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Minmin's reply to Xu Zhimo's Leaving Cambridge poem

In June 2012 I was involved in a BBC Radio 3 "Between the Ears" episode about Xu Zhimo's Leaving Cambridge poem. One of the listeners was a biochemist named Minmin who had recently arrived at Cambridge, and the programme inspired her to write her own Chinese poem about taking up a post at LMB. Here is that poem, with pinyin annotation and a rhyming translation I made (2015) in the same style as the one I made of Xu Zhimo's poem.

踏上Tàshang 康桥Kāngqiáo Stepping aboard Cambridge
Minmin  zuò 聆听língtīng BBC  radio  3  “Between  the  Ears”  有关yǒuguān 徐志摩Xú Zhìmó  再别康桥Zài Bié Kāngqiáo  节目jiémù 之后zhīhòu,  2012  nián 6  yuè 30  Written by Minmin after listening to BBC Radio 3's ``Between the Ears'' programme about Xu Zhimo's ``Leaving the Revisited Cambridge'', 30 June 2012

惊喜Jīngxǐ de lái le, 

正如zhèngrú 恍恍huǎnghuǎng de mèng 

缓缓huǎnhuǎn de 移步yíbù 

融入róngrù 眼前yǎnqián 精致jīngzhì de 缤纷bīnfēn 

Delighted now I reach the Cam

as dream'ly slow I stroll;

Melt into the grandiose

diverse and delicate whole.

杨柳Yángliǔ 婀娜多姿ēnuóduōzī, 

绿荫lǜyīn xià de 小船xiǎochuán 清波qīngbō 荡漾dàngyàng; 

怦然心动pēngránxīndòng de , 

黯然ànrán 青春qīngchūn 小鸟xiǎoniǎo de 远航yuǎnháng 

’Neath the graceful willows' shade

the punts on ripples sway;

my anxious heart restirs its ebb

where youth's sail'd bird once lay.

河边Hébiān 驻足zhùzú de , 

思绪sīxù pāi 湿了shīle 脸颊liǎnjiá; 

人地生疏réndìshēngshū de , 

茫茫mángmáng 不知bùzhī 何以héyǐ wéi jiā 

Hosts of thoughts that moisten cheeks

at Cam-side pause my roam;

These strange surrounds and populace

just how can be my home?

花丛Huācóng biān de 椅凳yǐdèng, 

温暖wēnnuǎn 环抱huánbào xíng dān de 孤寂gūjì; 

shǒu pěng 书卷shūjuàn de 恬静tiánjìng, 

tīng 落叶luòyè 偶偶ǒuǒu chuī li 

A flower-bordered bench in warmth

hems in my lonesome look;

I hear but puffs of fallen leaves

and tranqu'ly clutch my book.

Shì mèng?  Shì huàn?  还是Háishi 迷人mírén de 异地yìdì? 

悠悠Yōuyōu 几许jǐxǔ 不可思议bùkěsīyì; 

辗转zhǎnzhuǎn 踏上tàshang 康桥Kāngqiáo, 

tiáo 小舟xiǎozhōu 驶向shǐxiàng 结构jiégòu 生物shēngwù de 发源地fāyuándì 

A dream? a tale? exotic land?

How inconceived the flight

of wand'ring step adrift this place

life's engines saw the light.

阅读Yuèdú 实验室shíyànshì 辉煌huīhuáng de 历史lìshǐ, 

感叹gǎntàn 科学kēxué 飞速fēisù de 发展fāzhǎn; 

置身zhìshēn 如此rúcǐ 骄傲jiāo'ào de 殿堂diàntáng, 

rǎn bìng 激发着jīfāzhe 执着zhízhuó  探索tànsuǒ 向往xiàngwǎng 

To enter such an honoured lab

Of yore and yonder strides

infects the eyes to yearn and dig

and find what nature hides.

幸运Xìngyùn de lái le, 

正如zhèngrú 久久jiǔjiǔ de mèng 

静静jìngjìng de 抬头táitóu, 

欣然xīnrán 开始kāishǐ 明天míngtiān de 新生xīnshēng 

Privilig'd now to board the Cam

fulfilling longtime dream;

with calm I start the morrow's life

as joyfulness I beam.

This poem and its translation had their first public reading by Minmin Yu and Heidi Leroy-Short at the wedding of Silas Brown and Yun Wen Chen on 14th March 2015 (postponed from 17th February due to visa issues).


© Minmin Yu and Silas S. Brown