Saturday, May 10, 2014

Reading The Classic of Poetry

By X. Z. Shao

My new round of a ten-year
self-imposed moratorium
on reading in Chinese has begun,
but I allow a minor exception
by placing the Confucius-edited
Classic of Poetry within my reach.
Words thousands years old
are still fresh and in use today.
Moments of joy,
hearts pressed by human cruelty,
are real as just happened yesterday.
I see mulberry leaf-picking girls
work and sing, giggling their way home.
A maiden urges her love not to climb her wall
for fear of her parents and brother’s eyes.
A man meets a woman in the wild,
has sex and feels contented.
A wife kicks her husband out of bed
less he may be late in court service.
A lament of a woman abandoned
narrated in plain words with her tears.
Youth gather by a riverbank, maybe,
an encouragement for sex to boost birth.
A petty servant burdened by office
utters his helplessness.
A soldier marched to war in spring
when willow were swaying in the breeze,
only to return in winter
when rain mixed with snowflakes fall.
An aristocrats complains the chaotic time
while hymns are sung to the royal dead.
I love the book so very much,
a time tunnel for me to go three millenniums back,
experience the ancient’s sorrows and romance,
and return with a sharp awareness
that we have lost our innocence
and created a much worse incurable mess. 


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