Sunday, July 05, 2009

The Turtle

Still Life With A Fish And A Tortoise
by Giuseppe Recco

—Kuo Mo-jo (1892-1978)

The earth revives,
All beings tremble,
But this is only for a second,
Then all is hushed.

There is silence after the heave,
A silence like annihilation,
Sunshine smiles to the children,
To the dazed and terrified children.

I remember this once happened in my youth,
Mother told me 'twas an enormous turtle opening and shutting its eyes.
Under the earth is there truly a giant turtle?
I saw it with the eye of a youthful mind.

Now the enormous turtle is dead
And yet I see it soaring through the air.
I know that the quake was caused by a volcano
But how does this knowledge benefit my soul?

(translated from the Chinese by Harold Acton and Ch'en Shih-hsiang)