E. Powys Mathers’ “Black Marigolds” and Joan Grigsby’s “The Orchid Door”

I have already mentioned poet Joan Grigsby, who adapted Korean poems in accordance with her own poetic vision, in a previous post. On Brother Anthony’s site there is a page linking many of Grigsby’s freely adapted poems to some of the literal translations from which she drew.

Grigsby’s contemporary in England, E. Powys Mathers, did something similar with a Sanskrit poem called the “Chauraspanchasika,” which he adapted freely into a piece called “Black Marigolds.” This page offers a full text of “Black Marigolds,” including Mathers’ preface (linked from a physicist’s personal poetry archive here). The pages Translating: Bilhana 1 and Translating: Bilhana 2 discuss differences between Mathers’ free translation and more literal translations. This page has a complete text of Barbara Stoler Miller’s literal translation of the “Chauraspanchasika.”

I am interested in particular to discover the differences between these free translations and the originals: what these Eastern-minded poets conserved, and how they wove it with their own visions. This kind of study is different from that of occidental haiku or sijo. Those works are not directly grafted onto another poet’s vision, though some of them respond to Eastern poets. The grafted poems are distinctive to me because their essences are still partially derived from an earlier source. This kind of response of Western poets to Eastern work seems distinctive for two reasons: they’re leaning toward a different, perhaps opposite ideology, to their native system, however loosely or tightly they adhere to that system, and they are, in some cases, expressing more generally the emotional truth of an original than a literal translation into English can for those without extensive knowledge of the culture.

My interest in Grigsby stems from that first point: how she creates a cohesive feminist vision from traditional patriarchal works by inserting the female perspective into them, as with “Rainbow Sleeves.” And in Mathers, without having studied any Sanskrit poetry, I feel I have come suddenly close to complex aspects of Indian literature by reading “Black Marigolds.”

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Additional Asian literature and academic links

In the past week, I’ve found many other additions for my various link lists:

Occidental writers in Asia

Joan Grigsby (1891-1937) Part Two: an occidental poet in Korea revealed through Brother Anthony’s extensive web resources.

Becoming Wu De: A Conversation with the founder of Global Tea Hut: interview relating the background of author Aaron Fisher, who lives in Taiwan and has written several books on tea and spirituality.

American poetry

Suji Kwock Kim: a contemporary Korean-American poet.

Burmese literature

Win Pe Mya Zin: contemporary Burmese writer’s Facebook page; will need a Facebook account to read his poetry.

Sadaik: blog about literature of Myanmar and its translation by author Lucas Stewart.

Modern Burmese Literature: article in The Atlantic by U On Pe relating information about Burmese literature from ancient times up to the present.

Burma (Myanmar): from Poetry International Rotterdam. Contemporary Burmese poets, poetry and articles about Burmese literature.

Japanese literature

Gendai Haiku: site about contemporary Japanese haiku poets and poetry.

Korean literature and academic resources

Japanese Poetry Persists in Korea, Despite Disapproval: article in The New York Times about Koreans interested in haiku poetry since the time of Japanese colonial rule; aesthetic differences between Korean and Japanese haiku also mentioned.

The Sejong Cultural Society writing page: Korean short stories and sijo poetry; encourages young American writers to explore Korean culture.

LTI Korea: Literature Translation Institute of Korea; has e-zines available for download, as well as resources about currently published Korean books and translation grants.

The Daesan Foundation: provides grants for those researching and translating Korean literature.

Doosan Yonkang Foundation: provides scholarships and research funds for Korean literature scholars.

The Academy of Korean Studies: research institute aimed at promoting Korean culture and literature overseas; includes the Jangseogak Archives, containing records and books pertaining to Korean history.

American, Asian, and Southeast Asian literature link list

I organized a link list to be featured on my main page, compiling all of my browser bookmarks for online resources of the American, Asian, and Southeast Asian translated literature I have found within the past few months.

American, Asian, Southeast Asian literature available online

Links for reading and research in world literature.

American Literature

Gerald Vizenor: Site constructed with the assistance and active collaboration of the poet, Gerald Vizenor. Includes biography links, bibliography, and works online.

The Poems of John Rollin Ridge: A reproduction of the 1868 publication plus fugitive poems and notes, edited by James W. Parins and Jeff Ward.

Layli Long Soldier: Biography and poem “Whereas” on the Poetry Foundation website.

Jane Johnston Schoolcraft: Site designed to accompany The Sound the Stars Make Rushing Through the Sky: The Writings of Jane Johnston Schoolcraft, edited by Robert Dale Parker.

Suji Kwock Kim: a contemporary Korean-American poet.

Occidental Writers in Asia

Joan Grigsby (1891-1937) Part Two: an occidental poet in Korea revealed through Brother Anthony’s extensive web resources.

Becoming Wu De: A Conversation with the founder of Global Tea Hut: interview relating the background of author Aaron Fisher, who lives in Taiwan and has written several books on tea and spirituality.

World Literature

Postcolonial Theory and Literature – Second Wave: Postcolonial – African, Africa, Studies, and Women: Summary of postcolonial studies by country/region.

Folklore and Mythology Electronic Texts: Edited and/or translated by D.L. Ashliman. Exhaustive compendium of fairy tales from around the world organized by common themes.

Korean Literature

Azalea: Journal of Korean Literature & Culture, Volume 1, 2007: Available online at Project Muse.

The home page of Brother Anthony of Taize: Enormous collection of ancient and modern English-translated Korean literature, much translated by Brother Anthony.

The Cloud Dream of the Nine: a novel by Kim Man-jung: Written in or after 1689, about the times of the Tangs of China around 840 A.D., translated by James S. Gale, 1922.

Korean Folk Tales: Imps, Ghosts and Fairies: Collection of Korean fairy tales translated from the Korean of Im Bang and Yi Ryuk by James S. Gale, 1913.

Korean Poetry in Translation: Resources from Harvard University.

Lesson Plan: Sijo in the Classroom: Teaching Korean sijo poetry in a comparative literature classroom.

Korean Literature: Overview of Korean Literature.

Korean Studies: Links to Korean literature online.

The Sejong Cultural Society writing page: Korean short stories and sijo poetry; encourages young American writers to explore Korean culture.

LTI Korea: Literature Translation Institute of Korea; has e-zines available for download, as well as resources about currently published Korean books and translation grants.

Vietnamese Literature

Homepage of Nguyen Phan Que Mai: Author of The Secret of Hoa Zen, contemporary Vietnamese poetry.

A Tale of Three Translations in Vietnamese Poetry: Examining three different translations of a poem by Hồ Xuân Hương, feminist Vietnamese poet (1772–1822).

Burmese Literature

Burmese Literature: Poems, legends and short stories from the Center for Southeast Asian Studies at Northern Illinois University.

Win Pe Mya Zin: contemporary Burmese writer’s Facebook page; will need a Facebook account to read his poetry.

Sadaik: blog about literature of Myanmar and its translation by author Lucas Stewart.

Modern Burmese Literature: article in The Atlantic by U On Pe relating information about Burmese literature from ancient times up to the present.

Burma (Myanmar): from Poetry International Rotterdam. Contemporary Burmese poets, poetry and articles about Burmese literature.

Japanese Literature

Gendai Haiku: site about contemporary Japanese haiku poets and poetry.