Blossoms and Children: a translation in ASL

Poem by Ryokan
from Dewdrops on a Lotus Leaf: Zen Poems of Ryokan, translated by John Stevens. Published by Shambala in Boston, 1996.

For Children Killed in a Smallpox Epidemic

ASL translated by Jolanta Lapiak.

English version

When spring arrives
From every tree tip
Flowers will bloom,
But those children
Who fell with last autumn's leaves
Will never return.

Poem by Ryokan
from Dewdrops on a Lotus Leaf: Zen Poems of Ryokan, translated by John Stevens. Published by Shambala in Boston, 1996.

ASL translated by Jolanta Lapiak.

Interpretation

Language interpretation may be a difficult, though an interesting process. Rhymes or any other elements may be lost from one language to another in the translation process, or may even be created in a poem of one language from the origin of a language.

In this process, I attempted to preserve a symmetry of the poem. Below shows a few poetic elements.

spring will come... in the beginning of the poem.

... and children never come at the end of the poem. These opening and closing parts are the opposite, creating a sense of balance. But, the handshape in the parts will come and never come are similar (handshape ryhme).

The ASL word but between these two parts of the poem also creates a sense of symmetrical balance of the two parts. In addition, the signed but itself is also symmetrical.

This illustrates a blend of the signing falling leaf and dead. It is an example of the transformation of these ASL words.

Comments

"That is beautiful and heartbreaking. You signed it so beautifully and I understood it all. You are truly an artist." -- H., Dec. 2019.

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