Zheng Min 郑敏 poetry translations

The Poetry of Zheng Min


Selections: 1947 – 1995

Zheng Min was born in 1920 in Minhou, Fujian province. Zheng began writing poetry during the War of Resistance against the Japanese while at university in Chongqing during the early 1940s. At the time, she was one of a small number of poets (recently termed the Nine Leaves九叶 poets) experimenting with contemporary western modernist trends in poetry. In 1943, she travelled to the US to study, and, after completing a masters degree at Brown University in 1953, returned to live in China. Political repression and the conservative aesthetic tastes of the CCP regime meant that what little poetry Zheng wrote before the death of Mao and the fall of the Gang of Four in 1976 was not officially published at the time. During much of this period and since, she has been a professor of western literature at Beijing Normal University. Since 1976, Zheng has written much poetry and criticism, and to this day remains as active as her health allows.

1) Golden Sheaves of Rice [金黄的稻束]

2) Washing Feet – A Painting) [濯足一幅画]

3) The Times and Death [时代与死亡]

4) Poverty [贫穷]

5) The Beauty of Life: Suffering * Struggle * Endurance [生的美:痛苦*斗争*忍受]

6) When You're by Me -- O Poetry, I've Found You Again [如有你在我身边诗呵,我又找到了你]

7) Whenever I Walk this Path [每当我走过这条小径]

8) Images of the Heart [心像组诗]

II. The Gate []

III. Yearning: A Male Lion [渴望:一只雄狮]

IV. It []

XIII. The Whale that can not be Seen [看不见的鲸鱼]

9) My Oriental Soul [我的东方灵魂]

IV. Snow, It can't be White [雪,它不能是白色的]

10) The Ghost of a Spring Cocoon [春茧的幽灵]

11) A Small Room [斗室]

12) A False Image [假象]

13) An Appointment [一次约会]

14) Existence that no longer Exists [不再存在的存在]

I. Van Gogh's Pleasure Boat is Gone [凡高的画船不在了]

15) Naked Exposure [裸露]

IX. The Wings of Swans [天鹅的翅膀]

X. Glass Windows [玻璃窗]

16) Heavy Lyrics [沉重的抒情诗]

I. Heavy Lyricism [沉重的抒情]

II. The Rec’ Room [游艺室]

III. Roots []

IV. Looking into the Distance [瞧向远方]

17) Death of a Poet [诗人之死]

I. #1

II. #2

III. #4

IV. #7

V. #9

VI. #10

VII. #11

VIII. #17

IX. #18

X. #19

18) The Gift of Life [生命之赐]

I. Preface: I Say [序言:我说]

II. #1

III. #5

IV. #6

V. #10

VI. #12

19) If Curses aren't Accompanied by Deep Thought [如果咒骂没有带来沉思]

I. Untitled [无题]

IV. If..... Then ..... [假如。。。。。然而。。。。。]

VIII. A Century's Waiting [世纪的等待]

IX. The Forgotten Yesterday (A dirge of an ancient culture) [被遗忘的昨天


Golden Sheaves of Rice [金黄的稻束] 1947

Golden sheaves of rice stand

in the mown fields of autumn

I think of innumerable weary mothers

I saw at dusk on the road: the pretty wrinkled face,

the day's harvest moon full

above towering treetops,

in the twilight, distant mountains

encircle the borders to our hearts,

no statue could be quieter than this.

Shouldering that great weariness, here

you stretch toward a far-off place

in the autumn fields heads are lowered in thought,

hushed. History is merely

a stream flowing away from under your feet,

and you, standing there,

have grown into an idea of mankind.

Washing Feet – A Painting) [濯足一幅画] 1947

A deep forest scoops a trail through her chest

the trail leads to -- ancient tree, hey, circling a pond here

the pond reflects the image of a face, a smile flows from the image

like a still flower sending forth a life of myriad motions

Look over there, the color green floods out from tender leaves

and melts into dull green sunlight, soaking your feet

you dissolve into the forest's cold, dark tranquility, in the dim light

Hey, girl, you wait happily for that other half of yourself.

It's come, a squirrel skipping over a fallen leaf,

it whistles, two birds are whispering,

finally weariness scatters the light mist off the woods.

In dreams you see him grown into a squirrel, a tall tree

then grass, then a pool of water,

your pale white feet sleep in the water.

