Saturday, May 10, 2014

When I read historical records of China

By X. Z. Shao

When I read historical records of China,
I often put aside the book and ponder:
few poets had led a life of comfort.
I see only recluses and wanderers,
the Empire’s prisoners,
or poet Ruan Ji
who requested to play his beloved instrument
before his head was chopped off.
Some were consumed by rivers
either willingly or by accidents.
My venerated Tao Qian
bowed out of political scene
to grow his own rice
and record his simple life
to avoid to be a foot servant of a tumultuous reign.
There is so much to gain being practical;
There is so much to lose trying to be a poet.
Then, why poets still hang on?
For they all knew
those pressed ahead for gain
also bore considerable risks,
the biggest was their names being erased by Time.
To escape oblivion you must create,
Yet, any act of creation must be fueled
with the creator’s life.
What a fair tradeoff!
If you want your name to float in the air for long,
you must bear what Hamlet complains
and learn to sing and sing well your swan songs

      Morning, November 26, 2010

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