Oh Well

Some time in high school my dear friend Jade introduced me to e.e. cummings’ Since Feeling is First.  Since then, it’s become my all time favorite poem, words can’t describe how much I love it, mostly because I don’t know why.  I’ve always wanted to do a version of it in Chinese, but had not been proficient enough, and more to the point had forgotten about it until recently.  I did remember recently though, and was thinking about trying my hand at translating the work some time while I’m here in Xi’an.

Unfortunately, I found out it’s already been done by an actual Chinese person far better than I could ever hope to do.  But on the plus side it was a really good read!  I thought I’d share it with you below along with a back translation of the Chinese.  Perhaps I’ll try my hand at some Chinese poetry before my time here is done.

cummings’ Original:
since feeling is first 
who pays any attention 
to the syntax of things 
will never wholly kiss you;
wholly to be a fool 
while Spring is in the world
my blood approves, 
and kisses are a far better fate 
than wisdom 
lady i swear by all flowers. Don’t cry 
–the best gesture of my brain is less than 
your eyelids’ flutter which says
we are for eachother: then 
laugh, leaning back in my arms 
for life’s not a paragraph
and death i think is no parenthesis
Literal Chinese back translation:
since feeling is supreme
whoever approaches cautiously
the order of things
will never kiss you with their heart
while spring is in the world
there’s no harm in being a complete fool
my blood praises:
compared with wisdom
kisses are a better ending (fate)
miss, i swear by 10,000 flowers. don’t cry
—the best state of my mind, still does not match
the confession of your eyelids’ flutter
we’re a heaven-made match: laugh,
lay down in my embrace
for life is not a paragraph
and for me, death is even less of a parenthesis
Original Chinese:
既然情至上
谁对事物的形式
小心翼翼
谁就永远不会用心吻你

当春尚在人间
不妨做个完完全全的傻瓜

我的热血赞成:
相比智慧
亲吻是更好的结局
女士,我以万花起誓。别哭
— 我大脑的最佳状态,还不及
你眼睫忽闪的倾诉

我们是天作之合: 那就
笑吧,倒在我的怀抱
因生命不是一节段落

而对我,死亡亦非括弧

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