The Sick Rose 蔷薇蔫 by William Blake

This is my Chinese translation of Blake’s poem :

 

The Sick Rose 蔷薇蔫

By William Blake  1757 – 1827

 

O Rose, thou art sick: 啊薔薇,你蔫了

The invisible worm, 無形的蠕虫

That flies in the night 在夜間飛躍

In the howling storm, 風雨呼嘯中

Has found out thy bed 覓到你的花壇

Of crimson joy; 你血紅的欣喜

And his dark secret love暗戀著你的它

Does thy life destroy. 摧毀了你終生

(c) Mary Tang 2016

 

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“So I Just Took Some Photographs”

Crippled with a bad back and not being able to sit for long or toil in my orchard, I stole a page from Derrick and took some photographs.  Walking around my neighbourhood yesterday, I snapped some pics with my iPhone on my way to nowhere.  My suburb sits right at the mouth of the freeway and it’s a pleasure to cross it while smiling at the waiting cars (though it was lunch time and there was no traffic).

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It was cold.  The top temperature was only 6ºC  but the last few days’ unseasonal warmth had pushed on some spring bursts.  Such is the weather of Sydney.

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I went into the local park and looked for signs of life in this hopeful tree house

A musician was practicing in the park.  I don’t think he’s a busker or he’d picked the worst spot for his business.

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A vignette worth crossing the freeway for ?

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BUTTERFLIES, HONEYBEES AND THE NEIGHBOUR’S CAT

This gallery contains 6 photos.

Originally posted on agoyvaerts:
A happy Monday morning wishes to all, hope that your week has started well. My week could not have started any better when early on I woke up to glorious sunshine. I happen to glance out…

Gallery | 6 Comments

Orchid Fair

Spring in Sydney starts on 1 September but nature does not obey our official calendar and it was 20ºC on this sunny Sunday when my friends and I visited the St. Ives Orchid Fair.

I do not own a car so I was grateful to Ben and Ang who invited me along.  These shows tend to be located in out of the way places; this time in a couple of tin sheds at the St. Ives Show Ground.

There were so many orchids both in variety and number that one hardly knows where to focus.  I felt disadvantaged by my lack of knowledge but was able to enjoy the displays.

Here is a fraction of the photographs I took.  The setting was as ugly as can be and some of the decorations such as a mini wishing well, red and white toadstools and statue of a  kangaroo detracted from the beauty of the blooms.   Fortunately I can eliminate them from the closeups but they remain in the longer shots.

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Winner despite the inclusion of ugly decorations and white gum leaf shaped labels with red, yellow and blue dots on them.  I had to edit out the dots; they drove me mad.

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This photographer may be trying to block his view of the wishing well and toadstools but maybe he’s just trying to cut the glare.

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Fortunately the camera can seek out the elegant from the gaudy.

 

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The vendors had a great day too but we didn’t buy.  Everything I liked was too expensive.  :(

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One of my favourites: an unusual green and purple 

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Session 12: Chinese Calligraphy for Beginners

Submissions for the exhibition is due in three weeks so it was time to narrow down the pieces for polishing.  Most student brought work that they have worked on for a week or more and the results are varied.  I think those that practiced showed better results.   The more competent students tend to practice less; such is the nature of all human beings.

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The degree of difficulty increases exponentially as the character gets bigger.  Here a late comer put up her offering, freshly written and another student put up an improved version of her piece (top left):

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I think they’re doing well, don’t you?

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Mega Magnolias

It’s another sunny Sunday in Sydney and my friends Ben and Ang took me out to celebrate my birthday, doing my favourite things – visiting nurseries and lunching at Sprout’s.

At Four Seasons Nursery we were treated to a display of the new hybrid magnolias from New Zealand.  The flowers were bigger than our heads!  A bee was burrowing itself inside one of the blooms and after having its fill, it could hardly take off.

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To show the size of those flowers Ben had to lend a hand:  this one made up for its smaller size with a richer colour:

Ang was not to be outdone and got into the act:

The large blooms reminded me of the lotus, ‘floating lotus’ Ben said and he was right.

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We stopped off at Bunnings’ Hardware before lunch.  They have a nursery there too and I bought a punnet of overgrown broadbeans seedlings just for their black and white flowers. They were marked down to 20 cents!

