Jonathan Stalling’s translation of Zheng Xiaoqiong’s Poems

Four poems by Zheng Xiaoqiong 郑小琼

Zheng, born in 1980, is a migrant factory worker in China who emerged as a poet in the new century and won People’s Literature Prize in 2007.

Translated from the Chinese by Jonathan Stalling 石江山

四 月

黎明揉进了一滴铁锈的泪水中
她低头听见恍惚的声响

四月在窗外行走,荔枝林开花
紫丁香低于爱情,铁的背阴处
生锈的月亮,一个相信爱的人
举起持久而隐忍的悲伤

往事渐远,记忆斑驳
剩下炉火间的春天
照亮一张图纸上的荒凉与寂寞

这些锈消化着深处的黑暗与细节
晾在机台上时光正经过,她低矮的想法
在四月长出深绿的眺望,她看见爱躺在
疲倦的工业区厂房里,从四川到湖南
还有更为遥远的想法,它们像产品抵达
一张绿色的合格单,泪水抵达分别

黎明正在灯火明亮的工业区扇动着翅膀
她的心让一点小小的铁锈创伤,窗外
爱情的露水给四月留下一个明亮的影子
而这一切,让她像铁一样坚硬地守着
一小块在奔波中的爱,一小片将要升起的阳光

April

Daybreak was rubbed into a drop of rusted tears
She bent down as if to hear a slight sound

April walks outside the window, lychee trees are blooming
Lilac is less than love, under the shade of iron
A rusted moon, someone who believes in love
Patiently shoulders endless grief

The past gradually fades, and memory falls into disorder
What is left inside spring’s furnace
Illuminates the cold, bare blueprint

Corrosion digests the dark’s recessed details
Exposed on the machine table by time’s passing, her humble thoughts
In April grow dark green as if seen from above, her love lying
On the exhausted factory floor. From Sichuan to Hunan
And more distant places, ideas arrive like products
A single green certification slip appears with her tears

In the illuminated factory daybreak stirs its wings
A splinter of rust wounds her heart. Outside the window
Love’s dew casts a luminous shadow over April
All of this forces her, like iron, to stiffly cling to
Her sliver of rushing love, this fragment of the rising sun

草 根

暮色,扩散了,一层灰色的铁融化了七月
回到荔枝林,一片虚静……七月的飞虫
和草尖上的一滴血,侧着的红
草浅了,一棵草低下头
看见一个漫游者的脚后跟
银湖公园,遇见一株草开着朵朵紫蓝的花
月光听到它花开的声音与清香

淡淡花开的七月,留不住银湖公园湖中月光
我在深夜的湖边倾听一棵草的哭泣,它是一个
漫游者在路上经过,短暂的
消逝在暗处

一盏路灯点亮草尖和我的脚印
我们有着相同的姓名啊
——草根

青草深处,荔枝树下
我的朋友与亲人呵
在这居无定所的异乡,我跟一棵草样生长
在万物安详的暮色里,晚风吹来
吹不低下我们的头

Grass Roots
Twilight spreads, a layer of ash-gray iron melts July
Returning to lychee woods, everything is empty and silent . . . flying bugs of July
And a drop of blood pools at the tip of a grass blade, a slanting red
When short, grass stalks drop their heads
And see a drifter’s heels
In Silver Lake Park, encountering a plume of grass with purple-blue flowers
Moonlight hears the sounds of flowers, blooming and fragrant

Pale flower of July cannot hold on to the moonlight over Silver Lake Park
By the lake at midnight I listen to a blade of grass weeping, it is a
Drifter on the road, briefly
Vanishing into the dark

A street lamp illuminates grass tips and my footprints
We share the same name, oh
—Grass roots

In the depth of green grass, under the lychee trees
My friends and family
In this homeless strange land, I grow like a blade of grass
At the twilight when the universe falls silent, a night wind blows
But cannot blow down our heads

有多少爱,有多少疼,多少枚铁钉
把我钉在机台,图纸,订单,
早晨的露水,中午的血液

需要一枚铁钉,把加班,职业病
和莫名的忧伤钉起,把打工者的日子
钉在楼群,摊开一个时代的幸与不幸

有多少暗淡灯火中闪动的疲倦的影子
多少羸弱、瘦小的打工妹在麻木中的笑意
她们的爱与回忆像绿荫下苔藓,安静而脆弱

多少沉默的钉子穿越她们从容的肉体
她们年龄里流淌的善良与纯净,隔着利润,欠薪
劳动法,乡愁与一场不明所以的爱情

淡蓝色的流水线上悬垂着的卡座
一枚枚疼痛的钉子,停留的片刻
窗外,秋天正过,有人正靠着它活着

Iron Nails
How much love, how much pain, how many nails
Pin me to the machine table, blueprint, order form
Early morning dew, midday’s blood

