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[美国]梅丹理   《吉狄马加诗选》译序(英汉对照)

(2010-06-30 09:52:38)




[USA] Denis Mair

Translator’s Introduction


      When I was preparing to translate these poems by Jidi Majia, I had the good fortune to accompany him on a trip to his native district in Liangshan Yi Nationality Autonomous Prefecture, which is located in mountainous west Sichuan. In secluded Nuosu villages of Butuo and Zhaojue counties, I was struck by the attachment of the Nuosu hill people to their time-honored ways. Where old cob [i.e., clay and straw] houses had been replaced, I could see that new ones had been built according to the space-conserving pattern, with clusters of small buildings interspersed among gardens and pastures. The Nuosu women still sit in small groups in front of their houses, weaving strips of cloth on waist looms. I saw men wearing black capes of hand-woven wool similar to the ponchos of Bolivian Indians.

The Yi people, of which the Nuosu make up the most populous branch, are a mystery that is only beginning to declare itself to the world. There are at least seven million Yi, and several million of them still speak their own language, which belongs to the Tibeto-Burman language family. They live in pockets in southwest China, in the provinces of Sichuan, Guizhou, and Yunnan.

      The Nuosu have their own independent mythology and folklore. In some ways it reminds me of Tibetan and Chinese ways of thinking, but it is different. They have oral epics, for instance the Book of Origins and Zhyge AluThey have a myth of a great ancestral bird totem, which reminds me of the Tibetan garuda. They often portray the great bird in beaten silver, which also reminds me of the garuda. They have their own scriptures for sending off souls after death. The bimo (ritual priest) waves a prayer sceptre and bell through the smoke of a fire while chanting the scripture; his only incense is the smoke of this fire. Unlike the thunderbolt-shaped dorje of the Tibetans, the bimo’s prayer scepter resembles a smoke-inhaling bird. The bimo does not sit in a temple when reading his scriptures; he sits on a mat out in the open. The scriptures are written in a pictographic script which is independent from the Chinese writing system. 

If you spend any time around Nuosu villages, eventually you will see one of the bimos, wearing a toadstool-shaped hat of black felt. When a bimo is not doing ceremonies for healings or funerals, he goes off to a quiet spot at the edge of a village. You can never predict where you will happen upon a bimo reading his scripture, often with an acolyte beside him tending a small fire. The scriptures are copied out on papyrus-like material or thin sheepskin. There is another kind of priest-figure, a suni, who is a kind of shaman. He drums on a waist-mounted hoop-drum (which looks very Siberian); he dances and sings for hours in a trance; he often has matted hair going down past his waist.

       The Nuosu people have never accepted a religion from outside. In fact, their belief system has an inherent complexity: it is a tapestry of seasonal rituals, epics about divine ancestors, and stories of nature spirits. Perhaps because the Yi nationality remains an aggregate of branches, their beliefs have never fused into a dogmatic system. Their collection of beliefs provides a sense of belonging to the natural environment; it contains a rich variety of perspectives on the human condition. For these reasons it reminds me of American Indian religion.

The poet Jidi Majia is the child of an aristocratic Nuosu family. After 1949 his father held a leading position in the judiciary of Butuo County, in the Nuosu heartland. Jidi Majia came upon his calling as a poet in his early teens, when a Chinese version of Pushkin’s works came into his hands. He resolved early upon his path in life: he would articulate the identity and spiritual outlook of the Nuosu in poetry.

       At the age of 16 Jidi Majia was admitted to Southwest Nationalities College in Chengdu. During his college years his hungry mind absorbed Nuosu epics and folklore. He also read great works of Chinese literature: everything from the mythically rich ancient poetry of Qu Yuan to vernacular prose masters of the 20th Century. He also read works of world literature, such as the novels of Michail Sholokhov and Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

      After graduation he returned to his home district; his poems soon won province-wide attention when they were printed in the Sichuan journal Xingxing Before long he was hired by the Writer’s Association of Sichuan, and he rose steadily to a position as secretary of that organization. He broke onto the national stage in 1986, when he won the National Poetry Award and became a protégé of the respected older poet Ai Qing. He omnivorously read the works of world-class poets: Paz, Vallejo, Neruda, Lorca, Amichai, Seifert, Wzymborska, Senghor.

      Jidi Majia concentrated on his vocation, without seeking rewards extrinsic to the writing of poetry, yet such awards came his way when he was given a position in the office of the National Writers’ Association. He had chances to participate in conferences of writers and poets around the world; he was invited to observe the workings of the U.S. government for one month, as a guest of the U.S. Congress’ International Young Leaders’ Program. To appreciate the breadth of Jidi Majia’s activities as a cultural figure in recent years, it helps to know that he has been creative director of musical stage productions (‘Qinghai’s Secret Realm’ and ‘White Dove’) and has organized major cultural festivals (Qinghai International Poetry Festival—2007 and 2009).

      Jidi Majia has never stopped being what he always was: a great soul who emerged from among an indigenous group in southwestern China and undertook to bridge his people’s ethos with realities of the outside world. For Jidi Majia, the project of articulating his identities as a Nuosu, as a Chinese, and as a world citizen are in no way mutually exclusive.