The Times and Death [时代与死亡] 1947

Throw a wooden boat

into a boundless turbulence,

raise a flag

into the strong wind's sky;

with a rough gait,

mankind wades into life's rapid flow.

In the long, long ranks

“life” and “death” cannot be cut asunder;

each one looks back on the hardship of those behind

spreads their limbs,

extends an extraditing bridge,

every one, so as to let some light through to those behind,

shuts his own eyes forever.

No more talk of destruction, terror,

and the sorrow passed down from ancient times,

only a noble heart

changed into a stream of light in the black night,

illuminating the footsteps of nighttime travellers.

When the troops move forward again,

each ray of vanished light

is dissolved already, deep in the blood of the living,

carried toward the day mankind is waiting for.

If hatred grows truly out of love,

then humiliation is the reason behind honor,

death” “life's” greatest climax

and this lovely splendor like a

rare sudden bloom of flower, even though in an instant

it may whither and fall, yet leave behind

a budding life.

Poverty [贫穷] 1947

Still the something we have will continue to increase,

seemingly our having nothing will never happen,

just as the small greenness of spring settles into a dense shadow in the end,

sandstone in the desert cannot cast a green shoot.

Throw away the arguments of philosophers,

the fast pace of revolutionaries and the pressing calls;

this state of being silently accepts

the autonomous lands of “have” and “have not.

If poverty is a piece of property,

how many inherit, accede to it,

put up with the devastation of wind, snow, hunger, cold.

One day you understand what this war is,

see how the tattered clothes, the suffering lips

speak its lack of glory, its never-end to you.

The Beauty of Life: Suffering * Struggle * Endurance [生的美:痛苦*斗争*忍受] 1947

Peck, peck, peck,

you are the woodpecker at that ancient tree,

incessantly spinning through my silent heart,

you know a timid bug hides here,

please see how I so obediently spread my limbs.

Attack, attack, attack,

in a flash the howling sea makes the waves to roll in,

race at the foot of a tall cliff,

and each detached refusal

stirs the sea's blood even more.

Silent, silent, silent,

as if trees abandon the lush green speechlessly,

suffer on in the darkness and pressure under the earth's crust,

only when pain seeps deep into your body,

can the soul blaze, spitting out a powerful light.

When You're by Me -- O Poetry, I've Found You Again [如有你在我身边诗呵,我又

找到了你] 1979, Beijing

Bist Du bei mir, Geh' Ich mit Freuden.....

Green, green, the willow tendrils tremble,

the thin transparent wings of early spring, sweep over the branches.

Why can't people see her,

this limber sprite, where are you? where?

Here, right here in your heart.” Her soft response.

Ahh, did I bury not you?! Poetry, while the autumn wind rustled,

the grass withered, the leaves fallen, my pen broken,

I bore you out into the wilderness, up a mountain side,

there I buried my lover.

Looking back, wiping away tears, I only saw a wild dog hunger.

They piled garbage on your burial mound, stinking, rotting,

sun shone rain fell, but earth embraced you, digesting, absorbing.

A wild gust of wind scatters winter clouds, spring rain on and on,

green, green, willow tendrils tremble,

thin transparent wings of early spring sweep over the branches.

My limbs soaked by spring chill, stepping on fine misty rain,

pass through fields, come to her grave,

suddenly a soft sigh, so gentle,

Hey, where are you? where? I look everywhere,

“Right here, dear, in your heart.”

From the garbage pile, from the ruins, from the black earth,

Revive, wake from deep sleep, the spring calls you out,

my lover, softly sighing, stretches lazily, yawns,

the sorrow left behind by the funeral, like traces of glaciers,

the ice and snow melted, the skylark joyfully sings, and sinks into the memory of men.

Ahh, I've found you again, my lover, my face pearled in tears,

when I race forward, embrace you, I only see thin smoke,

one wisp, curling up, in an instant vanishes into the clear sky.

What?! What?! You..... I can see you no more,

your eyes so wise, in a moment the joy,

transforms into grief, can it be we cannot reunite?

Sad music, play again, people come and weep.

But the grass on the earth softly asks:

Isn't she right here? in the green of spring?

the pale green of willow tendrils, the jade green of pines.....

Full of joy, I kiss the dirt of your burial mound.

