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Oriental Lyrics

Selected and edited by M. Divjak


Contents

    Japanese Haiku, mostly by Issa
    Chinese Lyrics, mostly by Li Tai Po
    Indian Lyrics, mostly by Bhartrihari


Japanese Haiku

    The cherry blossoms falling,
    the minds of men
    are calm again
    (Koyu-ni / Blyth)

    World made of dew,
    just a world made of dew,
    and yet, and yet…
    (Issa / Edwards)

    Though I try not to,
    I still see, still think of
    my village, my home.
    (Issa / Edwards)

    Summer night –
    even the stars
    are whispering to each other.
    (Issa / Hass)

    Not very anxious
    to bloom,
    my plum tree.
    (issa / Hass)

    Garden by the gate,
    this is just what you wanted –
    evening rain.
    (Issa / Edwards)

    A cuckoo sings
    to me, to the mountain,
    to me, to the mountain.
    (Issa / Hass)

    The pheasant cries
    as if it just noticed
    the mountain.
    (Issa / Hass)

    The woodpecker
    carefully estimates
    my house's value.
    (Issa / Edwards)

    Come an play with me;
    we are both alone,
    you motherless sparrow.
    (Issa / Edwards)

    Though life rushes by,
    even the tiniest bird
    build himself a nest.
    (Issa / Edwards)

    Only the birds
    sing heavenly music
    in this troubled world.
    (Issa / Edwards)

    A large cat
    waving its long tail just
    to tease a butterfly.
    (Issa / Edwards)

    Having slept, the cat gets up,
    yawns, goes out
    to make love.
    (Issa / Hass)

    Don't kill that fly!
    Look – it's wringing its hands,
    wringing its feet.
    (Issa / Hass)

    I'm going out,
    flies, so relax,
    make love.
    (Issa / Hass)

    A huge frog and I,
    staring at each other,
    neither of us moves.
    (Issa / Hass)

    Mosquito at my ear –
    does it think
    I'm deaf?
    (Issa / Hass)

    When chased out 
    of every other place,
    come here, mosquitoes.
    (Issa / Edwards)

    Clouds of moskitoes –
    if it weren't for them
    I would be lonely.
    (Issa / Edwards)

    Even with insects –
    some can sing,
    some can't.
    (Issa / Hass)

    An insect on a branch
    swept away down the river
    still singing his song.
    (Issa / Edwards)

    The red dragonfly –
    in some way or another
    he likes evening too.
    (Issa / Edwards)

    For you fleas too
    the nights must be long,
    they must be lonely.
    (Issa / Hass)

    At night in my hut,
    will all you jumping fleas
    make a bit less noise?
    (Issa / Edwards)

    Don't worry, spiders,
    I keep house
    casually.
    (Issa / Hass)

    A red morning sky –
    does it make you happy,
    snail?
    (Issa / Edwards)

    Hold on, thin frog!
    You're not beaten yet!
    Issa is with you!
    (Issa / Edwards)

    Napping at midday
    I hear the song of rice planters
    and feel ashamed of myself.
    (Issa / Hass)

    Napped half the day;
    no one
    punished me!
    (Issa / Hass)

    Visiting the graves,
    the old dog
    leads the way.
    (Issa / Hass)

    What a strange thing!
    to be alive
    beneath cherry blossoms.
    Issa / Hass)

    Just my being here –
    it is just my being here,
    and the falling snow.
    (Issa / Edwards)

    Lovely winds blow
    through the large summer room,
    not enough, we complain.
    (Issa / Edwards)

    Each morning farmers
    stare greedily at their fields.
    Each loves just his own.
    (Issa / Edwards)

    Her children are asleep.
    Now mother can wash their clothes
    under the summer moon.
    (Issa / Edwards)

    The snow is melting
    and the village is flooded
    with children.
    (Issa / Hass)

    Windy fall –
    these are the scarlet flowers
    she liked to pick.
    (Issa / Hass)

    By herself at home
    my wife is surely staring,
    as I am, at the moon.
    (Issa / Edwards)

    Only in a dream –
    my daughter takes a melon
    and touches it to her cheek.
    (Issa / Edwards)