The Nuosu are a proud people whose antecedents lie on the margins of Sinitic culture. Being a long-embedded element within the Sinitic cultural sphere, yet never having been fully absorbed by it, they represent a unique position on the continuum of Chineseness. With respect to influences across the Han-Nuosu cultural interface, they have contributed as much as they have received in music, folk art, and myth.

     The position of Jidi Majia as a Nuosu poet writing in Chinese reminds me of Irish writers who emerged on England’s literary scene in the late 19th and 20th centuries. Irish writers and poets brought a tremendous vitality to the English language. Though the Queen’s English was a borrowed language for them, they were able to make it fresh, perhaps because of Ireland’s strong oral tradition. This tradition gave them an eloquence which we sometimes describe as the ‘gift of blarney.’ Several examples spring to mind: W.B. Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, and Samuel Beckett.

       In the U.S. we also have examples of ethnic groups whose historical position as embedded outsiders lent strength to their literary expression. These include black American writers such as Langston Hughes and Ralph Ellison, as well as writers from the Jewish immigrant community such as Isaac Singer and Saul Bellow.  More recently, we have heard strong voices from the native American poet Sherman Alexie and from the ethnic Chinese immigrant Li-Young Lee.

It comes as no surprise to learn that Jidi Majia has a strong affinity for figures of America’s Harlem Renaissance. Only a great-souled poet could have succeeded in the project that Langston Hughes attempted: to revive a people’s identity, from the roots up, in a modern setting of cultural dislocation and anomie. The Harlem Renaissance figures started from a position on the margin, but their voices were eventually heard and felt by the cultural mainstream. Such was also the mission which Jidi Majia settled upon as a poet. But his affinity with the Harlem figures also lies on a more elemental, symbolic level—in the phenomenon of blackness. The most populous branch of the Yi call themselves the Nuosu, which in their language means the ‘black people.’ Their holy men wear black hats and capes. Their formal decorative scheme features a black background with red and yellow patterns. In one poem Jidi Majia writes: ‘I write poems, because it seems that the spirit of our introspective, ruminative tribe is shown outwardly in a melancholy color. For a long time this color has been harbored deeply in our souls.’ (‘One Kind of Voice’)  The color black, as a symbol of an emotional atmosphere, indicates an awareness of suffering and death; it is also the color of spiritual knowledge and depth.

      There has been conflict and suffering in the history of the Nuosu’s dealings with their Han and Tibetan neighbors. Of course, they have more often co-existed peacefully. In recent times, the timber cutting practices which scarred the Nuosu homeland were an unfortunate side-effect of modernization that was basically imposed upon them. This is part of the Nuosu burden of sadness, a loss of harmony with the environment which they feel keenly because of their attachment to traditional beliefs and values.

       Jidi Majia accepts suffering as part of the human condition: it is the underlying melancholy color on which the hopeful patterns of creative expression appear by contrast. In his poems about crises of the modern world, he denounces violence but does not seek to attach blame or exact retribution. His attitude toward suffering can be seen in his praise for the people of Chongqing: ‘…this great city/ Like its kind, generous people/ Always keeps its eyes on the future/ Never seeking to duplicate vengeance/…This city’s reflective attitude toward war/ And its longing for peace/ Is no other than what today’s China/ Gives as its answer to the world!’ (‘I Admit It, I Love This City’)

      In our post-modern context, it is no surprise that a poet of worldwide vision would emerge from a minority people in the isolated mountains of southwest China. After all, nothing could be more fantastic than what has already happened in our 20th century reality. History has shown that major civilizations produce systems of thought which trumpet certain fundamental categories as standards of truth: God, Buddha-nature, the Dao, the realm of ideal forms, the ground of Being, material forces. These are ideas which tend to deny each other or swallow each other up. In contrast to such monolithic thought systems, the cultures of indigenous peoples possess still-living myths which have room to grow. Indigenous cultures have a responsive emotional attachment to nature; they are quite observant about changes in their natural environment.

      Unfortunately, the fundamental thought-categories valued by major civilizations are dislocated from nature. When the danger and absurdity of such dislocation is impressed upon civilized people by one crisis after another, they realize it is time to ‘deconstruct’ their systems of thought. But ‘deconstruction’ is yet another absurd exercise which only prolongs their detour from the task of getting oriented to life on planet earth. People with indigenous belief systems don’t have to bother deconstructing anything. The detailed structure of an intact indigenous belief system includes a dose of skepticism. Indigenous people have a connection of gratitude and reverence toward nature, but they can take their own beliefs with a grain of salt. As I read Jidi Majia’s poetry, I experience the perspective of an indigenous belief system with its windows thrown wide-open to the modern world.

