by the sweat of your brow
while the kettle is still boiling


Bitter sweet or sweet bitter is love, a 
faith unfaithful that keeps you
falsely true to yourself, like
yinyang seen through with
mournful wisdom, at the very moment of
violent relaxation, while the
guest host stands
alone in a crowd, presenting herself in
dark night, among the
sounds of silence, to give a speech about this
sweet agony as a necessary process in
virtual reality: yes, we all
agree to disagree that
we love humanity, but loathe persons; isn’t that
American culture?

Point of View

no, no, no
no more do i want to be
a chinaman, brown-visioned
with all my yellowish
outlooks, yellowish sentiments

nor do I intend to be
a red-skinned big-foot
with my ancestors' vast land
all occupied by foreign devils

nor a rising black star
with evil pale-faced memories
nor a big white boss
with all his politically correct dollars

rather, I prefer to be a tiny rock
sitting still at a hilltop, on the roadside
watching, observing, or even
whistling when there is a wind blowing hard