Geuren van de lente

 

Scents of Spring

 

春的气息

 

Thanks to the Vietnamese poet Hô Xuân Huong (1772 - 1822) who lends me much more than just the title. Thanks also to Vietnamese painter Tran Nguyen Dung (Hanoi, 1942) for the images.

While reading you can listen to the song A Moonlit Night On The Spring River

 

proloog

een betel kauwende wellustige monnik
schrijft vijf heilige schriftrollen boordevol


met vissen en spinnen, van liefde, leven,
dood, samsara, het universum voorbij

de kleuren, had ik maar geleerd
om te zien zonder te kijken, nog zijn

mijn ogen verblind door het rode stof van
de vijf rijken en vormen van mijn zintuigen

 

prologue

a betel chewing lustful monk pens
down five fortune scrolls brim-full

of fishes and spiders of love and life,
death and samsara, the universe

beyond the colours, if only I had
learned to see without looking, as it is

my eyes are blinded by the red dust of
the five realms and forms of my senses

 

序曲

 

一个咀嚼槟榔 充满欲望的和尚

写了五个命运签

 

满是鱼,蜘蛛,爱,生,死,轮回,宇宙

 

色彩之外,多希望我会不看而见  如是

五蕴红尘   遮蔽了我的眼睛

 

 

lentefestival

soms vind ik mezelf terug in maanverlichte tuinen
sterfruit etend en kijkend naar vallende engelen


draken komen hier om te sterven, vorm slokt leegte op, ruimte
verslindt vorm, overal blijven fragmenten van mezelf achter


tevreden drinkt een baby meisje aan de borst van haar
moeder, beiden vrolijk en vol vertrouwen over hun lot


waardig beschermd door hun dode voorouders
geef ik hun een zilveren munt voor aardse tegenslag

 

spring festival


some nights I find myself in moonlit gardens
eating star fruit and facing falling angels

my dragons come here to die, form eats emptiness
space swallows form, leaving bits of myself behind

a pink baby girl feeds at her mother’s breasts
both cheerful and confident about their fate

already solemnly protected by their death ancestors
I hand them a round coin with square hole against the ill winds

 

 

那些夜晚,在月下花园

我吃着杨桃,看天使坠落

 

我的龙们 来到这里死去

形式蚕食了虚空

空间吞噬了形式

只留下一丁点儿的我

 

一个粉色的小婴孩,吮吸着她母亲的乳房

对于命运  两人都愉快且有信心

 

逝去的祖先已给她们庄严的护佑

但我仍递上一枚铜钱

保佑平安

 

 

in een muziektuin

meisjes in traditionele ao dai-jurken drinken thee uit
blauwe en huidblanke transparant porseleinen kopjes

vingers verweven met de snaren van de lange citer
en peervormige luit, als speelse katjes, hun hele

geschilderde leven in een lied, als marionetten aan
de penselen van de schilder, voorjaarsbloemen plukkend


van de dan tranh, sprekend in zes muzikale tonen, klanken
als woorden kunnen heel verschillende dingen betekenen

 

in a musical garden


girls in traditional ao dai dresses drinking tea from
blue and skin pallid cups of transparent porcelain

fingers interlacing with the snares of long zither
and pear-shaped lute, like kittens playing spring games

their entire painted life in a song, like puppets on
the brushes of the painter, picking sound flowers

from the dan tranh, speaking in six musical tones,
sounds like words can mean vastly different things

 

在乐之园

 

在乐之园,有众婵娟,华服窈窕,共饮茶煎。

袄带翩跹,茶香满园,天工晶莹,蓝杯白盏。

 

在乐之园,有众婵娟,十指纤纤,落珠玉盘。

长琴齐特,梨样枇杷,似猫于春,嬉戏人间。

 

在乐之园,有众婵娟,歌绘人生,七彩绚烂。

又如傀儡,丹青之上,妙音如花,任君采撷。

 

在乐之园,有众婵娟,古琴铮铮,六音之言。

宫商角徵,合四乙尺,如泣如诉,颂尽百态。

 

de witgekalkte geur van bloemen

lippenstift droog, poeder vervaagd, vertel de bloemen
meisjes niet op het graf van Hô Xuân Huong te stappen

voorjaarsbloesems doorweven de ochtendlucht met hun aroma's
de tienduizend dingen worden gevormd in harmonie

stijl zwart haar tot aan hun middel fijn als zijde, soepel
als onze gedachten op een lentebriesje, zoeken ze Duyên


de voorbestemde band van liefde die vele incarnaties duurt,
onvermijdelijk vinden de geliefden elkaar in het westelijke paradijs

