Halcyon Days Of Youth

This entry was inspired by Haru… Thanks for making me remember.


Gone are the days of school but now yearning to return. Gone are my childhood friends whom I play and fought with. The giants in our teachers, tall and erect. Fearsome like the ogres of storybooks are but now mere shadows of their former selves. So tiny and midget-like in my eyes of now. Silly it is of me to be so frightened and in awe even to be in their shadows then.

I speak to them and hear them talk. How shallow are their knowledge compared to what I possess. No matter how little do they know, it is them who are my teachers, teaching me the art of growing up and to be a leader amongst men. I am sure, they are proud of me. Without them, this cocky sprout would never become a mightier oak than them. For this, I thank them with all my heartfelt sincerity.

Gone are the days of laughter and chatter in the classrooms. They are now empty and silent before me. I looked in wonder at the tiny elf-like chairs and desks I once used to sit and write upon; scribbling in haste to beat the alloted essay time limit. If I now sit on it, it would surely break! Time changes everything. Essays, now I can write at the drop of the hat!

On the wooden surfaces of the desk are marks of old, forever etched in time by generations past. I fondly remembered how this mark had gotten there and how that chip came into being. So long ago and yet still so fresh in my mind. Yes, I am a giant now, of greatest stature but in my mind, a kid of so many yesteryears ago. I seemed to hear the voices of my teachers telling us to be quiet. Still so many voices in my head begging to be heard.

Gone are the years when I came back to my old school. Nary a classroom in sight. Nary a path to be seen. Now, in front of my eyes, an alien landscape I know not. Gone are the desks and chairs I once used. I should have taken them when I had the chance.

Gone are the familiar faces. Even soild buildings are not immune to time. Truely lost in the strange buildings and yet on familiar grounds I trod. No one recognized me but asked this stranger his business here. I paused and I smiled, replying in lies that I am on my way to see the headmaster. No more questions asked and went their way. For a few more moments, I pondered in sighs. Should I continue my journey? No point, I told myself. For time is a heartless traveller recognizing no friend or foe.
Haru’s original piece.
Translation Practice


Finally we reach the age that we used to look forward to but only to find that some people have been engaged. Some have been married; some have goneabroad; some are living a smooth life; some are still insisting on their dreams; some are still living a mediocre life… The blue sky that belongs to the graduation seasons has been gone. We have no idea where the people who promised to accompany us to the future are. As we are looking at the sky outside of the window, it suddenly turns black. Just like our youth, it slips away without trace.


My polishing and correction of her above piece.

Finally we have reached the age that we as kids used to look forward to but only to find that some people are engaged, some married; some are abroad; some are having a great life; some are still insisting living out on their dreams and others in a life of idleness… Gone is the blue sky of our graduation days. Then there is the one on the quadrangle who said that we will walk together into the future, is nowhere to be seen. Looking at the sky through the window, see how gloomy it had become. Just I felt like our youth, fleeting away and suddenly gone without a trace.


Wishing Upon A Boat

Friday, June 15, 2012

Wishing Upon A Boat

Simple pleasures of an uncomplicated life.  Let not the rat races of the world come knocking here into this paradise.
Semporna, a tiny town in East Malaysia on the northern side of theIslandofBorneo
小舟划水伴龍影, Rowing a little boat by the dragon’s shadow,
龍影閃罩龍宮苑. The dragon’s shadow briefly crosses the Dragon Palace garden.
宮苑為世人為天, If the Palace Garden is Earth, then man must be Heaven,
天為心靜從何怨. Heaven is the bliss of the heart, whence resentment comes from?
Thursday, June 14, 2012

18 June 2012…The theme of the above Chinese poem was inspired when I first saw the picture. However, during my time spent in Balboa Park in this past week, I was mulling over it. The theme may be okay but the imagery was not appropriate to the picture. The movement was too fast implied by the “dragon’s shadow”. At the same time, the poem does not quite rhyme. I was toying with a pattern not found in Chinese. I was making the end of the previous line into the starting of the next line. It was fun and whimsical but not really good. As I was strolling through the sunny day in the park, my mind was relentless with me until I have come up with something satisfactory. At the same time, I thought it would be a good idea to let you all have a glimpse into my thought process is.There were a number of lines, I first came up to make the poem rhyme.

划舟破水隨龍影 Rowing the boat, breaking the water, following the dragon’s shadow. However, there are two things that are not quite right. First of all, not everyone at the first glance will know that the dragon’s shadow refers to the longish shadow of the boat in the photo. “Breaking the water/waves” suggests faster movement than in the photo. Also one does not see any wave around the boat except the hint of ripples caused by the oar and those in further distance from the boat.After removing the dragon’s shadow, another line rose up as, 划舟破水兩邊分. This is line good except that it does not reflect the mood in the photo well. In the third line, I wanted to convey that if the imagery world of the ocean is a human world, and that we are so lucky to behave like gods in peering down to their world, we should have no worries at all. In another words, it is just the perspective in how we should percieve to avoid sorrows. This is the theme that I wanted to convey. I was trying out different phrases such as 船上童子, (Boy on the boat), 海族 (denizens of the ocean), 魚族 (clans of fish, fish denizens). However, this is too direct and explicit. Chinese like to be oblique in their arts. At the same time, keeping in mind the constraints of the rhyming structure. In the end, I came up with the following.
划舟渡眾水清深, Rowing the boat, ferrying them across the clear waters deep,
海靜無風聽漣音. Calm is the ocean, I hear the sound of ripples.
船下人間面上仙, If those under the boat is the mortal world, then all above must be immortal’s,
懮愁漂來誰之心. Should sorrow come drifting by, to whom does it belong to?

I like the phrase 渡眾, “ferrying the masses”. It can be literal as in the photo ferrying his siblings or can be figurative as in salvation of the masses in Buddhist terminology. I wanted to use another Buddhist term, 苦海, “the sea of bitterness” but this ill-fits the photo and mood.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

閑舟海上浮,  Leisurely a little boat floats on the sea,
水清見底遊.  Waters so clear, I see the bottom for a stroll.
世外瑣碎事, Whatever trivialities of the outside world,
不許在此投. May not intrude here.

Friday, June 22, 2012

身在海上船,  Thought my body lies on the boat on the sea,
心於水底亮.   My heart is happiest when I am swimming under it.
安寧兩样全,   Peace and contentment both I have,
富貴無亦常.   Riches and wealth nary any effect in my life.