以詩詞與癌病作戰

Battling Cancer with Poetry

E. C. Chang 

In 2008, my life took an unexpected turn. Suddenly I found myself having to face a life-and-death situation: I was diagnosed with colon cancer. The news came to me more as puzzlement than a shock. I walked almost daily and had practiced healthy living for a long time. Yet, the fact remained that the cancer was real and aggressive enough to threaten my very existence.

     For the next ten months, I had to undergo surgery and chemotherapy. Naturally I had to muster all my strength fighting against this deadly disease.

     To get my feelings out, I had written more than thirty poems about my battle with cancer just before and after the surgery. However, I was unable, both physically and mentally, to write anything during the last six months of chemotherapy. My desire to write was also thwarted by my inability to walk outdoors regularly. (A great majority of my poems (in Chinese) were conceptualized and mentally composed during daily walks in my neighborhood). Although I didn’t write a single poem in six months, I found it therapeutic to read my own poems, especially those that reflected my feelings and attitudes toward life in general and cancer in particular.

     Now, four years later, I can say that I am in good health. If by chance you have a friend who is facing this deadly disease, please encourage him or her to read some of my poems or my English translations. As a cancer survivor, I know most cancer patients are eager to find out the coping strategies used by other sufferers.


五載浮沉

張暢繁

浮沉已過五春秋。 暴雨狂風不再愁。
賤體仍難登峻嶺 ,凡心尚可倣飛鷗。
虛懷認命消災禍, 諒己容人少怨尤。
他日若隨雲鶴去, 無需為我淚雙流。


The Mind of a Cancer Survivor

As a cancer survivor, I am blessed to
Have extended my life to five full years.
Strong winds and rains will no longer
Burden me with worries and fears.
My damaged body does keep me from
Reaching the top of a high mountain.
But my mind can still wander around
Like a sea gull flying over the ocean.
Accepting fate and emptying mundane desires
Lessen the impact of disastrous events.
With forgiveness and tolerance,
I have now fewer grudges and complaints.
When the time comes for me to vanish
With the clouds and cranes,
Do not shed your tears, my dear,
For I have no regret but gratitude to proclaim.


面臨癌症

面臨癌症勿心灰。保命尤應笑語陪。

順境隨緣消痛楚,恨天怨地倍衰頹。

情懷抑鬱培千惡,意態從容減百哀。

生死存亡誰可料,向前邁步出冰台。

Facing Cancer


Facing the threat of cancer,
don’t give up in despair.
To fight for your life, you need laughter,
not tears.
Pain can be reduced by accepting the fact
and following the flow.
By blaming heaven and earth, despondence
can increase even more so.
Depressed feelings can help evil cells to spread.
An attitude of acceptance can diminish
the impact of stress.
The eventuality of life and death
is not up to us to decide.
But we can walk in stride
out of the terrace of ice.





卜算子   暮雨

暮雨遣殘雲,地濕風仍冷。聽盡啼鴉不見春,燕雁無蹤影。 葉落總歸根,天理心能領。著日袈裟念日經,路斷息馳騁。


The Evening Rain
(Tune: Divination)

The last few clouds were dispelled
by the rain at dusk.
The wind remained cold
and the ground was wet.
The crows kept cawing, but spring
could not be brought back.
Swallows and swan geese are still not there.

Fallen leaves will always return to their roots.
I can surely understand this universal truth.
I should learn from the Buddhist monk
that whenever he wears his cassock,
he must daily read the Sutras.
Even if I reach the dead end,
I shall face it head on until I am through.

追尋

暉斜風勁倚層樓。目極孤帆順水流。

美夢難圓常惹恨,名山未涉每牽愁。

蓬萊不及留鴻爪,大漠何曾踏綠洲。

欲望無窮時有限,自應安靜少苛求。

Searching for Beautiful Dreams

The wind hurries; the sun
is on its way to set.
Leaning on a high tower,
I look deep and far.
A lone sailboat floats
down on the water.
A dream unfulfilled often incites regret.
The thought of not visiting those famous
mountains makes me sad.
Can my footprints still be left
on Penglai’s* enchanted hill?.
Will I still have time to set foot in the
oasis of a great desert?
There is too little time for so many desires.
Shouldn’t I just lower my expectations
and calm my mind?

*Penglai is a Chinese fairyland.