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At Sprouts I ordered the house fritters of feta, kale, chilli and mint served with a cucumber and tomato salad and a yoghurt dressing.  I loved the garnish of micro greens too.

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Delicious!

Ang’s order was equally delicious; I know because we swapped portions of our meals :)

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He had a tabbouli made with kale and quinoa served with chickpea falafel, tahini dressing and a hempseed zaatar.

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Ang and I both attacked Ben’s choice of buckwheat pancakes served with cashew cream, apple and blueberry compote and sweet pistachio dukkah.

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Well satiated, we had to take a walk to help settle our tummies before heading home.  Thank you, A&B for a lovely feast for all our senses.  I am fortunate to have friends like you. I should offer you a bouquet but this one is the size of a bunch of flowers :)

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Here Comes the Sun

We are yearning for spring here Down Under so when I saw the colours in the heart of a sunflower on Arlingwoman’s  blog about the heat that they’ve been enjoying, I was inspired to create my own with scrap yarn and a crochet hook.

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It’s beginning to look like summer :)

What does one do with a wooly sunflower?  Wear it as a beret?  It’s too big for a brooch and too small for a bag so I made a big market bag and decorated it with the sunflower, leaving an opening to stash some cash and keys:

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Session 11 Chinese Calligraphy for Beginners (Part 2)

Yesterday I turned 64.  It was not significant other than that song that kept playing in my head.  Perhaps you know it, perhaps you don’t; it’s not important.   It was just another birthday though I appreciated the calls and emails from friends and being bought lunch.  Two unintended gifts, however, made my day.

One was a poem by Robert Okaji who is writing a poem a day for 30 days.  I’d sponsored and provided him a title with words from a Shakespearean sonnet.  He met the challenge on my birthday with a sonnet of his own.  Bravo and thank you, Bob.

The second was the students’ homework that I was greeted with in class yesterday:

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Photo by Ann Lam

I was humbled by the hard work that the students made on their first attempt at producing pieces for an exhibition.

We examined the pieces as a group and I was touched by the willingness of some students to adjust their layout to fit their work into the A3 frames purchased for us and subsidised by MOSAIC.  Each of them accepted that being a part of a greater thing requires a certain degree of compromise.

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In the weeks to come students will continue to work on their pieces and polish them to the best standard that they can achieve.  Judging by the presentation yesterday, I believe that they will add a touch of class to the MOSAIC arts and craft exhibition in September.

 

 

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Session 11 Chinese Calligraphy for Beginners (Part 1)

To learn the art of beautiful writing:  first, learn to write.  That is, presuming one can already read.  Therein lies the difficulty I face each week.  Half of my class consists of literate Chinese and the other half of my students speak, read and write in various other languages.

We are preparing for an exhibition one month away.  I have asked the students to present two pieces of artwork each: the first of their own choosing in A3, Ou Style with the theme of “Spring”.  The second must be a line from the set project, a Tang Dynasty poem.

Last week I asked the students to let the class know of the characters they’d chosen and they came up with some surprising proposals.  One plucked two characters from the poem that made no sense on their own, and one asked if she could write eight characters when each line of the poem consists of seven characters.

This reminds me of some amusing sightings of Chinese characters being misused:  Chinese calligraphy hung sideways or upside down in expensive decorators magazines, tattoos that proclaim the wearers as idiots (as well as being illiterate) but the most amusing was of a woman who walks the streets of China with the word 雞 on her T-shirt.

This image went viral on the internet in China some years ago:  a big blond-coloured hair woman strutting about with her chest stuck out and emblazoned with a word that no doubt she believes says that she was born in the Year of the Rooster.  In fact the word had the connotation of ‘hooker/prostitute’ in Chinese.  Of all the animal signs in China the only one I would wear on my T shirt would be 龍 so if you were not born in the year of the Dragon, think.

