The Purification Festival in April

The sun has started above the April hill
started earlier than in previous centuries
when the ocean has yet to stir
earlier than the memories of the ceremony elders.

Earlier. The sun has started
riding on the dancing master Ka-ing’s rattan switch
waking up the baranung drum still covered in dust on the ceiling beam
rousing the crowing of two cocks waiting one last night until their sacrifice

Quicker. I see the sunlight breaking
under the footsteps of the shaman hurrying down the hill
even faster. I see the sunlight spreading
not leaving time for the dewdrops to linger in sleep
the sunlight encircles the hair of girls heading down the river to fetch water, the woods,
the scene, the dress colors, the calls to return to the village
build up kajang constructions for the ceremony
the sunlight has even flooded the mutham scarf of the female dancer
flying through 365 days of contamination of the world

The purification ceremony is starting

The same day the same month of a thousand years ago
The same worries, devotion, anticipation
only the repetition is present
the same book of liturgy, worship chants will be sung.

The fire is blazing red
red the pomegranates bought yesterday at the market red the flame tree flowers
newly picked red the summer sun
red the dress of the shaman
the fire has burned into the nooks and crannies of every waiting soul
the candles are alit the candles are burning at midday
before the kajang – the fire is blazing red.

He sees
He raises the cane high / high above the centuries past
He whips down two feet / two feet dormant since the previous reign
feet that in 365 days only learned how to tread along the furrows
feet that yesterday danced sluggishly to Cei Dalim, Cei Tathun’s rhythms
feet that are about to be hardened

The purification festival is starting
sound of the shaman’s praying, sound of the baranung
and yet not enough – liturgical prayers
are not enough for his pleasure

Our supply store is full of words – words worn and dull
full of words / there are no words to sing of delight, of pleasure
one word rose up to the top of the fire
to keep pace with the purification festival.

There are no more words to call. He screams out. All the words fold
their wings and slip away
only his scream floods the empty world

He screams out
his scream reverberates reaching a herd of buffaloes grazing on a faraway hill,
straining to listen
souls unjustly forgotten for a thousand years, sit up from ashes and coals
flocks of birds startled, hurriedly fly out and back
as if afraid of losing the joy of purification

He has seen
the door of the heavens open, opening like the arms of his wife of a previous lifetime
the monsoon clouds return, returning like the flying crop of hair of his son of a
future lifetime
He spreads out his arms
He steps forward, setting down feet that in previous days were coated with mud
regardless of the fires crackling with the sounds of hands clapping ahei crackling
regardless of the ginang drums suddenly beating, driving away the fears
He transforms into fire he dances with fire he is fire
cleaned for the last time / cleaned for a thousand thousand times
so that the whole world may be cleaned one time. As it is!

Quick. Quicker
smoke rises into clouds, the human face shrouded in clouds hair of a thousand clouds, all of the cosmos blocked in colossal columns of clouds
all crumbling, crashing down and about to throw down a rainstorm.

Broken the purification festival. He sees
the earth breaking, the sky, the sounds of chants
breaking the anticipated pleasures kept hidden.

Life is no longer postponed, no longer delayed
quick, quicker
but slow, too slow as if unable to be slower. He sees
the language of the chants of worship overflows into millions millions
of cells alive or dead
overflows and shakes them up never let them sleep anymore
the millions millions of sprouts are craning to raise their shoulders and lift their heads up.

Steps stamping more robustly. I see – more clearly
the world broken up and re-assembled through rapid breathing
the fire on its last gasp.

He is thrown out of the fire – his body covered with injuries
all the world injured – only the smile untouched
the joy untouched
millions millions of water drops fly down to extinguish a surviving spark
trying to flicker one last time
extinguish misery, hopelessness on the faces. I see.

Beyond the joy
Their intact resilience has taken root.

Bis bis, wok wok
once more ours
once more once more life.

Translated by Chương Đài

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One thought on “The Purification Festival in April

  1. Lễ tẩy trần tháng Tư của anh Inrasara đúng là tập thơ chất lượng rất cao. Tôi không thích bản tiếng Anh lắm, nhưng dịch như vậy là khá rồi. Trong đó có vài bài thơ dịch rất đắc.
    Tập thơ có giải thưởng Hội Nhà văn VN là chuyện nhỏ (dù đây là lần thứ 2 anh Inrasara đoạt giải này, điều hiếm có) sau đó là Giải thưởng Đông Nam Á. Nhưng tôi muốn nhấn mạnh về tầm quan trọng của nó về thi pháp, điều ít ai chú ý.
    Tôi có nghe thông tin về 6 luận văn Thạc sĩ về Inrasara và 2 Luận án TS nữa, không biết có ông giáo sư hướng dẫn nào để ý đến điều quan trọng này chưa. Bởi vì tôi chưa đọc các luận án kia.
    Chúc anh Inrasara nhiều sức khỏe để sáng tạo nhiều tác phẩm lớn hơn nữa.

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