Let my heart grow green, I've found you again,

wherever springs are green,

you are there,

right inside my heart, forever in my heart here.

Whenever I Walk this Path [每当我走过这条小径]

Whenever I walk this path

ghosts curl around my feet

my whole body trembles, not because of cold

but because I see the burning gaze

The stars of youth shouldn't cool this quickly

your lush black hair

can it already be ash

those bright red lips

can all the blood have bled away

your limbs full of spring

today already scattered on the wind

no bone ash, no spirit tablet

Ahh! The life providence granted

in the end becomes a hideous grinning misunderstanding

though the conscience of a few twitches

who can return to the branch the apple

made to fall by the wind and rain, return to us

the tender cheeks of green spring, return to mothers

the foetus which once wriggled in the belly?

Again this year the green leaves here have grown into shade

hedge-roses climb wild over fences

rosy reds, jasmine whites

the bright yellows and deep purples of wild blossoms

all arrive as usual

only the sound of your footsteps

rise in the deep black night

in dreams of you

I fear walking this path

but cannot withstand your summons

from here I once walked toward the unharnessed you

and so my chest swells in pain

now blood ceases to flow, leaving behind

only the pallid white waiting of corpses

just the waiting, the waiting

will quietly grow

like a mushroom in the dark.

From Images of the Heart [心像组诗], a sequence of 13 poems (1986)

#2 The Gate []

This gate does not exist in the human world

only for the fate of a few

those wanting to walk through are blocked

by those wanting to walk out.

Ten years can leave not one trace behind

yet one look could spell eternity;

no beg-your-pardon

is more wistfully said than this

That gate is still there

but no longer exists

only when people

turn heads and look back

can it be clearly seen

that it is

the gate through into the divine comedy

It exists amidst the nothingness

and could be anywhere

#3 Yearning: A Male Lion [渴望:一只雄狮]

In my body a mouth is opened wide, wide

like a roaring male lion

it charges down to a bridgehead on a great river

watches the swift current below

the ferry silently passing through an arch

hears the roar of the times

as the symbol roars in a forest

it turns its head and looks at me

then returns to the cage of my body

the lion's gold fur like sunlight

the roar of the image like a drum roll

like a flower returns to me blooming vitality

the lion takes me there To the bridgehead

I go to meet my appointment

#4 It []

Can't forget it

though the sun's already gone behind the mountain

the range's long, long limbs

unfolding lying down

Passing through impassable armour of iron

it returns to my awareness

and yields there

a light I alone can see

#13 The Whale that can not be Seen [看不见的鲸鱼]

She cannot see

that strongest concentration of life

cannot touch

that densest mass, gathered together the bulk

of bright blue sea gathered

around the swimmer's pale white body

the deep dark forest

covers the black bear tracks

painfully she

hunts, imagines, waits


and again despair

discovering herself one day

already inside it


in a caress


swallowed up

She finally finds the burning point of life

when the unseeable whale

has eaten her up, digested

From My Oriental Soul [我的东方灵魂] (a sequence of 7 poems) 1987

#4 Snow, It can't be White [雪,它不能是白色的]


I don't know

if it's white or not

a black roof-topped sixth floor, New York's 122nd Street

stains the pure white of the snow

An old church bell sounds

stirring the bitter taste of solitude

touching the snow, kissing it

together with the wind

it lifts its top off

the roof line irregular

force and male uneasiness


the holy mother's calm face

Beyond the windows in the building

snow is

red, blue, brown

perhaps it is black pain and

grey loneliness

snow dripping

from the sound of the bell

cannot be


The Ghost of a Spring Cocoon [春茧的幽灵] 1987

The ghost of a cocooned spring

strokes the pitch-black earth

with her silk white sleeves

her white damask dancing shoes

spin like awls

her raised face

cannot see the light of moon and stars

this is not the night

but the sun is picked up

by Chinese-chess players for a game.

From outside the picture a noise passes in

like a stack of china bowls smashed

its glad and ruthless laughter

a venting of hostility

On a tender green mulberry leaf

spring's cocoon pierced by transparency

undergoing the pains of a hard birth

Turning vainly the spinning-wheel

waits ten, a hundred, a thousand years

sleep in peace

the dark of the night seems sweet

immortality rots continuously soaked in honey

cocooned once more in its ancient corpse

the transparency of liquid silk stiffens

A moth flies from the coffin

flutters in the limitless dark

scattering its grey eggs.