    Without you, truly,     
    too many and too wide     
    are the dark forests.  
    (Issa / Edwards)

    In this world of ours
    as we cross the roof of hell,
    let's search for flowers.
    (Issa / Edwards)

    Pine tree I planted –
    see how old it is
    this automn evening.
    (Issa / Edwards)
   
    A bath when you're born,
    a bath when you die,
    how stupid.
    (Issa / Hass)

    Ask the grasshopper
    to be keeper of my grave
    after I have gone.
    (Issa / Edwards)


Chinese Lyrics


  × Počitek na gori

    Razgubile so se že meglice,
    odletele so čez gaje ptice.

    Le King-Tinga mirni vrh in jaz
    zreva drug si drugemu v obraz.
    (Li Tai Po / Gradnik)


  × Vprašanje

    Ko blisk življenje naše zagori
    in traja le, dokler ga uzro oči.

    Neba in zemlje večen je obraz
    in ne spreminja ga beže'ci čas.

    Sreča – nesreča: ni usodi mar,
    kaj nam v menjavi časa je njen dar.

    Polna je čaša vina pred teboj.
    Kaj vendar čakaš? Izpij napoj!
    (Li Tai Po / Gradnik)


  × Nevesta na stolpu

    Rumeno listje brda že pokriva.
    S stolpa ozira se nevesta mlada.
    Nebo zagrinja oblakov jata siva,
    jesenska slana že na polje pada.

    Tatarjev vojska zbira se v planjavi,
    na konju dirja sel, z bojišča črne
    vesti prinašajoč. Kdaj pa se vrne
    njen gospodar, kdaj jo doma pozdravi?

    Ah, ko konča se vojna ta nemila,
    lepota nje bo in mladost minila.
    (Li Tai Po / Gradnik)


  × Večna pesem

    Ko pišem pesem, skozi okno zrem,
    kako se v vetru šibki bambus maja,
    razgiban kakor morja val, ko vstaja

    vihar in žene vode tja in sem.
    Grmičevje šumi in mirijada
    jutranje rose kapljic z listov pada.

    Ko rišem črke k črkam na papir,
    se zde, da so ko cveti breskve v bregu
    vsenaokrog raztreseni po snegu.

    Duh mandarin ne traja venomer
    in razpuhti, če žena ga nosila
    predolgo že je v gubah oblačila.

    Če sonce srež obsije, bo skopnel.
    Le, kar na list zdaj pišem, tale spev
    bo večen, večen bo njegov odmev.
    (Li Tai Po / Gradnik)


  × Paviljon iz porcelana

    Tam stoji, na sredi ribnika,
    paviljon prelep iz belega
    in zelenkastega porcelana.

    Kakor tigra pisani hrbet
    boči most se iz kamnitih gred
    k paviljonu, kjer družina zbrana

    pri penečem vinu se šopiri
    v pražnih haljah; pijejo, pojo
    in se živo pomenkujejo.

    Drobne pesmi pišejo nekteri
    in rokavi jim nazaj polze,
    v tilniku čepe jim čepice.

    A na ribnika gladini, vse:
    – most in paviljon in v njem ljudje –
    se zrcali v čudežni pojavi.

    Most se zdi narobe ščipa lok
    in prijateljev živahni krog
    pije in kramlja, stoječ na glavi.
    (Li Tai Po / Gradnik)


  × Beli oblaki

    Čez gore Cu, čez gore Cin,
    hite oblaki beli,
    oblaki beli vrh planin
    so me v naročje vzeli.

    In kamor krene moj korak,
    oblaki beli z mano
    hite in kot prijatelj drag
    so z mano neprestano.

    Na trate se zvečer spuste
    in na zeleni travi
    počivajo z menoj do dne,
    dokler nas zor pozdravi.
    (Li Tai Po / Gradnik)


  × Trije pajdaši

    V cvetočem vrtu sam sedim pri vinu.
    Zakaj bi sam se dolgočasil? Hoj!
    Kaj ni nikogar, da bi pil  menoj?
    Pa pride mesec: Tu sem, bratec, zdravo!
    Za njim še tretji: moja senca. Bravo!
    O senca, mesec, vražja mi pajdaša,
    kaj vaju nič ne miče moja čaša?
    Ta moja senca ziblje se kot jaz,
    prečudno bled je meseca obraz.
    Pozdravljena mi, dobrodošla druga!
    Hoj, pijmo! Naj gre rakom žvižgat tuga!

