Very short poems you like

Benny B

Well-known member
Doesnt english have a massive amount of words, more than most languages? Chinese also doesnt use verb tenses or conjugate nouns for gender/number. Seems way more apt for brevity than english.

I had a spanish teacher once explain situations where spanish was 'better' than english but unfortunately I remember none of it
Well one thing about Spanish is that so many words end with O or A, so it's easier to rhyme. The translations of the Lorca I've seen obviously lose that dimension.
 

sufi

lala
The Quran is usually arranged starting with the longest sura through to the shortest. The shortest 3 suras are sublime in every way. The vocabulary and grammar still resonate with ringing clarity, the shapes of the letters and elisions of the words, the elegance of the flow, the rhythm and metre of the language, the evocative imagery, the heartfelt devotion, and the precision and vehemence of the message recited daily millions of times. a diss upon all the previous holy books, of course, the prophet was well aware

Listen to them and read along. commit them to memory❤️(each one is only less than a minute)

https://myislam.org/surah-al-falaq/ The Daybreak & https://quran.com/an-nas Mankind - powerful words against sorcery and the evil eye, https://myislam.org/surah-ikhlas/ Sincerity - Declaration of monotheism

بِسْمِ ٱللَّهِ ٱلرَّحْمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

قُلْ أَعُوذُ بِرَبِّ ٱلنَّاسِ
مَلِكِ ٱلنَّاسِ
إِلَـٰهِ ٱلنَّاسِ
مِن شَرِّ ٱلْوَسْوَاسِ ٱلْخَنَّاسِ
ٱلَّذِى يُوَسْوِسُ فِى صُدُورِ ٱلنَّاسِ
مِنَ ٱلْجِنَّةِ وَٱلنَّاسِ​
In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate.

Say, “I seek refuge in the Lord of Mankind,
The Sovereign of mankind.
The God of mankind,
From the evil of the lurking whisperer –
Who whispers into the hearts of mankind –
From among the jinn and mankind.”

بِسْمِ ٱللَّهِ ٱلرَّحْمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

قُلْ أَعُوذُ بِرَبِّ ٱلْفَلَقِ
مِن شَرِّ مَا خَلَقَ
وَمِن شَرِّ غَاسِقٍ إِذَا وَقَبَ
وَمِن شَرِّ ٱلنَّفَّـٰثَـٰتِ فِى ٱلْعُقَدِ
وَمِن شَرِّ حَاسِدٍ إِذَا حَسَدَ​
In the name of Allah,the Merciful, the Compassionate.

Say, “I seek refuge in the Lord of Daybreak
From the evil of that which He created
And from the evil of darkness when it settles
And from the evil of the blowers in knots
And from the evil of an envier when he envies.”

بِسْمِ ٱللَّهِ ٱلرَّحْمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

قُلْ هُوَ ٱللَّهُ أَحَدٌ
ٱللَّهُ ٱلصَّمَدُ
لَمْ يَلِدْ وَلَمْ يُولَدْ
وَلَمْ يَكُن لَّهُۥ كُفُوًا أَحَدٌۢ​
In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate.

Say, “He is Allah, the Singularity,
Allah, the Eternal Refuge.
He neither begets nor is born,
Nor is there to Him any equivalent.”
 

sufi

lala
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william_kent

Well-known member
a problem with translating or reading Chinese poetry is how full it is of references to thousands of years worth of other poems

I've just opened the third volume of 'Chin P'ing Mei' ( The Plum in the Golden Vase ), a classic of Chinese literature, and on the page that opened at 'random' there is this short poem ( the author intersperses the prose with short excerpts of verse which illustrate the action )

Brocade sashes fluttered,
Gaudy ropes hung pendulously.
The wheel of the bright moon,
Arose out of the east, and
Illuminated the chamber,
Under the flickering lamplight.

