I wrote the above haiku/senryu about a year ago. The nation is still in chaos: economic, political and religious. The 90’s plus leader refuses to step down as promised. The public thought without him, it would not be possible to topple the old regime. It might be true, though I am uncertain about it. It’s easy to invite a fox inside the house, but hard to evict him. The new regime arrested many corrupted politicians, especially the previous prime minister, but the new team were as tarnished in other ways, including economic crime. A year has passed, the nation has yet to move ahead. Instead it has bogged down into ugly racial discrimination and religious controversies. The pre-election promises fail to deliver. Citizens, across race and religious divide, feel nothing positive has been done to improve their livelihood. Vision 2020 is just mere slogan. The nation is retrogressing, not progressing. The leaders are incapable to face a new changing world. There is widespread despair. The bubbles burst with the blowing; the rainbows in the shine disappear fast. The citizens hope is buried in every election, for no real change eve happen. The leeches are forever sucking the monetary blood flow; these leaders double talk well, but unable to deliver.
Woke up in the morning, attune to the
chirping of birds outside the window. Their cheerful presence in a clear blue
sky announces that the haze has cleared to healthy level. There are now many happy people talking and
walking under the morning sun. I hum with them and join the morning stroll along
the canal. Nature’s horizon has re-opened, together with our hearts. The breeze
caresses the body; falling leaves and flower petals pave the way. The joy was,
however, short lived.
The flame of greed was glowing and alive.
The embers were never dead in human hearts. These criminals would slash and
burn again in another season; never ending problem, for the punishment was
mild. The sky was cloudy again, not due to the haze, but impending rain. It
cleanses the air, and clears the smog. The birds return to their hiding among
Nature has its own way to renew and refreshes itself, in spite of human callousness. Humans need to take care and be responsible on our part as individual. The miseries are created by our own greed and irresponsibility. We are unaware that the short gain will bring misery or loss in return. Our worries are unnecessary, as long as we are mindful that what we do have impact somewhere on somebody and they return to haunt us as individual or group.
I shall be away for holiday for about three weeks.
This is translating my English translation back into
Chinese. Of course, it is no longer the same, irrespective on how good you are
in both languages. All translations are interpretation of translator
understanding of the text. I am always cautious whenever I read religious or
classical texts. I prefer to read in the original language written, but often my
command of both old Chinese or old English might not be at par. Hence some
cross checking if I wish to go into the details, if time permits. I hope readers
would simply enjoy the fun of it. “Aweful” in English means bad, or great,
depending on context. The reader has the freedom to choose his own meaning.
Literally, this is an ancient poem about the beauty of clouds and hills as seen in contrast in many Chinese brush painting. It can be interpreted to describe the subtleties of power relations between nations or about dyad relate. China is symbolized as hills, and US (or other nation) as clouds. They meet and interact by unseen forces, such as the wind or sunlight. The wind blows the clouds to the hills, partially or fully engulf the peaks and slopes, and really enchanting, if both match well in the painting. Should the clouds drift away by unseen forces, the hills are gorgeous, and the clouds have their own charm. It is the contrast of shades and shapes that shows in perspective drawing. Co-operation, mutuality or co-dependency could be great or harmful, depending on each perspective. If one claims supremacy, and the other reluctant to be subdued, it is best they part, rather than causing the haze and become hazardous. We need to be careful with our steps, for no one can stay supreme all the time, if talks on freedom are meaningless to the other. We all have eyes, but we may not see eye to eye, or like the others’ eyes. We learn to accept and respect the diversity in each, for the world is neither yours, nor mine, but shared. President Trump, with a merchant’s mind, is too vain to appreciate the sceneries. The same sentiment prevails in the mind of many bigots. The monkeys are wild; they are not deers to be endeared; they destroy the grasses and flowers, both feed and beauty to nature. Nevertheless we have to be very cautious in our steps. They have all the awesome power, not to create a better world for all, but for others to feel the awe of destruction, in its own image.
This is my translation of a Yuan Dynasty poem by Zhang Yang Hao. It was written in small seal (ancient) script. This piece of Chinese calligraphy is often seen in the background of conferences, between China and foreign representatives, including US. The poetry behind politics, or the art, has escaped my attention when listening to u tube broadcast, until it is pointed out by Taiwan news commentator. I take the liberty to translate that poetry into haiku/senryu. The first two stanza was translated with ease, as the six lines match the haiku format. The Yuan poet has only four lines in the last two stanza, and it is not displayed in the background of Chinese calligraphy.
In order to
fit it in the format, I changed the order and rendered the four lines into six,
to fit the 5/7/5 syllables of haiku/senryu.
My apology if it is mistranslated, as I learned Chinese only up to primary
level, but my interest goes beyond that in my reading.
Slashing is the cutting down of forest, plantation trees and woody plants to clear the land; the downgraded vegetation is left to dry, rot and burn before the rainy season. It is a traditional, widespread but cheap way of shifting cultivation for small agricultural holders in south-east Asian region, mainly in Indonesia. With the advent of large plantation, timber owners and land developers (the international corporates), the scale becomes massive. Slash and burn is the cheapest cost effective way of clearing and deforestation, but it is irresponsible and morally wrong way to manage because such evil acts cause health hazards and impact badly on the environment and climatic change. The poor plantation management and fire control are mainly for cost saving. The intention is bad. The heat and smoke produced aggravated the drought in dry seasons (June to September); and smog is trapped in the region, due to the wind in Monsoon climatic circulation. Multi nationals owned the big corporation, and the game of blame pointed to all nations in the region, and strangely unpunished and the crime repeated over the years.
These corporations also owned hospitals and health care centers, with interest in facial masks. The residents in the affected regions are advised to wear protective masks, adding cost (including medical bills) to loss of work. We hide our face, but not the crime against public interest. The shame is hidden and, strangely forgotten, until the next season. Unless well organize, otherwise the protests are powerless for governments and putrid corporates to change. And if one owned shares in these corporations, no matter how small, one is not free from blame in getting dividends from the profits earned. The responsibility of poetry is to bring awareness to readers, and encourage them to ponder, even though the poets alone are powerless.