Bridge to Global Literature

Let’s all remember that more and more poetry gets lost without earnest attempts at translation.Read poetry here to get a glimpse of the rhythms and resonances of languages you don’t know.

Three Taiwanese Poems— Yi Jung Chen

Sep 2, 2022 | Poetry | 0 comments

Self-translated from the Taiwanese by Yi Jung Chen
Hsinkang Sweetmeat

Sugar powder, white and delicate as snow
applied to your cheek instantly.
The cold-hearted heart
could not resist the guidance of
the maltobiose subdued by
the peanuts, teeming with fragrant smells,
made its insistent, nonstop demands of her.
After three hours of incessant moves,
the sweet aroma,
spread its glamorous charms out to the air.

Being a sweet tooth,
When sauntering up and down,
looking at the shops,
You, square-headed,
invited me to grab a big bite of you.
With a soft texture similar to Mochi,
you, retaining chewy at the core,
brought back my childhood memory.
From grandparents to granddaughters,
the intimate connections and affections
shared among us,
transcended beyond generations.

During the class,
I asked my children to guess a riddle.
One of them guessed that you are Mochi.
Another one said that you’re a chewy gum.
Hesitated to swallow you down,
their behaviors triggered me to laugh and sigh.
Taking one of you out
Chewed you slowly and at ease,
regardless of the spring breeze’s endeavors to comfort me,
mixed with the sentiments of helpless loneliness.


The Red-bean Wheel Cake  

The sun passing through the windowsill,
playing a trick with your grizzly white hairs,
reminded me of our childhood,
we went out to play games together.
Memory, like the shiny and colorful marbles,
fell off to the ground one by one, out of the blue,
invoked my sentimental feelings.

One day,
we ran into each other in the street, unexpectedly.
With smiles, you gave me a paperback.
You put it in my palms.
Not before long,
the hot and chewy dough,
custard with the slightly sweet beans,
a flavor, mixed with your charming dimple
made all of my sadness and worries vanish
in just a few minutes.

At night,
I prayed to the goddess of Moon,
both of us could be safe and unharmed,
live long to the age of 120,
paying no heed to taboos.


A Mackerel Sky  

Standing there,
you invited me with lucent eyes.
Waving your hands to me,
you invited me with a radiant smile.
Feeling exhausted,
my spirit was boosted by the aroma of
a strong plume of the very warm air mass,
slowly proliferating and gathering into nuggets
in my heart.

Not very long before
you served up a dish of
deep-fried sweet potato balls,
their yellow and glossy appearances
with the fillings of a silky, soft inner texture.
Grabbing a bite of it,
the taste of sweetness still has been
lingered around my palate.
Reminding me of the instant
we first fell in love,
your chubby hands
had built calluses, wrought by
household chores and burdens.
Over the years,
you have become all skins and bone.

In the firmament,
white clouds in the form of the fish scales,
spreading up out of the blue,
followed by the incessant drizzling rain.
Playing the oldies we enjoyed so much,
I hold your hands,
hugging your waist, quietly
sitting on the windowsill,
listening to the sound of falling rain
and growing old together.


Also, read five Marathi poems, written by Santosh Pawar , translated to English by Dr. Santosh Rathod, and published in The Antonym

Train to Dungeon & Other Poems— Santosh Pawar


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Yi Jung Chen teaches pupils with learning difficulties at Dounan Elementary School in Taiwan. She used to write children’s stories for illustrated picture books both in English and Japanese separately. However, they were kept unpublished. In her leisure time, she also writes poems in English, Chinese, and Taiwanese languages. Her dream is to share the beauty of Taiwanese people through its daily language with people around the world.

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