 

the whitewash fragrance of flowers

lipstick dry, powder faded, please tell the flower girls
not to step on the grave of Hô Xuân Huong, spring

blossoms ribbon the morning air with their aromas, all
the myriad things are shaped in harmony, a main of

straight black hair spilling down to her waist, fine as
silk, supple as thoughts on a spring breeze, they seek

Duyên, the predestined bond of love that lasts many incarnations
before, inevitably, the lovers meet in the western paradise

 

妆点花香 (现代)


朱红淡去,妆粉褪色,花一样的女孩,

还请您不要在胡春香的墓前徘徊。

 

春天的花蕾在晨风中摇曳出满满的香气,

世间万物都在此时和合归一。

 

如同丝般的黑色直发垂于腰际,

亦如同春风的低语,每个人都在追寻同一件事——缘。

 

是那前世注定的爱,百转千回,

让有情人终究能在极乐世界相见。

 

妆点花香(古文)

 

胭脂凝,铅华尽,春香墓前芳意淡,采花女儿莫上前。

青阳晓风,万物和合,垂腰云鬓,芬馥漫漫。

寻缘,不辞辗转世间,与君际会极乐天。


(translation in traditional Chinese style)

 

voorjaar in het boudoir

waar beginnen onze verhalen en eindigen andere
jij, ik, één geen twee, geen verschil, geen was, alleen is

in schilderij en herinnering leven we in gescheiden werelden
tussen ons slechts de potlood-dikke lijn van onze intenties


verwonderd over zoveel spirituele veerkracht rest ons
alleen de poëzie, zelfs op deze zachte lenteavond

blijft de poort van grote synthese gesloten en weerspiegelt
de vijver van hemelse helderheid slechts de wolken

 

spring afternoon in a boudoir

where do our stories begin and others end, you
me, one not two, no difference, no was, only is

in painting and memory, we live in separate worlds
between us only the pencil thick line of our intentions

marvelling at spiritual resilience only our poetry
lasts, even in this gentle spring afternoon

the gate of great synthesis remains closed and
the pond of heavenly clarity reflects merely clouds

 

春日下午的闺房 (现代)

 

你与我,没有分离,没有差别,没有从前,只有此情此景

——在画上,在回忆里,让我们的故事周而复始。

铅笔绘出我们脑海中的粗线,惊叹着,我们是如此的不一样。

我们来自不同的世界,唯有小诗留存的世界。

即便是在这样和煦的春日下午,

造物之门也紧紧关闭,只有清澈的天池,映出那形单影只的云。

 

春未闺阁 (古文)


无二无别无往昔,此情此景画中期。

丹青描乱心中念,墨迹慨叹别无依。

春日未,暖阳熙,诗意永存莫言机。

洪荒之门空严蔽,清冽小池映云稀。

(translation in traditional Chinese style)

 

bedtijd poppenspel

in een lelieblanke idylle, half gesluierd, nemen haar
ondoorgrondelijke ogen me op, achter een waterval

van haar blijven haar mijmeringen onkenbaar
voor mij, woorden als bloemen poederen de wind met hun geheimen

het zijn vrouwen van dezelfde oogst ze kennen dezelfde pijn
dezelfde vreugde en alle onzelfzuchtigheid die nodig is

vanuit mijn anonimiteit glimlach ik naar hen, een druppel inkt
in deze smaragdgroene uitgestrektheid, lente komt en lente gaat

 

bedtime puppetry

in a lily-white idyll she inspects me with her inscrutable
eyes half-curtained behind the cascade of falling hair

her musing unknowable to me, spring words
like flowers powder the wind with her secrets

they are women of the same harvest they know pain and
they know joy and all the selflessness that was required

from my anonymity I smile at them, a drop of ink
in this emerald vastness, spring passes spring returns

 

睡前木偶戏

 

百合色的田园牧歌中,

她看着我,

如瀑的秀发,半遮着——

神秘的眼睛。

 

她的思虑,是我无法触及的未知,

泉水般的语言,

像随风而纷飞的花瓣,

承载着她的秘密。

 

她们是丰收的女神,

她们知晓痛苦与欢愉,

深谙那背后的私心。

 

一个无名的我,

朝着她们微笑,

像那无边的翠色中,晕开的一滴墨水,

随着春去春回。

 

epiloog


volgens de natuur is leven lenen en sterven
teruggeven, dit is de essentie van de

eeuwige Lente, een voor een kan alleen de boot
van mededogen ons naar de andere oever brengen,

in de parelglans van de volle maan is intimiteit het
kruid van de liefde, vertrouwen haar water en mest


spelend met de rozenknoppen van onze
mala wachten we tot het gras licht geeft

 

epilogue


according to nature to live is to borrow to
die is to give back, the essence of the Golden

