This time we read WWI poetry. It was our priviledge to talk by Skype with Zarina Markova, Senior lecturer from the South-West University in Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria and an editor of BETA E-Newsletter. Zarina told us about the poetry of Dimcho Debelyanov. To learn more please check
B E T A E-N e w s l e t t e r, I s s u e 2 6 (November-December, p. 4, 65)
In the English part, by way of commemorating August 12, the Night of the Murdered Poets which took place in 1952, we considered Yiddish folk song Tsen Brider.
Tsen Brider performed by Zupfgeigenhanzel
Lyrics in Yiddish and English
About the Night of the Murdered Poets
We also digged into the earlier history of Tsen Brider. Its most dramatic part took place during World War II when it became 'a Jewish requiem' -
Jacobson, Joshua R., "Tsen Brider: a Jewish Requiem" (2000). Music Faculty Publications. Paper 7. (open access, hosted by Northeastern University)
Jacobson, Joshua R. (2000) “Tsen Brider”: A Jewish Requiem. Musical Quarterly (2000) 84 (3): 452-474 (requires subscription to The Musical Quarterly)
About Joshua R. Jacobson
About Martin Rosenberg
About Alexandr Kulisiewicz
Jewish Death Song composed by Martin Rosenberg. Performed by the Zamir Chorale of Boston, Joshua Jacobson, conducting
Alexandr Kulisiewicz sings Tsen Brider
Alexander Belyaev introduced 2 poems to the participants - a Chinese one 終南別業, Villa on Zhongnan Mountain by Wang Wei and a Japanese - いるか ( iruka), dolphin / exist? by Shuntaro Tanikawa
1. 終南別業, [Eng. - Villa on Zhongnan Mountain] by Wang Wei (701-761)
Villa on Zhongnan Mountain
A fragment drawn by calligrapher Yui Yu Zheng
Wang Wei (701-761)
Zhongnan Mountain Retreat
In the middle of my life
I was fond of the Buddhist Way;
now my life is late and I’m at home,
along the Southern Mountain.
lovely, solitary life,
superb of scenery—life’s affairs
now gone from awareness.
the water’s edge,
I sit and watch
as clouds rise up and appear.
By chance, I happen
upon an aged forest man;
we talk and laugh,
not returning—for we have time.
Another translation -
Villa on Zhongnan Mountain, by Wang Wei
In my middle years I came to much love the Way
and late made my home by South Mountain's edge.
When the mood comes upon me, I go off alone,
and have glorious moments all to myself.
I walk to the point where a stream ends,
and sitting, watch when the clouds rise.
By chance I meet old men in the woods;
we laugh and chat, no fixed time to turn home.
Wang Wei's "Villa on Zhongnan Mountain" from An Anthology of Chinese Literature, Stephen Owen, ed. and trans. (New York: W.W. Norton, 1996) p. 390.
2. いるか ( iruka), [Eng. - dolphin / exist?] by Shuntaro Tanikawa (1931 - )
The author reading dolphin
About the poem -
'The title is “いるか (iruka).” Iruka is dolphin but the word is also used as “iru” (a verb that means “exist”) and “ka” (particle to make a question sentence) in this poem. Which one do you think is meant for “dolphin” or “exist? (iru-ka)” ? He plays on the word and its ambiguity but he said that he never cared about how many “dolphins” are really in the poem. So please figure out by yourself how many word, “dolphin” you can see in the poem'.
Interview with Shuntaro Tanikawa with another 3 poems translated into English
In the English part we read 2 poems by Robert Frost: Fire and Ice and Questioning Faces.
Fire and Ice
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
The winter owl banked just in time to pass
And save herself from breaking window glass.
And her wings straining suddenly aspread
Caught color from the last of evening red
In a display of underdown and quill
To glassed-in children at the window sill.
As a follow-up, Alexander Belyaev translated these poems into Russian and wrote his commentaries to them
Some of the links we used:
Fire and Ice recited by Frost and then someone else
On Fire and Ice
A blog entry on Questioning Faces
Frost Free Library
Иосиф Бродский. Скорбь и разум (1994)
Authors: Lena Vaneyan and Alyosha Prokopyev