Szymborska is shining on new horizons: Mandarin popular singer Hebe Tien recites Polish verse in her new hit single.
Hebe Tien,photo from press materials
The young Taiwanese idol was born in 1983, and her career was launched in 2000 when she was chosen among thousands of participants in a Taiwanese music competition. She is currently one of the most sought after stars of ‘mandopop’, or mandarin popular music. The latter style is heard all over Taiwan and China, but also in Malaysia, Singapour, and also in the United States, Canada and Australia, all of which have an important Chinese diaspora.
This November, her new single came out; entitled Insignificance, it was inspired by Szymborska’s poem Under One Small Star. The Mandarin lyrics are an adaptation of the verse, and at 4:54 Hebe starts reciting in Polish the following lines:
Prawdo, nie zwracaj na mnie zbyt bacznej uwagi.
Powago, okaż mi wspaniałomyślność.
Ścierp, tajemnico bytu, że nie mogę być wszędzie.
(Truth, please don't pay me much attention.
Dignity, please be magnanimous.
Bear with me, O mystery of existence, as I pluck the occasional thread from your train.)
Hebe Tien is also a member of S.H. E., a rainbow-colored, candy-themed pop band oriented towards teenage trends. In this solo performance, Hebe shows a more mature and profound aspect of her creativity.
Literary critic and former secretary of Wisława Szymborska Michał Rusinek commented on the song on his blog:
This is a traveler-poem, a poem that doesn’t require footnotes, a universal poem, understandable virtually everywhere. Someone will perhaps think that using serious such a serious poem, high culture poem in a pop song is profanation. I believe that it speaks well of Hebe that she chose a Nobelist’s poem. Secondly, I think it may lead to more people wanting to read her poems (selected poems have recently been published in Taiwan).
Hebe Tien’s single came out on November 13, and on November 25th Adam Zagajewski was awarded the Zhongkun prize – commonly called the Chinese Poetry Nobel. Both events signal a growing interest for Polish poetry in China and Taiwan, indicating that the two regions may have discovered a common artistic sensibility.
Sources: Rzeczpospolita, canal S.H.E., translated by LB 02/12/2013