Food Poetry: 张错: 茶的情诗 / Love Lyrics of Tea

Published by Tuesday, April 3, 2012 Permalink 0
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by Dominic Cheung

Translated into English by Karl Zhang

张错: 茶的情诗 Love Lyrics of Tea


如果我是开水 If I were boiling water
你是茶叶 And you were tea leaves,
那么你的香郁 Then all your fragrance would depend
必须倚赖我的无味 Upon my lack of taste.


让你的干枯柔柔的 As your shriveling
在我里面展开,舒散;Loosened within me and unfolded;
让我的浸润 My moisture and lubrication
舒展你的容颜。Would smooth the wrinkles from your face.


我们必须热,甚至沸 We would need to be hot, even boiling
彼此才能相溶。To dissolve inside each other.


我们必须隐藏 We would need to hide
在水里相觑,相缠 Face to face under water, twisting and twining,
盏茶功夫 In a moment of tea
我俩才决定成一种颜色。Before we decided, which color to become.


无论你怎样浮沉 No matter how long you might float and swirl
把持不定 Unstable
你终将缓缓的 Eventually you would
(噢,轻轻的) (Oh, gently)
落下,攒聚  Sink down
在我最深处。To assemble in my depths.


那时候  In that moment
你最苦的一滴泪 Your bitterest teardrop
将是我最甘美的 Would become my sweetest
口茶。 Mouthful of tea.


Dominic Cheung graduated from the National Chengchi University in Taiwan, then studied in the US, where he earned his Ph.D. from the University of Washington in 1974. He is the author of many scholarly books and papers and, under the pseudonym of Chang T’so (Zhang Cuo) is a professional poet who has published more than 17 collections of poetry. He is currently Professor of East Asian Languages at the University of Southern California.

Karl Zhang studied German language and literature in Fudan University in Shanghai for seven years and then in Germany on a Friedrich Naumann Scholarship for three years.  After receiving his Ph.D. from Stanford in 1999 in the German Studies and Humanities Program, he came to George Mason University, where he has overseen the founding of its comprehensive Chinese program. He is currently Associate Professor of Chinese and Head of the Chinese Program in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages, and Education Director of the Confucius Institute at George Mason University. Karl’s dissertation deals with the Chinese-German literary/cultural interactions. His research interests include cultural studies and comparative poetics. He has translated German poems into Chinese and also writes poems himself.

Poem contributed by our poetry editor, Christina Daub.

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  • Grace Cavalieri
    June 3, 2011

    Beautiful — and I have been hoping someday to find a poem to share with my Chinese acupuncturist!

  • Anne Harding Woodworth
    June 3, 2011

    Like a tea ceremony: simple, graceful, sensual, with meaning deep inside. How beautiful.

  • Patricia Gray
    June 3, 2011

    Oooooooo, how lubricious!

  • Karen Schaar
    June 4, 2011

    I’m going to go make myself a cup of tea right now….
    Thanks for sharing!

  • ml
    June 19, 2011

    What a wonderfully evocative poem about love and – yes – death.
    I loved the English translation although I’m a native German speaker.

    • Jonell Galloway
      June 21, 2011

      I believe the German translation is lovely too. The poem is truly moving. It runs through my mind over and over, every single day.