Meditation on the Road: Chinese Wartime Sonnets by Feng Zhi
translated by Huiwen (Helen) Zhang
from the Collection of 27 Sonnets (1941)
Look at the horde of loaded horses
Wind from a thousand miles away
Like a bird flying in the sky,
In what consists our being?
* * *
What might fall from our bodies,
Handing leaves and late blossoms
Cast all old skins into the mud;
From the body of the music the sound falls.
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(thanks to Vic Udwin for the English reading)
Feng Zhi 冯至 (1905-1993) was a modernist poet and the founder of German Studies at Peking University. During his wartime exile, he perceived and approached the exceptional situation of 1940s China from a reflective and introspective distance. His poetry not only conveys his curiosity and concern about each individual being’s existence at a critical moment, but also exemplifies the uncanny sense of hope and despair, bewilderment and determination characteristic of the Chinese “lost generation” of intellectuals.
Huiwen (Helen) Zhang 张慧文 (website, blog) is a curious mind wandering in search of every possible experience and adventure from China through Germany to the United States; a limber voice rendering Chinese, German, and English into one another in quest of the seemingly unattainable congenial; an unyielding spirit striving in the wilderness of philosophy and poetry; and a faithful soul writing under the sign of blue flower and red coral. Her translation series, “Meditation on the Road,” concentrates on Feng Zhi’s Collection of 27 Sonnets (Shisihang Ji, 1941).