    Zapojem – mesec me smeje posluša.
    Zaplešem – senca maje se z menoj.
    Hohoj! moj mesec, senca, ljuba duša,
    bodita zvesta mi, o, vsaj nocoj,
    vsaj dokler je še v moji glavi mir.
    Potem pa, ko bo v nji že vse šumelo,
    potem, ob zori, vzamemo slovo.
    Pa ne za dolgo – jutri na večer
    na svidenje! Spet se bo vse začelo
    od kraja: hojla, hojlaridijo!
    (Li Tai Po / Gradnik)


  × Cesar

    Na svojem tronu iz zlata sedi
    nebeški sin bleščeč ves v bisernini,
    krog njega pa čepijo mandarini.

    Žari kot sonce zlato med zvezdami,
    ko mandarini resne z njim stvari
    razpravljajo in mahajo z rokami.

    Njegove misli pa so vse drugam
    odplule: tamle, v sredi svoje ute
    iz porcelana, čaka cesarica.

    Kot čudežno razcvetena cvetlica
    med nežnim listjem, dolge že minute
    nanj čaka, v vencu mladih dvornih dam.

    Predolgo zdi se ji, da se mudi
    njen dragi v zboru; nepotrpežljivo
    s pahljačo mahne in zapre oči.

    Vonjav presladkih dih zaveje v lice
    cesarjevo kot mehke perutnice
    in, nepokojen ves, začuti živo:

    da mu prelepa žena je v pozdrav
    poslala s svojih ustnic slaj dišav …
    In z roko migne in se dvigne v tronu.

    In mirno odkoraka k paviljonu,
    ki se blešči ves v beli mesečini.
    Začudeni strmijo mandarini.
    (Tu Fu / Gradnik)


  × Mraz

    Veter veje, pada, pada sneg,
    zmrznili so bambus in mastiki.
    Ah, še bolj zmrzuje brez oblek
    bedno ljudstvo – mali in veliki –
    ki po lužah bosopeto brodi
    med zaselja tesnimi prehodi.
    Ko zasuče veter ostri meč,
    ne pomaga gladki koži več
    tanko platno, puhasta tenčica.
    Na ognjiščih slama le gori
    in robida pusta, vse noči
    prečepe tako, dokler danica
    jutra ranega jim ne oznani.
    Siromaki! Ko ponižno vdani
    mraz prenašate in žejo, glad
    in vas psi pode od naših vrat,
    v volno mehko in kožuh ovit,
    v toplem domu jaz počivam sit,
    bogu kradem čas in vsa golota
    vaša, lakota in smrt, sramota
    moja so in vaših duš bolest:
    "Si še človek?" vpije v mojo vest.
    (Pe Lo Tien / Gradnik)


  × The Ho

    How say they that the Ho is wide,
    When I could ford it if I tried? 
    How say they Sung is far away,   
    When I can see it every day?     

    Yet must indeed the Ho be deep,
    When I have never dared the leap;
    And since I am content to stay,  
    Sung must indeed be far away.    
    (– / –)

     
  × Three Cups

    You've two score, three score years before you yet,
    And at the end of them your day is done.
    A thousand plans you have before you set;  
    Is it worth while to weary over one?    

