Ling Yu Workshop

At Home in Translation

— To Silvia and all the others

Sing — Muse, sing of the time
a nest of dashing translators have their dreams
dashed by the deuced dashes.
Oh, dash it!


Stately, slim Silvia M. comes from the stairhead,
followed by Brother T who plunges like lead
into the esoteric. Quite the wordsmith, Asst. Prof. W,
whose occasional smile can very well melt you.
First-year PhD student, the camera-wielding Y,
threatens to capture everyone at their most wry.
Kind-hearted Alice, ever true to her art,
cooks the best soup to soothe throat and heart.
C, R, and S: we have Italians to spare,
but with Dr L’s jabbering they cannot compare.
Hidden in a nook is ein guter Mensch D,
a humble student he is and shall always be.


Airing the sutras on a fine day,
and feeding the white horse
(not a horse, whispers Gongsun Long).
Are these what we do along the way,
or items on a ne’er-to-do to-do list?
Syntax (and common sense, dare I say)
suggest the first, while three days of philosophising
begs to give the nay.
Anxious queries gather dust
in the poet’s inbox, far far away.


Three shades of Chinese, harsh German,
a terzetto of post-Dantean Italian,
timid Dutch, and a cacophony
of poststructuralist English
escape through the gnashing teeth
of the window and fly
(or soar or even indeed glide)
alongside the crow-pecked milan,
before plunging into a gorgeous twilight
(mind you, not a dusk or just sunset).


‘The Chinese seem to know not
how to end a poem,’ they bay.
I’ve half a mind to throw in a few
more dashes, and call it a day.
But being of a generous nature,
I have only this to say:
May we gather again, my friends,
before I grow quite grey.

Dylan K. Wang
29 March 2024
At the Translation House Looren

Silvia Marijnissen wrote an excellent summary of the workshop, you can read it on her website.