A Small Room [斗室] 1987

The small room is so quiet

past views come here often

the fetal movement in a mother's body

Thrown outside, your thick, thick walls

some people jeer at you

the frivolous laughter, also the worship of slaves

here that's only hard thought

the cold stiffening after excited seething

the deep night after the day

The small room has solid walls

my thoughts repeatedly strike them

cast out and bounced back

the sound of an empty valley

lacking your honesty too

Tell me, what am I.

A False Image [假象] 1987

A grey wind shivers the window

dumping the resentment of thousands of years before it

like a mother, I howl and weep enduring it

if howling could bite right through the heart's restraints

let it continue

How old the open grave

so heavy the grudge

The wind is able’

to push wildly at the windmill

This morning the sun comes to say

yesterday was all wrong, see

the sky is so blue, pay no heed

From today on, we have only clear skies

and I stare oddly at it

the gust from the heart blows me over

An Appointment [一次约会] 1987

I thought we were all old

but time and again you

fly up over the horizon

reaching out your long arm of foam

following my feet that stand on a beach

you present pale white lips to me

until I must soak my feet in your

icy green jade

silently you

roll away the fine sand under my feet

carried back to your dark deep

the more I sink the deeper I go down

feel for a brief instant life close over me

until in time you are compelled by the receding tide

slowly to leave

and I spy my feet once more

She goes far away

leaves behind a long wet mark

as long as the shore

equally convoluted, equally hard to understand.

From Existence that no longer Exists [不再存在的存在] (a series of 4 poems)1988

#1 Van Gogh's Pleasure Boat is Gone [凡高的画船不在了]

Staggering along the North Sea's shore

in the sky an ink-black cloud bank rolls

cleaning away the white caps

the enormous wind blows away all tourists

Looking out from an empty sidewalk cafe:


violent, dark grey sea

van Gogh's colorful boat is gone

the vivid reds and greens

that make it hard to sleep


Luckily the rain storm

drives off the illusions and disappointments of a clear sky

van Gogh's pleasure boat is long gone actually, ever since

folk blundered along the shore of the North Sea

no longer harboring belief in the other side.’

Perhaps cataracts have developed

people cannot see that being

which no longer is

but the poet Strunt says

"No matter where, I always am

that lost part"

From Naked Exposure [裸露] (a sequence of 11 poems) 1987-1988

#9 The Wings of Swans [天鹅的翅膀]

Between freedom and unfreedom

swans swim in the park lake

herons pass through come and go

their wings uncut

The swans gracefully live in

the park's middling state

nobody knows

if they are happy or not

#10 Glass Windows [玻璃窗]

The world does not welcome a transparent window

it exposes a proper noun

like a person without any clothes

awkward, shameful

Sometimes the world welcomes a transparent window

when it puts its Xmas garden on parade


it exhibits in a display window a kindly, jolly old gent

People do not always welcome a bright window

thick curtains keep out the black night

light comes from a candlestick, a fireplace

Love knows no black night? or all is night?

The world welcomes a semitransparent window

all things are more beautiful than shadows

unfeeling reality screened by

eyelashes, protecting feeble sight

Only an artless child

pressing his nose against the glass world

I am longing for you

He still has no ‘I’ to perplex him

From Heavy Lyrics [沉重的抒情诗] (a sequence of 7 poems) 1988

#1 Heavy Lyricism [沉重的抒情]

As if

coming out of wood

coming out of stone

the heart is carved into

the planes and curves of an abstract painting

an appeal from earth to sky

history is heavy

you need a foundation of black cast iron

to bolster the heart that still bleeds

#2 The Rec’ Room [游艺室]

In the rec room

hangs every type of mask

children come in

play every kind of role

some cut their heads off

some barter their hearts

Curses, wild laughter, an uproar

demons for every form of desire dance

only the hero's mask cannot be found

it's left on the wall

The silly sainted one sobbing under the table

drips his tears that cannot spread

on the absorbent concrete floor

they won't bring forth flowers, won't melt the river ice

#3 Roots []

