People as Monkeys: a poem translated into sign language

Enjoy the translation of the poem "People as Monkeys" originally written by Raigu Ryokan (1758-1831) into American Sign Language (ASL).

I watch people in the world
Throw away their lives lusting after things,
Never able to satisfy their desires,
Falling into deeper despair
And torturing themselves.
Even if they get what they want
How long will they be able to enjoy it?
For one heavenly pleasure
They suffer ten torments of hell,
Binding themselves more firmly to the grindstone.
Such people are like monkeys
Frantically grasping for the moon in the water
And then falling into a whirlpool.
How endlessly those caught up in the floating world suffer.
Despite myself, I fret over them all night
And cannot staunch my flow of tears.

Poem by Taigu Ryokan (1758-1831), written in 1800.
Translated by John Stevens (English). Translated (ASL) by Jolanta Lapiak.

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"The poem was written over 200 years ago but it's more relevant to the present time than back then!"

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This documentation project follows a baby's language acquisition, literacy development, and phonological acquisition in sign language, specifically ASL, week by week from gazing at birth to manual babbling, to first words just before the first birthday in a natural native-ASL environment and visual culture.

The second-year documentation continues to follow the same one-year-old child's language and phonological acquisition and literacy development in ASL on a weekly basis from the one-word stage to two-word and multiple utterances.

The third year documentation continues to follow the same child's ASL language and literacy development on a regular basis from age two to three. It surveys ASL phonological acquisition and more complex utterances.

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This five-year documentation and project follows the bilingual child's natural language acquisition in sign language from newborn to age five.