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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Speaking of Chinese Poets

Poets from across time and civilizations speak to us. Some feel like they are right here beside us.  We feel like we know them. And, more importantly, we feel like they know us.

Here are a few more international poets for you to consider.

Wang Wei, from the eighth century, has a moving poem, "Lament for Yin Yao" which ends with these lines:

All your old friends have brought you gifts
But for your life these too are late.
I've failed you in more ways than one.
Weeping, I walk back to my gate.
translated by Vikram Seth

Of course, there is the famous Li Po who lived in the Tang Dynasty (700's).  His poem, "Alone and Drinking Under the Moon," has a contemporary quality which is almost unnerving. He writes:

still not drunk, I am glad
to make the moon and my shadow 
into friends..."

Clearly, this is a sentiment which would have been much appreciated by French poet Charles Baudelaire (19th century)  who wrote the famous prose poem "Drunk" which declares, mid-poem:

"....ask what time
it is and wind, wave, star, bird, clock will answer you: 'It's time to be drunk! So as not to be the
martyred slaves of time, be drunk, be continually drunk! On wine, on poetry, or on virtue as you

Then there a contemporary Chinese woman poet Zhai Yongming who, in her poem "In this Instant" has this to say about  on time and timelessness --and our responsibility to both:

"....only I 
heard the tip tap tune of breaking dawn
The flash of ecstasy had no equal, the aloofness 
was like a distrust of air, or the dew
or the night...." 

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