    Now, when the gods have made an idle day,
    Take it, and let the idle hours go by;
    And when the gods three cups before you lay,
    Lift them, and drain them dry.
    (– / –)


  × The Parrot

    The parrot sits
    Upon his perch,
    Wrapped in gloomy thought,
    And dreams
    Of his distant home.
    His wings of brightest blue
    Are clipped;
    From his red beak
    Come words of wisdom.
    Will they never, never
    Unlatch his cage,
    And set him free once more?
    Impatient, in anger,
    He claws and tears at his perch,
    To which he has clung
    So long.
    Will the world of men
    Not pity him,
    And the freedom he has lost?
    Of what use to him in prison
    Is his coat of wondrous hue?
    (Tu Fu)


  × The Fireflies

    At Wu Shan, of an autumn night,
    The fireflies come flitting
    Through the curtains
    Into my room,
    And flutter on my garments.
    So warm they seem
    That my lute and book
    Are chill to my touch
    In the dark.
    They settle on the walls and eaves,
    And my room is agleam as if with stars.
    They circle round the courtyard,
    And, in clusters,
    Cling to the old stone well-curb.
    They enter the flowers
    And make of each a tiny, glowing jewel.
    I stand, an old, white-haired man,
    By the broad Yang Tze,
    And watch you, little fireflies,
    And wonder if, when next year comes,
    I shall be here to greet you.
    (Tu Fu)         


Indian Lyrics

  × She needeth no instruction in the art
    Of using woman's wiles to win man's heart:
    The lily's scarlet stamens grew untaught,
    The bee came freely, wishing to be caught.
    (Bhartrihari / Brough)


  × In former days we'd both agree
    That you were me, and I was you.
    What has now happened to us two,
    That you are you, and I am me?
    (Bhartrihari / Brough)


  × Love goes a-fishing with the rod Desire,
    Baiting his hook with Woman for delight.
    Attracted by the flesh, the men-fish bite.
    He hauls them in and cooks them in his fire.
    (Bhartrihari / Brough)


  × You are pale, friend moon, and do not sleep at night,
    And day by day you waste away.
    Can it be that you also
    Think only of her, as I do?
    (– / Brough)


  × The moon tries every month in vain
    To paint a picture of your face;
    And, having failed to catch its grace,
    Destroys the work, and starts again.
    (– / Brough)


  × All men alike have suffered theft:
    If a man sees her, she will steal his heart;
    Yet, if he sees her not, what has he left
    Worth looking at?
    (– / Brough)


  × Although I have a lamp, and fire,
    Stars, moon, and sun to give me light,
    Unless I look into her eyes,
    All is black night.
    (Bhartrihari / Brough)


  × Where are you going in the dead of night?
    'To meet my lover who is life and death to me.'
    And are you not afraid to walk alone?
    'How can I be alone? Love keeps me company.'
    (Amaru / Brough)


  × Dearest, if you will love me true,
    What use are joys of heaven to me?
    But if you will not love me true,
    What use are joys of heaven to me?
    (– / Brough)


  × When you're away,
    A day's a year;
    But when you're here,
    A year's a day.
    (– / Brough)


  × The day is surely better than the night?
    Or is the night not better than the day?
    How can I tell? But this I know is right:
    Both are worth nothing when my love's away.
    (Amaru / Brough)


  × To be apart
    From you, sweetheart,
    May yet be best.
    One thing I see
    When you're with me,
    A single face:
    From all things – one.
    When you are gone,
    I see your grace
    In all the rest.
    (– / Brough)


  × She who is always in my thoughts prefers
    Another man, and does not think of me.
    Yet he seeks for another's love, not hers;
    And some poor girl is grieving for my sake.
    Why then, the devil take
    Both her and him; and love; and her; and me.
    (Bhartrihari / Brough)


  × Now surely it is hardly fair
    To blame the lotus in your hair.
    Dear pretty one, do you not see?
    Your own sweet fragrance has bewitched the bee.
    (– / Brough)


  × She fainted when she heard him say
    That he must go abroad; and then,
    Reviving, said, 'You're back again!
    My love, you've been so long away.'
    (– / Brough)


  × She neither turned away, nor yet began
    To speak harsh words, nor did she bar the door;
    But looked at him who was her love before
    As if he were an ordinary man.
    (Amaru / Brough)


  × The moon knows by how much her beauty fails,
    Weighed against yours, to bring the balance even.
    Look! In a vain attempt to turn the scales
    She adds as makeweights all the stars of heaven.
    (Murari / Brough)