A root stretches out of the distance

passed through thousands of years a passageway underground

when I go to rip it up

so as to plant brilliant flowers

I track it down, unearth it

until, suddenly looking up

I see a beautiful big tree

With my bloody fingers

I carve a symbol in it to ward off evil

I know I can't dig it up

It is the mother of our graves

#4 Looking into the Distance [瞧向远方]

The air becomes the heaviest substance

the sacred gold pedestal dissolves without a trace or shadow

yet children's feet grow wings

they gaze into the distance, fly into the distance

the garbage beside them doesn't disturb them

the far-off thunder and fire of lightning is

the truth closest to home

all drank their fill of the wine of forgetfulness

and stare at the dense, distant fog

like Icarus, the fearless wings could melt

Bodies begin to fall like rain

From Death of a Poet [诗人之死] (a sequence of 19 poems) 1989


Who is it, who

whose powerful fingers

break this winter day's narcissus

make the white juice ooze out

of green jade and scallion-white stems?

who is it, who

whose mighty fist

shatters this elegant ancient vase

makes the juice of life

gush out of his chest

The narcissus withers

the destruction of the new bride's illusions

is the hand that makes a life

taking back again a song not entirely sung.


Unsung songs

unfinished dreams

peer down at me from the edge of a cloud

like migrant birds flying into the haze

Here the primordial age is just beginning

but without the mettle of dinosaurs

history goes astray in the confusion

spring will not easily arrive

Take it away you unsung notes

Take it away you incompletely painted dreamscape

the sky on that side, the earth on that

Already long long lines

carrying real feeling washed clean long ago

compose the sequel of our story.


That pair of doubting eyes

watch the evening sun behind a cloud bank

full of illusions and innocence

unwillingly covered over by death

That pair of doubting eyes

ever unwilling to accept the darkness

even though they once passed through the shadow of death

accompanying the corpses of fellow sufferers in her chest

Don't know why she's always unwilling

to come down from the cloud's edge

acknowledge life's cruelty

Don't know why she's ever unwilling

to acknowledge the empty lies of illusion

life's inability to forgive


The right hand lightly strokes the left

an odd feeling, called loneliness

a poet struggles to keep watch

over his spirit garden at the end of spring's book

Time rolls away step by step paintings press close

leaving only a right hand gently stroking a left

suddenly everything disappears, dead silence

the retreating tide doesn't heed your plea to stay

Like the wind whirling to sweep fallen leaves

but taunted ridiculed by winter

the curses chasing after you

Today still pressed tight on corpses

they say it's not hatred, there's no howl

A beautiful reply: Merely too busy with work.


Gushing up from under our feet is not yellow earth

but a hundred thousand acres of billowing bluish-green

seawater industriously washes the coral clean

its snow-white skeleton is worry-free

Your sixty-ninth winter already past

you patiently wait for a bolt of lightning's fire

to arrive and inscribe the final line of a lifetime's

thought on your pure white bones

No matter what further boiling black clouds appear on the horizon

they can not hurt you

you've already carried off all the weakness of flesh

The dance of the flame in full bloom will absorb you

and so all pretty china

is left with odd curious flowers that never fall


We are all fiery islands

all our lives we tread red flames

passed through hell, burnt through overpasses

without emitting a sigh that injures our status

But we envy islands of flame

that find pure sweet water in a clump of grass

an unbounded far-off sky above

abruptly they will fly up, thin bright red feet hanging behind

In a dream the lazy bear of wild thought also once

flew up

turned over

But like an inferior hero-acrobat

fell to death

without a sound


Winter is past, is happiness really not far away

Your death ends your sixty-ninth winter

a desperate Shelley once vainly imagined the west wind

driving away cruel reality, blowing it far-off.

