Renditions no. 62 (Autumn 2004)
Different genres of work by the Song-dynasty writer Lu You, excerpts from the 19th-century novel The Strange Case of Nine Murders by Wu Woyao, and classical poetry by the scholar Yeh Chia-ying.
Table of Contents
|Lu You||Selected Prose Writings
Translated by Philip Watson
|The Mist-swathed Skiff|
|Epitaph for Girlie from the Lu clan of Shanyin|
|Epitaph for Madame Fei|
|Journey to Sichuan: excerpts|
|Wu Jianren||A Strange Case of Nine Murders: Chapters I and II
Translated by Douglas Lancashire
|Zhang Henshui||Dream the Thirty-sixth from Eighty-one Dreams
Translated by T. M. McClellan
|Han Shaogong||The Divagations of Metaphysex
Translated by Simon Patton
|Wen Jie||‘My Psychiatrist’: a poem cycle
Translated by Birgit Linder
|Florence Chia-ying Yeh||Selected Classical Poems
Translated by Tommy W.K. Tao and James R. Hightower
|Ode to the Lotus|
|Quatrain Composed Extempore After the Senior High School Graduation Dinner|
|To the tune of ‘Three Word Gold’|
|An Outing at Yeliu: Four Quatrains|
|Lines that Came in a Dream: a quatrain derived from Li Shangyin’s poems|
|My hair was too long. I cut it short. Finding it unmanageable, I then combed it up into a bun. Some who saw the changes were astonished. So I wrote this in jest.|
|To the tune of ‘Partridge Sky’|
|Notes on Authors||113|
|Notes on Contributors||115|
A Strange Case of Nine Murders
Translated by Douglas Lancashire
A band of robbers makes a noisy and disorderly debut; and a story is introduced, gradually and informally.
HEY! MATES, we’re here! But look, the main gate is shut tight. How shall we break in’
‘Pah! Stupid! Can this piddling double wooden gate stand in our way—come on, let’s get my hammer!’
Crash! Crash! What a noise!
‘I’ve done it! I’ve done it! The first gate’s open! Damn! The second gate’s made of iron; how are we going to deal with it?’
‘Great! Great! That cannon blast means that elder brother Lin is here! Elder brother Lin, I can’t break open this solid iron gate!’
‘Humph!’ exclaimed Lin. ‘This Old Lin has been the terror of this region for more than ten years, and I don’t believe there’s any iron gate I can’t break open. Let me have a look! Pah! There’s nothing to it! Get some lard and kindling as fast as you can. We’ll all pile it up and set light to it. When iron’s heated up it goes soft.’
‘Light the fire!’
The fire crackles, and sparks fly in all directions.
‘The kindling isn’t making the iron gate glow red. Bring some charcoal and be quick about it.’
‘Good! It’s getting red! Now, brothers! Attack the gate at once!’
‘The gatehouse has collapsed. Let’s force our way in!’
‘My! No wonder people say the Liang family has a stone fortress—even its door is stone.’
‘Elder brother Lin, we’ve forced the iron gates open with fire, but I doubt that fire will work on stone gates. What other tricks do you know?’
‘Pah! We’ve all got knives, hammers, axes and chisels, so we should just combine our strength and get on with it! If we dally and Master Ling comes before we’ve forced our way in, how are we going to get our reward?’
‘Right! These walls can’t be impregnable, let’s give it our all!’
What an effort! Knives, hammers, axes and chisels, all raining down blows.
‘Great! I’ve struck a piece off here the size of a finger!’
‘I haven’t shifted anything, not even a tiny bit!’
‘Damn! I’ve been battering away for more than an hour now! I’ve raided and plundered hundreds of homes in my time, and I’ve never known a job as tough as this one! Brothers! Don’t waste any more energy on it. Let’s think of something else; let’s go up by rope ladder!’
‘That’s no use! This stone house hasn’t got a courtyard. There are only two windows, each no more than a foot or so high and four or five inches wide. How can anyone possibly get in!’
‘In that case, let’s dig a tunnel!’
‘That’s no use either! This strong house was built when my old man was alive. He always used to say: “They dug a trench all around, twelve feet deep, and filled it up with sand.” ‘
‘Then we’re stuck!’
Boom! Boom! Boom!
My hair was too long. I cut it short. Finding it unmanageable, I then combed it up into a bun. Some who saw the changes were astonished. So I wrote this in jest.
By Florence Chia-ying Yeh
Translated by Tommy W. K. Tao
Long, like a tail, one day;
Shortened and shaggy the next;
And now combed up into a bun.
Three different looks in three consecutive days.
Life is like a game,
You dress up for the play.
Be not astonished, my dear friend,
My looks are not worthy of your remark.
Outward appearances are just illusions,
The real me is hidden in my heart.
The Goddess of Mercy’s thirty-two guises
All illusory, every one.
If you gaze upon the illusive,
You won’t see me though we meet.