We are pleased to publish Platinum City, a long (1000+ words) visionary poem by Chinese poet Yuan Hongri, translated by his Indian collaborator, Manu Mangattu.
By Yuan Hongri
Translated by Manu Mangattu
Ah! With iridescent light of gems of time
The heavenly road you pave!
In the kingdom of stars
I found my home.
In that city of gold
I opened the gate to the sun,
To behold the godly giants.
At the royal palace of the jewel,
I read of prehistoric wonders
In an enormous, gorgeous ancient book.
With my eyes I saw
The golden words that John carved,
A wondrous strange mystery tale.
Into a full new world I went,
To witness the seat of the holy kingdom
Even before the earth was born –
The original home of human history.
< – >
Across time and space in crystalline glitter
Stands at this very moment a platinum city –
A ship leisurely drifting, like a bird,
Resplendent in variegated hues.
In the crystal garden I saw
A crowd of youthful giants,
Their eyes were bright and glittering
In the aura of the body’s sparkle.
They sang happy songs,
They danced a wonderful dance,
Lanky boys and girls in pairs,
As if to celebrate the splendid carnival.
I saw a circular edifice
High above the city
Giving out a white light –
Raised ground to fly into the quiet space.
The framework of a platinum edifice,
Creating a beautiful pattern.
The whole city is a circle,
All perfectly arranged into its noble structure.
Into a bright hall I went,
And saw there a strange instrument;
A huge screen hanging on the wall,
Displaying a golden space.
Like fragments of colourful crystal gemstones,
Resplendent with variegated colours of the city,
Those beautiful high-rise buildings,
A sight finer than any myth of this world.
I saw lines of strange letters.
On one side of the screen flashed swiftly
Numerous youthful, beautiful giants –
An effort to concentrate on the ever-changing images.
Their look is quiet and peaceful;
The flame of learning flashes in their eyes.
Then in a swirl of garments,
The next figure appears.
Their stature, superhumanly tall;
Each one is well-nigh seven meters high.
Both men and women equally dignified,
And without apparent age differences.
Their skin is white as snow
With a faint flashing shine;
Bright eyes as naïve as an infant’s,
Kindled with a strange flame.
They manipulate the magic of the instrument,
A picture of the changing space.
Their language is artless and plain,
With the modulation of a pleasant-sounding bell.
As I survey the length and breadth of the bright hall
I feel a powerful energy;
Body and mind suffused with bliss and delight,
As if I too am a giant.
I seem to understand their language.
They are exploring the mysteries of the universe.
As though the city is the double of a planet,
Peopled with the citizens’ doubles, their partners.
They manipulate the instrument with their minds,
Which can be used to transfer data
thousands of miles away,
Or to talk completely open-heartedly.
A mere line of text on the screen
Can communicate a world.
The whole universe is their home.
They build cities in space.
They use space shuttles
To transport you to far-distant other spaces.
A lightning flash and in an instant
You vanish into thin air, without a trace.
I feel a new civilization.
They have magical eyes;
They seem to be able to see the future;
They can enter other times and spaces.
Men and women are holy and loving,
Superior to our world’s so-called love.
They don’t seem to understand ageing.
Neither do they know about war.
Time seems not to exist.
Science has become wonderful art.
Their happiness comes from the creation of
A universe full of divine love.
I saw a young giant
Opening the door of a platinum space,
A round, magnificent hall,
Packed with rows of men and women.
I saw a crystal stage
Gyrating at the center of the hall,
Where a dignified, beautiful girl
Was playing a huge musical instrument.
A sheaf of golden rays,
Shifting with all kinds of brilliant graphics;
A mysterious and beautiful music,
Like the leisurely song of a dragon.
Thence I saw an enormous giant
Jump out of the dancing lights onto the stage.
His hands held a huge ball
Which flashed with many bright colours.
I saw a group of young girls
Wearing white dresses,
They seemed to fly lightly
Like a giant crane.
The huge circular hall was resplendent
With clear, transparent decorations,
Like a huge set of gems,
Scintillating brilliantly in the light.
I saw a young singer
About the golden flame,
The sound was very striking,
The singling like a strange chanting.
Their music is at once mysterious and blissful,
shifting ceaslessly like the lightning,
As if a planet of the universe,
Shining brightly in a shining space.
The crystal city, aloft in space,
Looks resplendent, magnificent;
Countless wonderful golden flowers
Bloom and blush in that flawless space.
I saw an image of a transparent smiling face,
As if it were a colourful garden,
The golden light from the sky
Turned it into a city of gold.
I strode out of the circular hall
And came to a wide street with a smooth pavement,
Covered with precious stones,
Aligned with the platinum edifice.
There are no terrestrial trees here,
But there are others in full bloom,
Sparkling with rich incense,
Forming a garden in the middle of the street.
Strange flowers grew there too,
Their leaves as transparent crystal,
Flashing all kinds of brilliant colours –
And bunches of round golden fruit.
I saw a huge statue;
It was like a spaceship,
Clustered around by shining stars,
High above the middle of the street.
I saw the column of a dazzling fountain
In a huge circle in the square,
With an elegantly modelled statue
portraying a holy giant.
A soaring magnificent edifice
Ran round the circle-square.
There were garden villas;
There was a white steeple.
I saw a wide river
Girdling this huge city.
The riverbed flashed with transparent gold dust,
Amidst which were scattered brilliant gems.
Tall trees planted along each shore
Formed a long crystal corridor,
And big multi-coloured birds – in one group thirty-five! –
Floated on the surface of the water.
I saw a vast forest –
Swaying trees, trees of gold,
trees with towering canopies,
And amongst them some sort of platinum pavilion.
I saw giants walking on the paths,
Athletes both male and female,
At the water’s brink or in the forest,
Like birds, carefree and relaxed.
An ideal space as bright as crystal
Embraced this platinum city;
A giant, brilliant light-sphere,
Flashing boundless light into the air.
It resembled a huge sun
or a man-made planet.
The whole city was shining too,
Weaving a rare breed of magic.
A strange train sped, circling,
About the city back and forth.
There seemed to be some kind of track in the sky,
There there were seated bodies of white buildings
In a dreamlike maze –
This huge wonderous island of the city.
I could not even hear the sound of the wind.
I bade goodbye to the platinum city.
Nearby in a golden space
Stands another city –
A vast city of gold.
The buildings there are also huge,
But it it another beautiful shape.
The whole city is a glittering,
Golden edifice as beautiful as sculpture.
Here there live other giants –
As if from another nation.
They have boundless wisdom.
A golden, holy civilization.
By Yuan Hongri
Translated by Manu Mangattu
Yuan Hongri, born in China in 1962, is a poet and philosopher interested particularly in the theme of creation. Representative works include Platinum City, Gold City, Golden Paradise, Gold Sun and Golden Giant.
Manu Mangattu (translator) is Assistant Professor, Department of English, St George’s College Aruvithura, India.
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