Idioms Gallery
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Language Gallery by Sharon Hahn Darlin

Oct 13, 2008

錦衣玉食 luxurious lifestyle

錦 (silk) 衣 (apparel) 玉 (jade) 食 (food)

The Golden Gate Bridge constantly attracts quite a few show-offs. Sailing the San Francisco Bay last Saturday, among far less outrageously extravagant boats, was Tom Perkins' Maltese Falcon, "the longest privately owned sailboat in the world", while the blue sky was graced by a fleet of nine Canadian Snowbirds effortlessly zipping around, followed by the Blue Angels.

What do Snowbirds and Blue Angels have to do with 錦衣玉食? I am afraid I sneaked in a couple of potential MacGuffins, like Dashiell Hammett's
jewel-encrusted statuette, out of a certain reluctance to head to boring minutiae of luxury apparel and food.

Let's just say
( is king; add a dot, it's jade) in 玉食 refers to round beads, which might resemble glossy, plump, jewel-like grains.

Swathed in silk (rather, fancy synthetic fabric) this clipper yacht is born with several silver spoons in its mouth. Make that carbon fiber masts.

What's its gastronomic pleasure? It gulps huge amounts of air, but of course it does not run entirely by sails. It is a drinker, but let's be nice and call it a sipper, rather than a guzzler.

Now, the plot thickens. Will this falcon fly?

Oct 5, 2008

河流無聲* streams fall silent

*So I've decided to make this comment a full entry.
If is busy,
Here's the original translation on Facebook's PEN Poem Relay group.

"六月" ("June")
by Shi Tao (師濤)
-translation by Sharon Hahn Darlin

所有的日子 The days we own

都繞不過〈六月〉Do not surpass
六月, 我的心臟死了 June, my heart died
我的詩歌死了 My poetry died
我的戀人 My lover
也死在浪漫的血波裡 Also lay dea
d in rippling blood of romance

六月, 烈日燒開皮膚 June, scorching sun burns the skin open
露出傷口的真相 Exposes the truth in the wound
六月, 魚兒離開血紅的海水 June, young fish part the blood-red seawater
游向另一處冬眠之地 Migrate towa
rd another hibernating place
六月, 大地變形, 河流無聲 June, the great earth transforms, streams fall silent
成堆的信劄已無法送到死者手中 Heaps of letters cannot be delivered to the hands of the dead


河 (river) 流 (flow) 無 (nothing) 聲 (sound)

The simplified character for (nothing) =
The simplified character for (sound) =

Oct 3, 2008

响起春雷* reverberation / Of thunder of spring

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶/温家宝) happens to be a poet. (How cool is that?) Contrast Wen's optimistic use of 响起春雷 with;Prison and palace and reverberation
Of thunder of spring
over distant mountains

-- T. S. Eliot, The Waste Land (from "What the Thunder Said")
Unlike The Waste Land, this poem by the Chinese Premier is filled with earnest hope. I couldn't find a good translation, so this woefully inadequate version was done by yours truly.

I look up at the starry sky, it is vast and profound;

Its infinite truth compels my relentless search, pursuit.

I look up at the starry sky, it is dignified and blessed;

Such awe-inspiring justice, I'm filled with fervent love, with reverence.

I look up at the starry sky, it's so free, so tranquil;

Its immense bosom allows my spirit to nestle in repose.

I look up at the starry sky, it is magnificent, brilliant;


Its eternal radiance allows a blaze of hope in my heart, reverberation of spring thunder.