生死之間

一世塵緣散若煙。夢魂中斷浪翻船。

晴天霹靂驚狂雨,病毒頻盈蝕晚年。

離合悲歡情意系,窮通禍福命途牽。

油乾燈燼除哀樂,永歇雲山伴土眠。

Between Life and Death

A lifetime of predestined relationships
will vanish like smoke.
When a boat is overturned by billows,
dreams and consciousness
can be abruptly interrupted.
A torrential rain can come right after
a bolt from the blue.
The elderly are the frequent targets
of invasive viruses.
Deep affection gives rise to feelings
of joy in reunion and sorrow in parting.
Fate plays a role in whether we are fortunate or
less fortunate, rich or poor.
When my final day has come, no longer
will I be able to feel sad or happy.
I will be content to permanently rest
on a cloudy mountain, surrounded by loess.


缺憾

何人無憾玉無疵。逾百生年戚友離。

蔽日瓊樓遺舊跡,凌雲壯志變游絲。

山珍海味侵腸胃,月貌花容失采儀。

理得心安貧亦樂,不求完美少傷悲。

Imperfect

Who doesn’t have regrets?
Which piece of jade stone doesn’t
have some defects?
Relatives and friends might have already parted even if we could break a century mark.
What was once a magnificent building
now is left with nothing but ruins.
Once a soaring ambition it has now
become a silk thread, drifting and broken.
A sumptuous repast can be bad
for the stomach and intestines.
A fair lady, whose beauty is compared to
a flower and the moon, may show
a lack of grace and elegance.
One who is at ease in his mind
can be happy even in poverty.
By not demanding perfection, one will be
less likely to feel sad and guilty.

癌症

暴雨逐殘霞。狂風掃落花。

突然天地變,剎那路途斜。

病毒攻腸腹,身心套鎖枷。

胸中無怨懟,陰鬱見光華。

Cancer

The fading clouds are chased
by the torrential rain.
The fallen flowers are swept
by the violent wind.
The sky and earth change suddenly.
The road collapses momentarily.
Cancer cells invade my abdomen and intestines.
My body and mind are held in spiritual shackles.
If I can be free from rancor at heart,
I will see the bright side even at dark.


前路

前路覺茫茫。延伸到那方。

存亡難預料,禍福怎能量。

命運憑誰改,癌魔靠己防。

心中常有愛,應變不驚慌。

The Road Ahead

The road ahead is very vague.
Which direction shall I take?
I cannot be certain if I will live.
Whether the outcome turns out to be
good or bad is beyond me.
Who else but myself can
change my own fate?
I must not let cancer have its way.
When there is love to be shared,
I can face adversity without fear.



認命

日常瑣事頗嫌頻。老体違和總有因。

生活悠閒心亦曠,安居豁達苦能呻。

郊游漫步吾偏愛,健食茹蔬我認真。

頑疾既來須順應,化療六月最傷神。

Accepting Fate

The presence of trivial things in life
can be quite frequent.
There must be causes for a disease
occurring to an aging person.
My mind is at ease, and my life is carefree.
Living happily, any unpleasant feeling
can find a way of release.
I enjoy walking and sightseeing.
I eat vegetables and practice healthy living.
I must now face and accept this
hard-to-treat disease.
Six months of chemotherapy can take a
physical and mental toll on me.

*It turned out that I had a family history of this type of cancer, of which I became aware only months after surgery.

靜海生波,殘雲盡散,狂風驟雨,四方上下,極度摧殘。芳草依然勁立,青松依舊強頑。待晴時,把園修補,扶起重攀。使花枝更燦,秀色斑斕。

Facing Adversity

Turbulence suddenly arises in the quiet sea.
Clouds have vanished without a trace.
A violent storm howls wildly from all sides.
The power of destruction is shown
in front of my own eyes.
The grasses still stand
without yielding.
The green pines remain
strong without falling.
On a clear day, I will pick up all broken
pieces in the garden.
I will provide support for the branches
that are weak and fallen.
Let the flowers grow even more beautifully.
Let the colors shine even more resplendently. 

 

心靈難靜病囂張。不吉流年日覺長。

欲把愁絲藏屋角,偏逢暴雨浥東牆。

人間禍害無窮盡,路徑崎嶇不可量。

盡力而為應坦蕩,苦中求樂利療傷。

In Convalescence

When the disease is so rampant,
how can the mind be calm?
In times of ill luck, the days
seem much longer.
I wish to hide the worries behind
the corner of my eaves.
But the torrential rain has moistened
the wall to the east.
In the human world, disasters
will never stop striking.
The steepness of a road is
not always subject to measuring.
All I can do is to be confident and composed.
To find enjoyment in adversity
will help heal the wound.