The editor has had to supply footnotes for the first and third lines, pointing out that the "four character sequence" ( in both cases ) occurs in a long list of other poems, something I suppose someone familiar with the entire corpus of Chinese literature would get, but for a western reader means nothing. Sort of like if a western poem referenced something like "a handful of dust'...immediate associations spanning centuries...
 

william_kent

Well-known member
annoyingly I'm a couple of thousand pages into 'Chin P'ing Mei' and a Mandarin speaking friend has informed me that it is a 'spin off' of "Heroes of the Marsh" ( aka 'The Water Margin'), and maybe I should have read the 12 volumes of that first....
 

luka

Well-known member
There's a good JH Prynne introduction to the Songs From a Jade Terrace that goes into that in depth.
 

luka

Well-known member
Kenner is good on how this sort of thing


Brocade sashes fluttered,
Gaudy ropes hung pendulously.
The wheel of the bright moon,
Arose out of the east, and
Illuminated the chamber,
Under the flickering lamplight.

Is the kind of Victorianising of Chinese verse Pound was trying to sweep away
 

catalog

Well-known member
To me English is more of a functional language than anything else. It's primarily about communication, not about beauty or romance. That's not to say there are not beautiful turns of 0hrase in English, but I think they sit in dialects more.

Like, I'm nearly dual language and punjabi is a lot more beautiful and poetic than English I would say, especially spoken.

And punjabi is nothing compared to classical urdu.

I mean like sufi has shown, proper Arabic script is still beautiful calligraphy, whereas we have comic sans.
 

luka

Well-known member
german and arabic are barbaric horrible noises but both have very strong poetic tranditions. italian is pleasant enough to listen to but not much has happened since Dante, whos boring anyway
 

luka

Well-known member
Prynne says there are only two Great Poetic Traditions in the world, one is English and the other is Chinese and the Chinese
is incomparably more ancient.
 

catalog

Well-known member
when you say 'poetic' do you mean 'musical'?
Perhaps a little, yes, but there are also nicer syllables and stuff. Also word order and placement tho. But mostly it is how certain words or phrases capture a feeling in a specific way. Like eg "chand Ka tukda" (or "tukra" which is how you would say it) which is the name of a famous bollywood film. It translates as "piece of the moon" but the Hindi puts moon first if you see what I mean?
 

thirdform

Well-known member
English is an illogical language, which is why it's very difficult to put verse to song.

like i was trying to translate a famous mystic saying into English:

Sevda yolunda çöl oldum.

I became a desert on the road of love.

Just horrid, too many words, not enough agglutenation. Verbs and pronouns should come at the end of sentences imo and subjects at the beginning.
 

catalog

Well-known member
Is English the only one that has the referent in a sentence a different way around from all the romance languages!

It's like driving on the left innit. The English are the original idiosyncratics.
 

Corpsey

bandz ahoy
One of the reasons I fear and despise poetry is I have no ear for the subtle
musicality of language, only the most basic stuff that even a child would catch, like alliteration and assonance and rhyme.

This often distresses me, when an eminent critic quotes a passage of Milton or whoever and writes how self evidently wonderful it is, when to me it looks (and even sounds) not particularly wonderful at all.

Perhaps the meaning of words (the web of associations each might conjure) obtrudes for me - I can certainly hear more "music" in foreign languages, which mean absolutely nothing to me. I often wonder what English must sound like to a non English speaker.

My favourite poetry is therefore either full of ideas that interest me, or observations/emotions I relate to, or obviously rhymes.

I can certainly see why people might find obvious rhymes and regular rhythms boring and stifling.

I was thinking, reading some of the poems in this thread last night, how I much prefer that translation of the Rubiyat (not a short poem) with all its clever little alliterative bells and whistles, it's reassuring rhymes and most of all its big clonking philosophical statements.

A thicko, in short. A philistine. The purest imaginable.
 

catalog

Well-known member
Another thing about all the languages other than English is all thd little corruptions and nicknames, thd almost endless variations on a theme.

When I was visiting Poland, I stayed with this guy called "mikal", pronounced "mee how" but then his cousin called him "mishu" and they had z few other variations.

Not to say it doesn't happen in English, bug it felt new to me all that.
 

jenks

thread death
Is English the only one that has the referent in a sentence a different way around from all the romance languages!

It's like driving on the left innit. The English are the original idiosyncratics.
English is essentially a branch of German just with a big slab of French vocab however by losing the case and gender systems of the Germanic languages it means syntax is much more important- the relationship between the words dependant on their order rather than via endings etc. The subtleties of mood/aspect (what mistakenly get called tenses) in English are missing in other languages - Chinese famously doing all the time stuff with adverbs rather than the fixed verb.

Whether it’s less poetic I would dispute, more like it cannot be bent into certain shapes easily.
 
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