Must have an iron nail to pin down overtime, industrial disease
And the nameless grief follows, the time of the working class
From the factory buildings unfolds an era of fortune and misery

How many exhausted shadows flash beneath the dull lamps
How many emaciated, frail young working-class women smile numbly
Their love and memory, like moss shaded by green trees, silent and vulnerable

How many soundless nails pass through their calm flesh
Their youth flows with virtue and purity, separated from profit, back pay
Labor law, homesickness, and an unknown love

The sky-blue assembly line dangles booth seats
One painful nail at a time, a momentary stop
Outside the window, autumn passes by, someone right beside it lives

歌唱

在炉火中歌唱的铁,充满着回忆的铁
它的低音或者高音,疼痛而尖锐的生活
它的方言披着春天的炉火与秋天的雨水
这烙红的光泽,让生活慢慢的磨损
熄灭,那个在炉火中坐着的年轻人
唱着歌谣,她看见落日正从炉火间
走进工业区楼群的车流间
在它宽阔的明亮中,有着我的忧伤与眺望
也有着铁绝望的哭泣
我的悲伤在落日中坚定
我的歌声像低声的流水穿过
剩下,一桶白色的希望在火光里晃动着

Singing

Inside the furnace singing iron, full of memory
It’s bass or treble, painful and piercing life
Its dialect is draped in spring’s fire and autumn’s rain
This burning brilliance gives way to life’s deterioration
Dying out, the young woman sitting by the furnace
Sings a folk song, she sees the setting sun cross the furnace
Walks into the industrial complex’s rush hour
In its engulfing glow reside my grief and prospects
Along with the iron’s frantic sobbing
My grief steadfast in the setting sun
My song passes by like the whisper of water passing through
What remains is white hope in a bucket of swaying flames

工业区

白炽灯亮着,楼房亮着,机器亮着
疲倦亮着,图纸亮着……
这是星期日的夜晚,这是八月十五的夜晚
月光亮出了一轮空白,荔枝林中
清风吹拂着体内的素白,多年沉默不语的
安静,常绿草丛里虫鸣,一城的灯火亮着
工业区里,多少方言,多少乡愁,
多少微弱与单薄置身其中,多少月光照耀
星期日的机台与图纸,而它在上升着
照着我的脸,慢慢落下来的心

多少灯在亮着,多少人正经过着
置身于工业区的灯光,往事,机台
那些不能言语的月光,灯光以及我
多少渺小,小如零件片,灯丝
用微弱的身体温暖着工业区的繁华与喧哗
而我们有过的泪水,喜悦,疼痛
那些辉煌或者卑微的念头,灵魂
被月光照耀,收藏,又将被它带远
消隐在无人注意的光线间

Industrial Zones
Incandescent lamps burn bright, buildings burn bright, machines burn bright
Fatigue burns bright, blueprints burn bright . . .
This is Sunday night; this is the night of August fifteenth
The moon is a blank circle; in the lychee trees
A cool breeze sways inside the pure white body, so many wordless years
Silence, in the evergreen weeds insects cry out, the lamps of the whole city burn bright
Inside the factories, so many dialects, so much homesickness,
So many frail and skinny workers dwell there, so much moonlight falls upon
Sunday’s machines and blueprints. And now it is rising
Shining on my face. Slowly, I am loosing my heart

So many lamps are shining, so many people pass by
Place yourself inside the bright factories, memories, machines
The speechless moonlight, lamplights like me
Are so tiny, fragments of spare parts, filaments
Using their vulnerable bodies to warm the factory’s hustle and noise
And all the tears, joy, pain we have ever had
Those noble or humble ideas, spirits are
Illuminated, stored up by moonlight, and taken so far
To fade away as unnoticed rays of light

Permission to re-issue these poems online has been given by Jonathan Stalling and Chinese Literature Today. For more of Zheng Xiaoqiong’s poetry see CLT #2 and for an article by critic Zhang Qinghua on the poet’s work see CLT #1: http://www.chineseliteraturetoday.com

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About 诗东西 Poetry East West

Chinese-English bilingual magazine (will include more languages), published in Los Angeles USA, printed in Beijing China. ISSN 2159-2772

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