Chinese words/characters have evolved over thousands of years; you can almost say they are organic beings.  They are alive, they change and they continue to transform.  In fact the Chinese characters for calligraphy is 書法 shūfǎ - 書shū meaning ‘to write’ and though 法fǎ is commonly translated as ‘method’, I prefer to think of  法fǎ as ‘transformation’.  The art of magic in Chinese is fǎshù 法術。

The calligraphy strokes such as héng 橫, shù 豎 piě 撇 nà 捺 are like your a, b, c, d but they go their own ways.  Unlike the English alphabets in a set script that rise and fall at the same exact angle, rounds the same curves and never change their shapes, all Chinese strokes have infinite variations.  We celebrate diversity rather than conformity or uniformity.

Like the toad who looks at the sky from the bottom of the well, one may assume that such is the size of the universe.  The study of Chinese Calligraphy may change that view, even if you do it at the bottom of the well.

Thinking of fǎ 法 as ‘the way’ would help the student understand that there is not one fixed method to Chinese Calligraphy, just as most words carries more than one meaning.  There is the discipline of learning the ‘how to write’, i.e. the use of tools and the way of making shapes but then one must understand ‘the way’ – fǎ法:the character that belongs to the radical (word family) of water, represented here as the three ‘dots’ at the left of the character, and the qù 去 on the right side of 法 means ‘to go’.  The way of the water transforms its shape, be it a drop, a stream, a torrent or still.

Calligraphy is the art of beautiful writing, not merely pretty strokes.  Writing speaks – beware of what it says.

Tomorrow we will see what the students bring.

(to be continued)

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All Creatures Great and Small

I must share Steve’s photos. They never fail to lift my spirit, If only I have his eyes (and maybe his cameras). The quotes he inserts into his photo journals show such insight.

Steve McCurry's Blog

THAILAND-10033 Thailand

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful:
The Lord God made them all
-Cecil Frances, 1848

BURMA-10129 Burma/Myanmar

Nature’s great masterpiece, an elephant …
– John Donne

00131_04; Tibet; 2000; TIBET-10976 Tibet

India

BANGLADESH-10008 Bangladesh

Cows are amongst the gentlest of breathing creatures;
none show more passionate tenderness to their
young when deprived of them; and, in short,
I am not ashamed to profess a deep
love for these quiet creatures.
-Thomas de Quincey

INDIA-10211 India

Do not free the camel of the burden of his hump;
you may be freeing him from being a camel.
-Gilbert K. Chesterton

INDIA-10580 Rajasthan, India

PARAGUAY-10012NF Paraguay

 Where in this wide world can man find nobility without pride,
Friendship without envy,
Or beauty without vanity?
Here, where grace is served with muscle
And strength by gentleness confined
He serves without servility; he has fought without enmity.
There is nothing so powerful, nothing less…

View original post 219 more words

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Session 10: Chinese Calligraphy for Beginners

MOSAIC, the organisation that hosts my Chinese calligraphy course, has invited submissions from all their creative art and craft classes to exhibit students’ work at a exhibition to be mounted in September.

The last time one of my classes exhibited their work was in 2013.  It was a good hang though the works were all reproductions that were reduced (from A3 to A4) to fit the exhibition space.

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My students’ exhibition from 2013.  It was a composite class and students range from those with three to twenty sessions of tuition.

This time I have requested and was promised adequate space for students to display their original work in A3 frames.  I proposed the project to my students last week and they have all committed to producing one piece of calligraphy each for the exhibition.

My students have been working on a 28-word poem.  So far only two out of ten of them have achieved anything near presentable and those were outside of the A3 restrictions, so all students will have to design new projects for this exhibition.  Due by 6 September.

All works must fit into an A3 frame, written in standard script in the Ou style with the theme of “Spring”.

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It’s a shame that these students’ efforts will not be displayed.  However, one of them has accepted the challenge of writing one of the words in the poem in A3 format.  See below.

 

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Landscape of an Artist’s Being

Were they streams of thoughts or a series of dreamscapes?

Today I visited an exhibition of artist/poet Johanna Ng’s work at Kinokuniya bookstore’s Wedge Gallery.  Like rushing streams, like craggy mountains, like floating lilies, and like so many familiar motifs impossible to catch and pin down,  these are an artist’s subconscious brush strokes that express what we Chinese say,  只可意會,不可言傳,things that can only be perceived but cannot be conveyed in so many words.

Tune in to the images and perhaps you will know the artist, or something of yourself.

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The exhibition is on in Sydney until next Tuesday 2 August, 2016.

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