The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review
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Poem for Tuesday


The Ballad of Mu-lan
By Tzu-Yeh
Translated by Han H. Frankel


Tsiek tsiek and again tsiek tsiek,
Mu-lan weaves, facing the door.
You don't hear the shuttle's sound,
You only hear Daughter's sighs.
They ask Daughter who's in her heart,
They ask Daughter who's on her mind.
"No one is on Daughter's heart,
No one is on Daughter's mind.
Last night I saw the draft posters,
The Khan is calling many troops,
The army list is in twelve scrolls,
On every scroll there's Father's name.
Father has no grown-up son,
Mu-lan has no elder brother.
I want to buy a saddle and horse,
And serve in the army in Father's place."

In the East Market she buys a spirited horse,
In the West Market she buys a saddle,
In the South Market she buys a bridle,
In the North Market she buys a long whip.
At dawn she takes leave of Father and Mother,
In the evening camps on the Yellow River's bank.
She doesn't hear the sound of Father and Mother calling,
She only hears the Yellow River's flowing water cry tsien tsien.

At dawn she takes leave of the Yellow River,
In the evening she arrives at Black Mountain.
She doesn't hear the sound of Father and Mother calling,
She only hears Mount Yen's nomad horses cry tsiu tsiu.
She goes ten thousand miles on the business of war,
She crosses passes and mountains like flying.
Northern gusts carry the rattle of army pots,
Chilly light shines on iron armor.
Generals die in a hundred battles,
Stout soldiers return after ten years.

On her return she sees the Son of Heaven,
The Son of Heaven sits in the Splendid Hall.
He gives out promotions in twelve ranks
And prizes of a hundred thousand and more.
The Khan asks her what she desires.
"Mu-lan has no use for a minister's post.
I wish to ride a swift mount
To take me back to my home."

When Father and Mother hear Daughter is coming
They go outside the wall to meet her, leaning on each other.
When Elder Sister hears Younger Sister is coming
She fixes her rouge, facing the door.
When Little Brother hears Elder Sister is coming
He whets the knife, quick quick, for pig and sheep.
"I open the door to my east chamber,
I sit on my couch in the west room,
I take off my wartime gown
And put on my old-time clothes."
Facing the window she fixes her cloudlike hair,
Hanging up a mirror she dabs on yellow flower powder
She goes out the door and sees her comrades.
Her comrades are all amazed and perplexed.
Traveling together for twelve years
They didn't know Mu-lan was a girl.
"The he-hare's feet go hop and skip,
The she-hare's eyes are muddled and fuddled.
Two hares running side by side close to the ground,
How can they tell if I am he or she?"

--------

girlingoldboots found this for me after I said I wanted to read one of the historical versions of Mulan. It's from Yale University Press' The Flowering Plum and the Palace Lady: Interpretations of Chinese Poetry. This page cites several children's versions of the story, including China's Bravest Girl by Charlie Chin, The Song of Mu Lan by Jeanne M. Lee, The Ballad of Mulan by Song Nan Zhang, and Fa Mu Lan by Robert San Souci, and live-action films Maiden in Armor, The Lady General Hua Mu Lan and the miniseries Hua Mu Lan.

Today was the kids' first official day of spring break (first day when school would have been held otherwise, at least), so to celebrate we met my parents for lunch at Bagel City -- since my father works from home on Mondays, he snuck away from work and my mother had already been out shopping in the area. apaulled had gone in early and decided to meet us as well. Several fantastic tuna, egg salad, nova lox spread and corned beef bagels plus black and white cookies and chocolate covered macaroons later, we were full and happy. (Speaking of Jewish food, I posted this to witches_kitchen so I might as well share here: Moshe Ba'tayva (Moses in the Basket), dates stuffed with homemade marzipan for Passover. Everything interesting I know how to cook is a dessert. *G*)

Once my father and husband went off to work, I took the boys to Office Depot, which has 128 MB flash drives on sale after rebate for less than $4, and I ended up getting my mother to get one too because it's one rebate per household and both my son and my husband had been talking about wanting these for school/work. Then my mother went home to cook for Passover and the kids and I went to Borders because younger son wanted Taschen's gorgeous Penguin photo book and I needed to pick up a gift. After that, we took a long walk around the neighborhood -- well, I walked and the kids rode their scooters -- stopping at all the play equipment so they could twist themselves in the swings and get dizzy. Older son tends to avoid play equipment when there are kids his age around, but when it's just him and his brother, he is perfectly willing to goof off.

Forgot to post this yesterday which is maybe just as well because it will probably piss some people off, as I realized belatedly that some of the contributors are on several of my friends' friends lists here: my Green Man Review write-up of Mapping the World of Harry Potter: Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors Explore the Bestselling Fantasy Series of All Time. Which I really do not want to argue about here, as it kind of falls into the category of Real Work, but I figured if anyone was interested they could read it and we could argue privately or something. *g* I already posted my rant about the Snape chapter here anyway! Tonight because we are losers we watched The Wrath of Khan because it was on HBO Family. Spock died, again. It was very sad. Before that, he said, "Jim! Be careful," and McCoy said, "WE will!" and OMG<33333. *g*


Younger son's friend came over today with a big bucket and his latest brilliant discovery: salamanders he caught down by the creek.


All they wanted was to go crawl back under their nice damp rock and hide...


...but the cats were, at first, very interested to meet them. However, as you can tell from the first photo, Rosie soon distracted herself looking out the storm door...


...because our friend the chipmunk who lives beneath the broken stair was peeking out!
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Thanks to celandineb for my '80s mix CDs! And the good news: we have tickets for the Nationals' Tuesday home opener against the Mets! The bad news: Dick Cheney is throwing out the first pitch! Maybe he'll miss and hit himself in the head. *veg*
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