臨江仙

手術前有感

歲月無停時序續,南回百鳥鳴春。朝陽普照葉枝新。薰風添鬥志,清氣倍提神。 花落花開天定律,而今頑疾纏身。要憑手術絕延伸。心中能順應,處變不眉顰。

Before Surgery

(Tune: The Immortal at the Sea)

Time never stops running.
Seasons will never change their order.
Hundreds of birds are back to greet spring.
Upon the new leaves and branches
the morning sun shines.
The gentle breeze strengthens
my will to fight.
The fresh air keeps my spirit high.
The blooming and falling of flowers
is the universal truth.
I now must cope with this deadly disease
with all my tools.
Surgical procedure must be done to stop
cancer cells from spreading.
My mind is equipped to adapt.
I shall not knit my brows to face the fact.

臨江仙      麻醉手術

凶吉安危難自料,虛空靜寂無形。全身麻醉意無憑。半天如一秒,劇變不知情。 除卻腸中癌惡腫,須經手術才行。醒來再度聽人聲。病房光亮處,老伴笑相迎。

Surgical Operation under Anesthesia

(Tune: The Immortal at the Sea)

I could not be certain
there wouldn’t be any complications.
As I was under general anesthesia,
my consciousness had left me.
I entered a state of emptiness,
quietness, and no visibility.
Half a day felt like
just one second.
I could not feel or sense a thing
during the operation.
Surgery must be done
to remove a tumor in my colon.
Suddenly a human voice was heard
as I awoke.
I saw the light in the room and the
smiling face of my old companion.



四川大地震感怀

五月十二日,四川大地震時,余正在醫院做割腸手術后療傷。

痛楚肢軀困病床。完成手術待療傷。

汶川地震傳瑩幕,天府山崩撼綴腸。

剎那生靈埋瓦礫,突然書館化墳場。

人間劇變誰能料,惜取春花瓣上香。


The Big Earthquake in Sichuan While I was lying on the sickbed


I was lying on the sickbed
feeling pain over my body everywhere.
I needed time to recuperate after surgery.
I saw on TV the earthquake
pictures from Wenchuan.
My newly reconnected colon was shaken
by mountains collapsing in Sichuan.
Numerous people were buried in
rubble in a matter of a few seconds.
Schools suddenly became the
graveyards for their students.
Who could foresee such tragedies
and disasters in life?
Shouldn’t I appreciate the fact that I can still smell the fragrance of spring flowers?

遭遇

濕去林清爽,天高氣色新。

療程應有效,癌細已難伸。

老邁身招患,年輕疾避人。

公平誰定奪,遭遇本無因。

Encountering Misfortune

With humidity back to normal,
I feel refreshed in the grove.
The sky seems higher,
and the colors look brighter.
The treatment approach appears to be working.
Cancer cells seem to have stopped spreading.
An aging body itself invites bacteria and viruses.
Diseases tend to avoid entering the young bodies.
Who decides fairness in misfortune?
It may not have a cause and reason.



康復

三月陽春蕾滿枝。水仙黃透燕歸時。

薰風拂動蕭條去,猛藥清除病毒離。

健步重回神更暢,青株再茁夢能依。

一年療治身心倦,生死存亡不自知。

Recovery

In late March, the branches
are full of new buds.
The swallows return;
the yellow daffodils dazzle.
Warm breezes start to drive
away the desolate scene.
The cancer-fighting medicine
seems to have kept my body clean.
I feel fine now to resume my daily walking.
Trees will be vibrant again.
I can continue to dream.
A year of therapy has made me both
physically and mentally tired.
I didn’t know then if I could survive.


面對人生

浮生若夢付華年。利祿聲名幻似煙。

換骨移心人總老,避凶趨吉禍仍延。

經途險峻持堅忍,處境危艱順自然。

執著放開情意溢,幾番風雨見藍天。

Facing Life’s Challenges

Life is like a dream.
Gone are youthful years of hope and dreams.
Mists are illusory, so are wealth, high
position, and fame.
Bone and heart transplantation can
hardly slow the process of aging.
A calamity can still find its way despite
our best efforts to prevent it from occurring.
Forbearance and persistence are needed
to pass through the dangerous path.
In adversity, letting nature take its course
may be our best bet.
We should free ourselves from fixation,
let our feelings and ideas fly.
Having weathered the storm,
we again will see the blue sky.

Feedback:    ecfchang@poetry-chinese.com