Spring beyond, one by one only the boat of
compassion can bring us to the other shore,

in the pearl luster of the full moon, intimacy is the
herb that seasons love, trust her water and fertiliser

playing with the rosebuds of our mala
we wait for the grass to give light

 

终曲

 

自然运行着它的金则:

生即是借,死即为还。

 

春在远方,

慈悲的渡船,

一一载我们抵达彼岸。

 

满月的珍珠华晕下,

亲密,是四季宠爱的芳草,

润以甘露,养以脂膏。

 

拨转那念珠间的玫瑰花蕾,

我们静静等待,

春草的第一缕清辉。

 

 

glossary:

betel chewing
chewing a piece of areca palm nut and a leaf of the betel tree, smeared with lime past, the effect is mildly stimulating and narcotic

lustful monk
the title of one of Hô Xuân Huong’s poems

fortune scrolls
scrolled up piece of paper revealing the fortune of its owner

fishes and spiders
signs of good luck coming

samsara
is the beginning-less cycle of repeated birth, mundane existence and dying again

red dust
or worldly dust, refers to the perishable world or samsara

five realms
Buddhist cosmology typically identifies six realms of rebirth and existence: gods, demi-gods, humans, animals, hungry ghosts and hells. Earlier Buddhist texts refer to five realms rather than six realms; when described as five realms, the god realm and demi-god realm constitute a single realm.

my dragons come here to die
the dragon is a symbolic creature, weather good or bad, in the folklore and mythology all around the world, at some point in our thinking we must overcome good and bad

form eats emptiness, space swallows form
is a play with the Heart Sutra, like form is emptiness, emptiness is form and emptiness is not form, form is not emptiness

around coin with square hole
old style coins were pierced with a square hole

áo dài
the áo dài is a Vietnamese traditional clothing, commonly worn by women, in its current form it is a long tight-fitting silk tunic worn over trousers. Áo translates as shirt. Dài means "long".

long zither
or guzheng (古箏), also known as the Chinese zither, is a Chinese plucked string instrument with a more than 2,500-year history. It has 16 (or more) strings and movable bridges, the modern guzheng usually has 21 strings, the guzheng is ancestral to several other Asian zithers, such as the Vietnamese đàn tranh, the guzheng should not be confused with the guqin, another ancient Chinese zither but without moveable bridges

pear-shaped lute
or pipa (琵琶) is a four-stringed Chinese musical instrument, belonging to the plucked category of instruments, sometimes called the Chinese lute, the instrument has a pear-shaped wooden body with a varying number of frets ranging from 12 to 26, the pipa is one of the most popular Chinese instruments and has been played for almost two thousand years in China, several related instruments in East and Southeast Asia are derived from the pipa; these include the Vietnamese đàn tỳ bà

đàn tranh
see long zither

speaking in six musical tones
in the Vietnamese language a word can hold six separate meanings depending on the tone, this way poetry and song are very close, but also a whole world of double meanings enter the play of poetry

tell the flower girls not to step on the grave of Hô Xuân Huong
referring to the lines of a famous poem written after Hô Xuân Huong death:

( … )
Tell the flower girls to pick some,
Not stepping on Hô Xuân Huong’s grave.
( … )

duyên
when a man and a woman have duyên, it not only means that they are right for each other, but that their love is actually fated, inevitable

western paradise
the Western Paradise (or Sukhāvatī) refers to the western pure land of Amitabha Buddha

the gate of great synthesis and the pond of heavenly clarity
can be found in Hanoi inside the Văn Miếu – Quốc Tử Giám or the Temple of Literature, the oldest university of Hanoi

compassion
compassion involves allowing ourselves to be moved by suffering and experiencing the motivation to help alleviate and prevent it, an act of compassion is defined by its helpfulness, the Dalai Lama has said, "If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion”

the boat of compassion
refers to the notion that only by practicing compassion we can travel to the other side or the western paradise

bring us to the other shore
is also a play with the Heart Sutra ‘the Insight that Brings Us to the Other Shore’ refers to the practise of compassion

wait for the grass to give light
the Vietnamese bodhisattva vow is ‘to refuse nirvana until even the grass is enlightened’

 

The beautiful Chinese translations are done by different translators:

prologue / spring festival by Yuhan (
玉函), in a musical garden by Qiqi Lu (鲁奇琦) the whitewash fragrance of flowers / spring afternoon in a boudoir by Ying Ma (麻莹) and bedtime puppetry / epilogue by Yipu Wei (魏一璞)