After winter there's still winter, still

it's winter, unending winter

this morning your ways make me believe, tied up

an unclear debtor, everyday in front of my door

We buried your remains

but that is still not enough by far

A debt of thousands of years

Ruins a family fortune, perhaps

we must burn your sheaves of poems too

stuff the greedy crematory


The eye is a frozen lotus pond

the stream already dry, my sixty-ninth winter

stands at death's frontier checkpoint sending death on its way

on the horizon a camel train moves toward a state nobody knows

The happy grapes will not anxiously ask about their fate

the savory red wine also forgets its roots

only note after note connects into song

perhaps it is anger, perhaps it is soft

A whole is just a composition of fragments

pieces reorganized, birth a new whole

the shortsighted craftsman thinks it's the end

Rest your eyes, let your limbs lie across the earth

the replacement of silkworm by chrysalis, of caterpillar by butterfly

scattered on hills and lakes, what is like rain is this ‘me’


With the laser knife of time they

cut at our bodies

white brain waves are videotapes

that cannot be erased, boxes of our voice tapes

Smashed, harsh songs escape

a desperate poet holds out a heart of pent-up blood

goes to see god or the devil

Anyway they are all football stars

Kick a heart over to the center

shoot on goal with it

a good record of that fatal point

Joyful shouts like wind in the fields

passes through drops of blood and flies off

a poet's heart goes into the net, that is the grave.


When the old is dressed up as new life

blocking out the sky above you

layer after layer of old skin reluctant to part with the ugly

fears the pain of new life

Today, a deflated balloon

the old skin clings tight to my body

its former life already quietly escaped

the immortal life of it is the death of my pain

Cast my, as yet unclosed, eyes

off into the distance

the magnificent Northern Lights are there

Poet, your final silence

like a voiceless polar light

plays more freely than we.

From The Gift of Life [生命之赐] (a sequence of 14 poems) Nov. - Dec. 1994

Preface: I Say [序言:我说]

I say:

Poetry, I pursue

Philosophy, I seek

but poetry and philosophy

and not bear paws and fish

possibly it's a fish boiling a bear paw

perhaps it's a bear paw braising a fish

in one there is the rich flavor of the other

People eating no longer closely question

which is the fish, which is the bear paw

only believing the tongue

receptor of ten thousand flavors in its one

forgetting that picky, biased, self-styled intelligence

of the brain

Long ago the fish and the bear paw forgot themselves

stewed above a fiery pool of red briquettes

in that invisible, black, burning,

unfathomable abyss.


What is hard to accept is love's eternal transformations

hatred's stubborn persistence and the unwillingness of bitterness to vanish

the distant undulating cloud once experienced cruelty too

the scorching white sun also finds it hard to shirk the bath of nocturnal rain

Yesterday's wild wind only broke the arms of willows

observing, head raised is the unmoved old pine

the excited seething of millennia only condenses its dark green

its motley body is carved into an old dragon lying prone

Let go when the green spring gives you an elastic grace

the whirl of the instant makes even the universe dizzy

the planet is just a stage on which you unfold your power

What waits for you is not a muddled old age

changed into a distant undulating cloud a suspended twilight

gradually turning into orange, a pale blue, delivered by the universe


The joy of autumn is in death

the rich colors of the wings of death

from gosling orange to deep brown to orangutan red

but the autumn does not sigh, doesn't weep

When a breeze sweeps over the crown of a big broad aspen

it knocks down a brown cascade

waiting on the earth is the wild joy of reunion

after a long, distant journey a whispering outpour

The wine of autumn rain intoxicates them all

pressed tight together, cheeks dark red

leaf on leaf, heap on heap, shower after shower

Arriving one after another still slowly drifting down

until the final leaf, the soft peel of a bell

ends the summer's showy wind and clouds


Outcrops in silence. We must wait.

Like the fruit of peach trees, amid the damage of rainstorms and

pests, endure life's whips

Fruit filling a tree, outcroppings filling a gully

How many can still be stained dark red? On dinner tables

receive people's praise? Chance

has its choice, stretches out a hand

mysterious like drifting clouds passing over a border

Whose footsteps are so leisurely?

Whose arms so lazy

a hesitant look, can it ever pass through?

An outcrop hasn't an easily rotted body

can bear eons of indifference and forgetfulness

it is sound asleep in a deep place, pillowed by stone.