  × When the fever is caused by her looks and her voice,
    The treatment of choice
    Is a thrice-daily sip
    Of her honey-sweet lip.
    To avoid further harm,
    And to keep the heart warm,
    This follow-up treatment is known to be best:
    The soothing and gentle warm touch of her breast.
    (– / Brough)


  × Dear Lotus-eyes, if in your heart alone
    Anger now reigns, a lover, to enslave you,
    What can I do? – But give me back my own,
    The kisses, the embraces I once gave you.
    (Amaru / Brough)


  × When we have loved, my love,
    Panting and pale from love,
    Then from your cheeks, my love,
    Scent of the sweat I love:
    And when our bodies love
    Now to relax in love
    After the stress of love,
    Ever still more I love
    Our mingled breath of love.
    (– / Brough)


  × Blow, wind, to where my loved one is,
    Touch her, and come and touch me soon:
    I'll feel her gentle touch through you,
    And meet her beauty in the moon.
    These things are much for one who loves –
    A man can live by them alone –
    That she and I breathe the same air,
    And that the earth we tread is one.
    (Ramayana / Brough)


  × 'Do not go', I could say; but this is inauspicious.
    'All right, go' is a loveless thing to say.
    'Stay with me' is imperious. 'Do as you wish' suggests
    Cold indifference. And if I say 'I'll dye
    When you're gone', you might or might not believe me.
    Teach me, my husband, what I ought to say
    When you go away.
    (– / Brough)


  × Although my mind
    Is sick with love, I find
    I have acquired the gift of magic sight.
    Though she is far away, and it is night,
    I see her in a foreign land
    From where I stand.
    (– / Brough)


  × If the forest of her hair
    Calls you to explore the land,
    And her breasts, those mountains fair,
    Tempt that mountaineer, your hand –
    Stop! before it is too late:
    Love, the brigand, lies in wait.
    (Bhartrihari / Brough)


  × In this vain fleeting universe, a man
    Of wisdom has two courses: first, he can
    Direct his time to pray, to save his soul,
    And wallow in religion's nectar-bowl;
    But, if he cannot, it is surely best
    To touch and hold a lovely women's breast,
    And to caress her warm round hips, and thighs,
    And to possess that which between them lies.
    (Bhartrihari / Brough)


  × Slender at first, then quickly gather force,
    Growing in richness as they run their course;
    Once started, they do not turn back again:
    Rivers, and years, and friendship with good men.
    (– / Brough)
    

  × For one short act, a child; next act, a boy
    In love; then poor; a short act to enjoy
    Status and wealth: till in the last act, Man,
    Painted with wrinkles, body bent with age,
    Ending the comedy which birth began,
    Withdraws behind the curtain of life's stage.
    (Bhartrihati / Brough)


  × The pleasant city and its mighty king,
    The tributary princes at his side,
    The learned men that were the kingdom's pride,
    The minstrels with a ready song to sing,
    The gracious ladies of the court, the ring
    Of haughty nobles, arrogant of birth,
    Are conquered by the Lord of all the earth,
    Time, who makes memories of everything.
    (Bhartrihari / Brough)


  × The great automnal clouds pour rain
    And cool the fever of our summer pain.
    Do great lords gather riches, then,
    To ease the suffering of their fellow-men?
    (– / Brough)


  × At set of sun
    Sleep closes up the eyes. But why,
    When wealth is gone,
    Does man, with equal ease, not die?
    (– / Brough)


  × The sun and moon, for all their light,
    Have little reason to be proud,
    When he by day, and she by night
    Share the same ragged patch of cloud.
    (– / Brough)


  × Rags are enough for me, silk pleases you:
    A difference undifferentiated.
    A man is poor till his desires are sated.
    Who is reach, who poor, between us two?
    (Bhartrihari / Brough)


  × Our mind is but a lump of clay
    That Fate, grim potter, holds
    On sorrow's wheel that rolls away,
    And, as he pleases, moulds.
    (Bhartrihari / Brough)


  × If learned critics publicly deride
    My verse, well, let them. Not for them I wrought.
    One day a man shall live to share my thought:
    For time is endless and the world is wide.
    (Bhavabhuti / Brough)

M. Divjak