7/15/15 Lyrical Translations

Posted on in Loose Marbles

Scattering Light, Scattering Flowers (Japanese)

Traveling priest – waki:
Coming through the clouds, coming across the seas and over the mountains, I live night after night on a journey with the grass as my pillow.
I am a traveling Buddhist monk. This evening again, I come for temporary lodging in the moonlight at this deserted, ruined castle.
How wondrous! I sense a human presence in the castle.
Who is it? Sir, are you a local, do you live around here?

Old man – shiteas mae-jite:
Certainly. I am the caretaker of this castle.
Invited by the moonlight, I came here to visit a priest who has traveled from afar to tell him a story of the old days. Look! The man appears!
Long ago, the lord of this castle was an elegant asthete who recreated a gorgeous seashore landscape inside his castle. Oh, how dear are my old days!

(The old man returns to the image of when he was young and alive.)

Lord Toru, a young prince transformed from an old man – shite, as nochi-jite:
From the abyss to the heavenly body, the minds of lives are deeply linked with each other.
The celestial palace reflects on the sea. How delightful it is to dance in the moonlight!
Birds nest in the trees on the beach and fish sleep on the moonlit waves.

The fish lie at the bottom of the sea, unified in the depths from which they regard the moon.
Their eyes reflect the image of the Moon Prince, whose name will be heard throughout the distant future.

(Haya-mai: rapid dance)

Toru and chorus/narrator(s):
Clouds are my sleeves on which the snow falls around me.
Dancing a dance and the dance makes me dance in this autumn night.
I look all around and find the clear moon.
Scattering its light like flower petals down onto the world, my heart is purified with the sea breeze while I am dancing a dance and the dance makes me dance, dancing between life and death.

Dancing between the abyss and the heavenly body.
Yet, the moon still stays high above heaven and the water still stays deep in the sea.

Moonlight moves along the dancer’s sleeves.
When the dawn has already come with clouds and rain.
Oh, what a dear image of him dancing! What a dear image of him dancing!
He’s dancing a dance and the dance makes him dance…

(English translation: Mika Kimula and Marty Regan)


Traeume (Dreams) (German)

Say, what wondrous dreams
keep my soul captive,
that have not dissolved like empty foam
into drear oblivion?

Dreams, which every hour
and every day bloom more beautiful,
and with their heavenly tidings
blissfully pervade my mind?

Dreams, which like sublime light
penetrate my soul
to paint there an eternal image:
forgetting all, remembering one!

Dreams, like the spring sun
kissing the flowers from the snow —
to a welcome of undreamed-of joys
from the new day,

to grow, to bloom,
to impart their scent as they dream,
fading softly at your breast
to then sink into the grave.


Le citta sottili (The Invisible Cities) (Italian)

If you wish to believe me, all right. I will now tell you about Ottavia: spiderweb-city. There is a pass between two steep mountains: the city hangs above the emptiness, tied to the two peaks with cables and chains and foot-bridges. You walk over the wooden-cross laths and make sure you don’t put your feet between them, or you catch hold of the meshes of a hemp-net. Under it are hundreds and hundreds of yards of nothing: a single cloud passes; deeper you see the bottom of the pass. This is the basis of the town: a net from one end of the pass to the other end that acts as a support. Nothing stands on it, but hangs under it: rope-ladders, hammocks, houses in the shape of a bag, hallstands, terraces like ships, waterbags, gasjets, roasting spits, baskets on cables, freight elevators, showers, trapezes and rings, cablecars, lamps, hanging pots with plants. Hanging above the deep pass the life of the inhabitants of Ottavia is less unsure than the life in other cities. They know the net can only bear so much weight and no more.