Chen-ou Liu's Translation Project: First English-Chinese Haiku and Tanka Blog

Friday, July 7, 2023

The Quietest Place Tanka

No More Fairy Tales, XIII

an explorer
once murmured, the quietest place
I've ever been ...
wind-sculpted ice cliffs, sperm whales
penguins -- and now cruise ships

FYI: Ls 2&3 are the remark made by the famed Norwegian explorer, Erling Kagge (Flow, Dec. 20, 2020: "Erling Kagge: The Famed Norwegian Explorer on Silence, Philosoph, and Summiting Everest")

And The Atlantic, July 3 2023: "The Last Place on Earth Any Tourist Should Go."

Traveling to Antarctica is a carbon-intensive activity. Flights and cruises must cross thousands of miles in extreme conditions, contributing to the climate change that is causing ice loss and threatening whales, seals, and penguins. By one estimate, the carbon footprint for a person’s Antarctic cruise can be roughly equivalent to the average European’s output for a year, because cruise ships are heavy polluters and tourists have to fly so far. 

This tanka is a sequel to the following one I wrote about the Arctic region:

this world of reduction: 
of fingers lost to frostbite
of lives lost to depression ...
in the morning sunshine
another polar bear drifts off

AddedNo More Fairy Tales, XIV

a massive chunk
of Greenland's ice cap
has broken off ...
her silence sets the tone
for our talk going nowhere

Addedreading between the lives and writing between the lines, LXXII

Freedom Isn't Free

in morning breeze
it takes the chimp minutes
to step outside
of its decades-old cage ...
this sky with no metal bars

gazing for hours
up at this endless blue
the freed chimp
at the edge of the refuge
now the center of its world

FYI: The title is taken from Paul Colwell's song of the same name:

Freedom isn’t free! Freedom isn’t free!
You’ve got to pay a price,
You’ve got to sacrifice
For your liberty.

Freedom is a word often heard today,
But if you want to keep it there’s a price to pay.
Each generation’s got to win it anew,
‘Cause it’s not something handed down to you.

Freedom isn’t free! … etc.

There was a gen’ral by the name of George,
With a small band of men at Valley Forge,
Left the comfort of home for the snow and ice,
They won independence ’cause they paid the price.

Freedom isn’t free! … etc.

For some people freedom is a waving flag,
To do your own thing is another man’s bag,
But for ev’ry man freedom’s the eternal quest.
You’re free to give humanity your very best.

Freedom isn’t free! … etc.