Zang Di (臧棣), born in Beijing in April 1964, was admitted to Chinese Department of Peking University in September 1983 and received a Ph D in Literature from Peking University in July 1997, where he has been teaching since 1996 and is currently a professor in Chinese Department and editor of the journal New Poetry Criticism. He briefly worked as a journalist for China News Agency from 1990 to 1993. He has ever won numerous poetic prizes and awards including Pearl River International Poetry Festival Award in 2007, Perfect Chinese Literature Award from Changjiang River Literature & Art in 2008, the Poet of the Year 2008 Award from Chinese Literature Media Awards, etc. His many honors include one of Contemporary China’s Top Ten Prominent Young Poets (2005), 1979-2005 China’s Top Ten Avant-Courier Poets (2006), China’s Top Ten Rising Poetry Critics (2007), Contemporary China’s Top Ten Rising Poets (2007), Chinese Poetry Biennial Top Ten Poets (2008), etc. He is the author of several collections of poetry, which are Memory of Yan Yuan (1998), The Rustle of Leaves in the Wind (2000), Fresh Thorns (2002), The Universe is Flat (2008), and Empty-City Strategy (2009)。
Gateway to a Black Cat by the River
On it, there’s a pitch-black hue second only to
Christmas night of 1962 which Marilyn Monroe
didn’t live to see. On it, an array of alabaster,
though much smaller in size, second only to how
you’ve felt the snow on the peak of Muztagh Ata
make the sunlight start to prickle. It’s not just some
mere embellishment that can easily be dismissed.
The cat is real but finds it difficult to return to reality.
Like us, it resides in the outskirts of the capital
but has never been to Fragrant Hills; it has
a pungent odor which you’ll never have a chance to smell.
Between yesterday and today, the only difference is
the cat is still crouching in the dry, flaxen grass,
leaving itself exposed to an evil plan.
It experiences the passage of time as
a homing-in-on its soon-to-be prey again and again,
its patience reduced to part of winter’s game.
When the cat looks back to judge your motives,
it has the eyes of a wizard wearing a black mask.
It only appears nervous
so as not to embarrass you.
It knows you’ve seen its secret:
in its stomach lies
a magpie with undigested wings.
It knows you haven’t told anybody else yet, as though
this sort of thing can only be hinted at in poetry.
Jan 27, 2018
Translated by Kassy Lee & Zuo Fei, published by Spittoon Literary Magazine, Issue 5.
2018 年 1 月 27 日
Gateway to that Horse
Rereading Friedrich Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra
Under its thick and sweaty hide, a sharp pain
explodes in another Red Sea.
If only it were simply a brute, under the whip
it could grow numb to the ruthless beating.
Well, between you and me, what should
we call the little precious horror
that makes the boiling blood clot?
When the dark clouds of Turin
shroud the scene with a black bewilderment,
even if death were lazy, the eternal recurrence
would take the me-in-you to the edge of the abyss,
as if there were choices other than the narrow gate.
There, so determined it becomes dull and heavy,
the air has hot fragments in its mouth, as if by accident
it reveals time has had tiger teeth all along.
There, arms which tightly clasp the horse’s head held high
reach out in a gesture that shows
you have more consciousness than God.
And yet, taken as resistance, your embrace is
a storyboard of metamorphoses more naïve
than we are. Your sobs are a necklace singing,
they turn the ornaments of an unbridled madness
into a wreath of fresh flowers haloing your obscure legacy.
Sept 29, 2018
Translated by Kassy Lee & Zuo Fei, published by Spittoon Literary Magazine, Issue 5
2018 年 9 月 29 日