Saturday, May 19, 2012

Morning Glory

A happy find in my local Books For Change: Lyrics from the Chinese by Helen Waddell, and signed by her. When I found it I was taken aback. I knew her as an authority on Mediaeval Latin. Her book The Wandering Scholars is both enlightening and delightful, how impressive that she was equally at home with Ancient Chinese? Some research revealed that although she was born in Japan, the daughter of missionaries, these poems are her careful interpretations of literal translations.
She died in the Whittington Hospital in Highgate, London, close to where I live, and this copy of her book has come to me from her hand to my hand.
This poem is 3,000 years old.

The morning glory climbs above my head.,
Pale flowers of white and purple, blue and red,
I am disquieted

Down in the withered grasses something stirred;
I thought it was his footfall that I heard.
Then a grasshopper chirred.

I climbed the hill just as the new moon showed,
I saw him coming on the southern road.
My heart lays down it's load.

Chirred - what lovely invention, so much closer to the sound that grasshoppers make than chirrupped. 
More of these here.

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