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Unread 07-12-2019, 10:18 AM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
Join Date: May 2007
Location: New York, NY
Posts: 4,313
Default Ruan Xi Tung (923-1019 AD)

Ruan Xi Tung (923-1019 AD)

The finest poet of the Silver Age,
Ruan Xi Tung, best known for his production
of courtly lyrics on erotic themes,
withdrew into occultism and dreams
after his exile. Late in life, a sage
above cajolery and smirking wit,
he wrote his vivid “Vision of Destruction.”
Here is the fragment that we have of it:

“I sat one morning on a mountainside
and looked out on a marsh near Lake Dongting
and saw in fog there scenes that signified
the end of man, the end of everything.

When ultimate destruction is at hand,
seven will be the omens:
seven will be the omens: First, out of the sea
a monster will arise, a prodigy
that, dead, will breed putrescence. Second, land
animals—leopards, bears—will occupy
the city of all cities, far, far north,
still to be built where man has yet to settle.
Third, a hubristic bird with wings of metal
will shriek, fall out of the indignant sky
and furrow earth with devastation. Fourth. . .”

The page is torn. What are the final four
signs of our not existing anymore?

. . . .

Prose Crib:

“In the morning I sat on a high slope and, looking out onto Lake Dongting, saw fog-signs that warned of the destruction of mankind and all his works.

When the final catastrophe is imminent, there will be seven signs:

First, a dead monster, a breeder of rot, will arise from the sea.

Second, on land, leopards and bears will make their homes in a very large city to the north, one that is yet to be constructed.

Third, an arrogant iron bird, shrieking, will fall out of an angry sky and dig a trench in the earth.

Fourth. . .”


Last edited by Aaron Poochigian; 07-16-2019 at 07:05 AM.
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Unread 07-13-2019, 10:26 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is online now
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: TX
Posts: 4,850

Hi Aaron,

This has a slightly old-fashioned feel to me - I think it's the fitting of Chinese proper names to English rhyme and meter reminding me of Kipling. I enjoyed it, especially the close.

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Unread 07-14-2019, 01:22 PM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
Join Date: May 2007
Location: New York, NY
Posts: 4,313

Thank you very much, John. I do tend to use a few "distancing" effects in translation just to make the reader feel that the work is old. I am glad they seem to be working here. I love Kipling.

Thank you,

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