For any number of years, the book The White Pony: An Anthology of Chinese Literature has sat leisurely at my bedside for me to dip into at fancy and whim. What this approach to an anthology loses in continuity is made up for with the element of surprise: I pick up the volume and am on occasion taken back by the power and wisdom of much of the work found there. Edited by Robert Payne and originally published in 1947, it's pocket book size somewhat makes up for its old school approach (I can't tell you how many doctor and dental appointments its accompanied me to, only to find its way back to the pile beside my bed). Here's a little beauty I ran across a few nights ago:
I lay my harp on the curved table,
Sitting there idly, filled with emotions.
Why should I trouble to play?
A breeze will come and sweep the strings.
translated by Chang Ti
This translation's virtues are many, not the least of which is the ambiguity of the 2nd line. The ennui here should certainly appeal to most poets and just as assuredly describes the universal human condition.
This week's featured poem comes from Lilliput Review, #164, originally published in July 2008. By the outstanding UK poet David Lindley, whose work has been featured many times over the years, this little is a reminder about something we who are not bodhisattvas are constantly doomed to repeat.
in imitation of a poem by Ishikawa Jozan
Cherry blossom scattered
on the lawn at evening.
The spring and I
both feel old.
I can't say
you betrayed me.
When the blossom
was on the tree
it was I who
forgot to look.David Lindley
cherry blossoms scatter
snap! the buck
twists off his horns
translated by David G. Lanoue
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Go to the LitRock web site for a list of all 109 songs