Saturday, October 15, 2016

Jakdan and the Jurchen Poet

The twelfth poem in Jakdan's second fascicle is titled Dui jing 對鏡, and the original author was a Jurchen named Wanyan Shou 完顏璹. Interestingly, rather than giving a simple transliteration of the author's clan name, Jakdan renders Wanyan as Wanggiyan. Given the ancestral relationship between the Jurchens and the Manchus, I can't help but feel that Jakdan is giving us what he feels is a more authentic version of the name.

The poem is in two quatrains. The Chinese has seven syllables per line with an AABA rhyme scheme, the Manchu has seven words per line with the same rhyme scheme.

鏡中色相類吾深  buleku-i dorgi dursun arbun minde dursuki yala,
吾面終難鏡里尋  mini dere jiduji buleku-i dorgide bairengge mangga,
明月印空空受月  genggiyen biyai yondoho untuhun untuhun-i baktaka biya,
是他空月本無心  tenteke untuhun biya ineku mujilen akū mujangga.

明明非淺亦非深  iletusaka micihiyan waka seci inu šumin waka,
何事癡人泥影尋  niyalma tome helmen memereme bairengge ai hala,
照見大千真法體  gubci jalan-i unenggi šajingga beyebe bulekušeme tuyembuhengge,
不闗形相不闗心  arbun cira ai dalji mujilen wei guwanta.

My translation from the Manchu:

The image in the mirror truly resembles me,
But in the end, it is difficult to seek my face in the mirror.
The void holding the bright moon, the moon contained in the void,
Just as with the void and moon, truly this very mind doesn't exist.

Clearly though it may not be shallow, neither is it deep,
Why do people stubbornly seek their reflections?
What is revealed in reflection is the true embodiment of the dharma of the whole world,
What use is form and face? Whose concern is mind?

The poem has a Buddhist theme. The author seeks his face (his Buddha nature) in the mirror (his mind), but finds it difficult to do. He reflects that the face in the mirror is like the moon in the sky, but the sky is really an empty void, and so is the mind.

He seems to suggest that we are misguided to seek our individual reflections in the mirror, because what is reflected is universal, not individual.