Half a century we only blinked

the planet never stopped spinning revolving

when we woke the northern hemisphere in the litheness of spring

already become the cold harsh asthma of the southern

A flock of geese rushes to catch the season

even in the vortex of the air's stream it doesn't lose direction

the eyes of you and me are not the stars in the sky

at night it's hard to recover childish dreams

Dawn comes from the east

the setting sun goes home to the west

a weary traveller gazes up at the limitless sky beyond the sky

Too bad, only in the cabin of a supersonic jet

can you, at the final moment, say good-bye to the timidity of the evening sun

and immediately greet the downy grey of dawn


Those words that were never spoken

we don't know what thicket they slipped into

we are forever digging deep

hoping to find their hidden loot

We look up at each other angry at being duped

you never really entered the pupil of my eye

I am only in a place far, far away from you too

but we strive, endeavor to come close

The distance is already impossible to remove

unless we can possess transparent bodies

limitless a blue sky without a cloud bank

You will become my hair skin

I the earth under your feet

no more the divergence of two lives you me

From If Curses aren't Accompanied by Deep Thought [如果咒骂没有带来沉思]

(a sequence of 9 poems) 1995

#1 Untitled [无题]

Writing a line of poetry is like taking a sip of alcohol

my soul sinks toward sleep

quietly talks of the world with a valley of dreams

that which is lost, please never return

After waking, we are like two free white colts

on unbounded green grass chasing playing

until the murky evening mist finds the halters again

no longer do we raise our heads to whinny, nor do hooves fly

Now our manes droop, we silently stand side by side

return to the pen built by people for horses

#4 If..... Then ..... [假如。。。。。然而。。。。。]

If I rush to the forest

tell the birds to sing somewhat softer

gently, gently

don't wake the baby sound asleep in the shade

If I rush to the open fields

tell the sheep not to eat the wild flowers

carefully, carefully

leave them for the oldster haltingly coming that way

Then birds sing more wildly

then sheep eat more savagely

when will they finally be able to understand

why creation made them gifts of voice and green grass?

#8 A Century's Waiting [世纪的等待]

The winter's waiting

winter's grey clouds toss and turn

waiting for snow

The sparse willow branches are brittle

loneliness hangs in the swaying of branch-tips

waiting makes the weak and small live

waiting makes the imperious tremble

Amid the tossing and turning the grey clouds finally spill down

white snow goose down scattering winnowing

in a blink the soundless white wilderness

transforms all that is impetuous into forgetfulness

A temporary forgetting is a bird flying

passing on the waiting of a century nearing its end

#9 The Forgotten Yesterday (A dirge of an ancient culture) [被遗忘的昨天


A flock of ancient animals

their hurried footsteps race between

perilous peaks of glass and steel

they have thousands of years of yesterday

they once had written words to be proud of

but today

the library at Alexandria is sealed

today they

pant amid the press of glass and steel.

Several times the invasions of foreign nations

has been digested by these volumes

absorbed, reborn, multiplied.

But a hand reaches out from inside

pinching off the words of each classic, extracting

a nerve of the old culture

from the spine of the ancient animal

now he's forgotten the form of the words

lost the ear to listen to the old zither

the eye to see mountains and rivers of splashed ink

after they walk through the palace of knowledge

its roof dark blue like the seaside

they are stunned, blinded, bewildered like people of another land

The sun of the twenty-first century shines on Beijing, Shanghai

Shenzhen, Hainan Island

The twenty-first century's sea wind blows their long hair

ancient animals light in years

sturdy bodies

long-distance runners record-breakers

their faces in the dark

facing the future

behind them

a long-forgotten path

on the far-off silk Road

long shadows and the sound of bells of the final camel train

moving toward death at Lou-lan[1]

The long-running giraffe

the ocean-crossing dolphin

possession of the great wealth of a capitalist

already lost

the cliff paintings of ancestors, the writings on bamboo slips

in a stretch of forgetfulness a blank yesterday

extends out from the desert's tomorrow

Desert links desert

footprints vanish in the wind

the lake of the crescent moon dries out in corrosion

Who will suddenly recover his senses?

Abruptly look back, shocked to see:

Death walking out of graves

like terracotta warriors just waking

on both sides smashing

the steel bones and glass clamping in the sky

the tall peaks pressing at their chests

the entire troop returns to the vast prairie

the harnessing of sand begins at Loulan

the flock of old animals finds its way back to the source of water

This isn't the recurrence of a dream

cock your ears and hear the sound of wind beyond the pass

yesterday calls to tomorrow

please don't be so insensitive

so frivolous

as to forget the pretty embroidered gowns

and let the calculators of the bourse

steal the old soul away.

[1] Loulan: A warlike state during the Han dynasty (206 B.C.E. - 220 C.E.) located in what is now the western Chinese territory of Xin­jiang.

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