Atlanta Review China Issue

 

 

Contents

THE POETRY OF CHINA —24

Introduction by George O’Connell
Reflections in a Rippling Glass —25

Li Yu
To the Tune of “Beating Silk” —34
To “Bodhisattva’s Headdress” —35
To “A Vessel of Pearls” —35

Su Dong Po
To “Calming Wind and Waves” —36
Poem on the Lute —36
Night Return to Lin Gao —37

Lan Lan
The Rest of It —38
Siesta —39
Wind —40

Lu Xixi
I Am —41
Chorus —41
All This Will Disappear Some Day —42
Summons —42

Wang Jiaxin
Simple Autobiography —43
Christmas 2002 —44
The Last Days of Octavio Paz —45
from A Darkening Mirror —46

Sun Wenbo
Night Swim, A Song —48
The Dairy Farm Remembered —49
Reflections on the Cultural Revolution —50
Ghost Night —51
In My Dream, Grandfather —52
Shut the Doors and Windows Well —53

Hu Xudong
A Short Chapter —54
Tibetan Medicine —55
Written at Waterside —56

Zang Di
Marriage Cuisine —58
Against Memory —59
Primer —60

Han Dong
Your Hand —61
Grey —62
O —63

Shu Cai
Falling Leaves —64
Shattered Gold, Shattered Silver —65
Young Woman —66
Ebony Carving —66

Yu Jian
On its Saturdays… —67
Ninety poets… —67
How to capture a live leopard… —68
To plant a tree… —68
The Last Summer Storm —69

Zhai Yongming
Life —70
Doll —72

Yang Jian
Lost —73
Tomb-Sweeping Day —74
Dusk —75

Wang Xiaoni
So Many Pears —76
Half of Me Is Aching —77
The Sugar Beet Cart —78
Ought To Be a Maker —79

Duo Duo
Courtyard —80
Amsterdam’s River —82

Xiao Kaiyu
North Station —83
To a Photo of the Deceased —84
Dusk —85

Xi Chuan
Song of Unimportance —86
Blackout —87
This Moment —88

China Contributors —90

Sample Poems

trans. © Diana Shi & George O’Connell, Atlanta Review China Issue, Spring/Summer 2008

 

李煜 | Li Yu (Southern Tang)

 

TO THE TUNE OF “BODHISATTVA’S HEADDRESS”

 

A flower opens in dim moonlight
and mist descends, the moment
to slip off to my lover
stockingfooted, gilded clogs in hand.
South of the Hall of Murals
we cling to each other,
a long time trembling.
Such trouble. Such surrender.

 

苏轼 | Su Shi (Song Dynasty)

 

NIGHT RETURN TO LIN GAO

To the tune of “Immortals on the River”

 

Drunk at Dong Po, sobered up, drunk again,
I get home around midnight,
houseboy snoring like thunder,
answering no knock.
I lean on my staff
and hear the river run.

So long to regret this body’s not mine,
to forget striving, living.
This late, the wind’s dropped,
the current burnished smooth.
In a skiff I could vanish
downriver, borne
forever to the sea.

 

Note: Exiled from the capitol, the poet Su Shi (1036-1101) acquired a small plot of land in Hubei Province called “Dong Po” or “East Slope,” from which he took his pen name. Here he erected a building of several rooms called “Xue Tang” or “Snow Hall,” mainly to shelter his large extended family. He himself lived not far off, in a small house named “Lin Gao,” meaning loosely “high ground near water.”

 

韩东 | Han Dong

 

YOUR HAND

 

You drift off, your hand’s slight
weight on my body
grown slowly leaden,
so I can’t sleep.
The night is long,
your posture unchanging.
This hand expresses love,
or something like it.
I dare not move
nor wake you
until I get used to this weight
and enjoy it.
Dreaming, you suddenly draw the hand back,
missing all this.

 

多多 | Duo Duo

 

COURTYARD

 

Raindrops linger on the eaves
recalling in late autumn old people and old stories.
These acorns all over the yard

knocked at the doors of many generations.

Each gust of wind plunders the wardrobe
painted with ox blood,
headdresses of rat’s teeth, the unerasable

fragrance of age.

Old houses store scales, not bells, yet hide
how many myths, only the tiles
restored to the body, family names more important than given names.

Many musical instruments

in the dust; unplayed forever, five saws
slid into drawers; ten golden bowls that bump the forehead with a note
forever echoing a bell-toll.

Four young girls around a willow,

apricot flowers on their heads,
plaiting each other’s braids;
the gods of those days
moved off with the fish urn.

Pointing to the stone horse

the branch with too many blooms
to count, only mother’s shadow
cast at the same moment

moonlight flooded the bed.

When dreaming was like reading a newspaper,
when the autumn pears touched according to the old calendar,
and someone stopped to string them into words.

Stone coffins, wooden carts, ancient paths, city walls;

beyond a range of roofpeaks, the courtyards’
logic crisscrossing streets and lanes
whose palmlines prophesied a square.

A cold draft as if a coat were misbuttoned,

coins from the hand scattered on the table,
stacked like the old city’s tumblestone steps,
so while gathering them in,

joy after joy escapes.

Set the old man gently on your knees,
facing where ancestors faced each morning to wash,
where from the alley lifts the cry of the knifegrinder.

The more you long to see, the higher the wall rises.

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