         When indigenous people are dispossessed, they grope for memory because the continuity of life across generations has value for them. This theme is addressed from many angles in Jidi Majia’s poetry. In ‘Sun’ he writes: ‘…Looking at the sun always makes me miss/ Those people before my time/ Who once could feel this warmth/ And are no longer in this world…’ As specific traditional customs fade away, the great mythic ancestors come to stand for inheritable values. Thus Jidi Majia writes: ‘…Where a river has vanished, time keeps rays to light the past/ As a column of riders approaches along a dream’s edge/ The silvery brightness of saddles disappears/ Deep into a word-string, whereupon I see them/ Elders and wise men we are not justified in forgetting/ In truth they signify truth and dignity on this land/ … I think back, not to dwell on sad losses/ Just being human I am drawn/ To relive all beautiful bygone things!’ (‘Glowing Embers in the Fireplace’). This is a healthy response toward cultural dispossession. Out of the ashes of loss, at least the poet can rescue moments of clear vision to light the way for his successors.

                                                                                                  February 2010

                                                                                   White Canvas Gallery, Nanjing















      吉狄马加执着于诗歌,视诗歌创作为己身的使命和追求,尽管他不期待任何外在于诗歌的奖励,但是他的诗作还是不断获得国家级奖项,并在35岁那年被调到中国作家协会担任书记处书记,从此开始了他诗歌创作和人生事业的新天地。期间,他曾多次率领中国作家代表团出访,与国际文学界对话与交流; 另外,他还曾应邀作为美国国会青年领导者项目一员的身份赴美观察美国政府的工作达两个月之久。为了充分了解吉狄马加近年来在文化领域里的作为和影响,我们不妨参考一下他的另一些活动,比方说他担任了舞台史诗剧《秘境青海》和舞台与音乐剧《雪白的鸽子》的总策划和编剧;作为一位在国内外都颇有影响力的文化人物,吉狄马加还创办了青海湖国际诗歌节,并担任该诗歌节的组委会主任。青海湖国际诗歌节于2007年8月在青海西宁举办了第一届,2009年8月举办了第二届,已在国际诗歌界产生了广泛影响。




      在美国,我们也可以找到不少属于少数民族或种族的作家诗人用他们被作为“局外人”的本民族或种族的历史和传统为文学表现“输血”的范例,譬如美国黑人作家兰斯顿·休斯和拉尔夫·埃里森,美籍犹太人作家伊萨克·辛格和索尔·贝娄, 此外,还有美洲印第安裔诗人谢尔曼·亚历克斯以及美籍华裔诗人李立扬等。



       吉狄马加认为,苦难是人类生存境况中难以避免的部分,好多充满了创造性表现力和希望的图案正是由那种代表着忧郁的色彩通过对比的方式显现出来的。在他的一些描述现代社会危机的诗作里,吉狄马加对于暴力进行了强烈抨击,但他从不提倡“依暴易暴”的做法或观念。众所周知,中国的抗日战争时期,重庆多次遭受日本侵略者飞机的狂轰滥炸,数万人在轰炸中丧生,整个城市几乎变成一座废墟。60多年后的2005年,在纪念全世界反法西斯胜利50周年的日子里,吉狄马加在一首以重庆大轰炸为背景的诗作《我承认,我爱这座城市》里写道,“是的,我爱这座城市 / 还有一个特殊的原因 / 那就是这座伟大的城市 / 与它宽厚善良的人民一样 / 把目光永远投向未来 / 从不复制仇恨 / 在这里,时间、死亡以及生命 / 所铸造的全部生活 / 都变成了一种 / 能包容一切的 / 沉甸甸的历史记忆!/ 从某种意义而言 / 这个城市对于战争的反思 / 对和平的渴望 / 就是今天的中国 / 对这个世界的回答!”



       当土著民族被迫放弃自己的家园时,他们会把一切留给记忆,因为他们一代代的先人们早已用属于他们自己的价值观塑造了他们,让他们重视旷世的生命和跨世的生命的延续。有关这方面的主题在吉狄马加的诗歌里随处可见,在《太阳》里他写道,“…… 望着太阳,总会去思念 / 因为在更早的时候 / 有人曾感受过它的温暖 / 但如今他们却不在这个世上”。随着传统习俗的消逝,他们神话史诗中的祖先开始担任代表可继承价值的角色,于是吉狄马加在《火塘》一诗里这样写道,“在河流消失的地方 / 时间的光芒始终照耀着过去 / 当威武的马队从梦的边缘走过/那闪动白银般光辉的/ 马鞍终于消失在词语的深处/ 此时我看见了他们 / 那些我们没有理由遗忘的先辈和智者/ 其实他们已经成为了这片土地自由和尊严的代名词/ ……我怀念 / 那是因为我的忧伤 / 绝不仅仅是忧伤本身/ 那是因为作为一个人/ 我时常把逝去的一切美好怀念!”。显然,这是对于文化剥夺行为的一个有力的反击和响亮的回答。在文化消遁的灰烬里,吉狄马加和他的诗歌至少能够挽救一种洞照人生道路的视野,并以此留给后来者。


                                                                                                    (杨宗泽  译)

[美国]梅丹理 <wbr> <wbr> <wbr>《吉狄马加诗选》译序(英汉对照)


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