Featured Poem

Tribe of Palaeopithecus

the forest was filled with fallen fruit, a scarlet carpet
whose origin lay in geological change
the waters had receded, the tiger’s sabre tooth was rotten
around the empty ground we discussed the future
the old ones had just crawled out from evolution, waving their old fists
the young ones could no longer hold their tongues, they’d got to be the first
to eat the sika deer: ambition to move a mountain lacking
though they could ford the river, north and south
the fields were just a dining table
the so-called republic too rumbustious
nevertheless autumn’s despotism drove off mosquitoes and flies
fortunately we were all standing upright
able to watch the stars, fight empty-handed to free ourselves from the food chain
but the October work force
still inclined towards surplus: no need to paint our skin, or to cook
with flesh for firewood, only the males kept on
up-ending the females, chanting the beauty of it
until, at least with spring flowers and autumn moons,
to say ‘I love you’ out loud still took two million years


This poem was translated by Brian Holton with Lee Man-Kay

Runner-up MPT Poetry Translation Competition 2011

This poem will appear in the forthcoming Bloodaxe Anthology Jade Ladder

Due out 18th April 2012 at The London Book Fair

Brian Holton will be part of MPT's LBF panel discussion on 'Bringing Chinese Poetry to the UK

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About the translation:
» Read translator's notes
Poet:
Jiang Tao
Translator:
Brian Holton
Original language:
Chinese
Issue:

Original poem

About the authors

Poet

Jiang Tao

Jiang Tao was born in Tianjin in 1970, and studied first at Tsinghua University, only to abandon biomedical engineering for a...

» Read more

Translator

Brian Holton

Brian Holton studied Chinese at Edinburgh and Durham: he has taught at both universities as well as at Newcastle, where he was...

» Read more

《古猿部落》(Tribe of Palaeopithecus)

树林里落满果实,猩红的地毯
源于地质的变迁
水退了,老虎的剑齿烂了
我们围着空地商量未来
老的刚从进化里爬出,挥老拳
少的已按耐不住舌头,要第一个
去吃梅花鹿,移山的志向没有
倒可以涉水,南方北方的
田野只是一张餐桌
所谓共和闹哄哄
还是独裁之秋赶走蚊蝇
好在我们都直立着
可以观天象,徒手挣脱了食物链
但十月的劳动力
还是倾向剩余:不需要画皮,烹饪
肉身当木柴,只有公的继续
将母的掀翻,朗诵祂的美
但要说出“我爱你”
至少春花秋月的,还要两百万年

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