Thursday, September 07, 2006

"The invitation"         [cha-bu-duo shi]

I remain 10 and 12   and 14 years of age
      being 30 or 40 or 50

before me rests still   the invitation of a page
  bidding the marking of phrases formed in lines

I have lolled under pines   and dawdled on lawns
    it was never my desire to be thrifty

of time readily squandered   for poetry's whims
    how swift come the evenings and the dawns!


Fourth in a series entitled Chinese poems, late summer.
The ealier poems:
no. 1:   Rooftop Scene
no. 2:   "The basic problem"
no. 3:   Night Sounds

Those three are modelled on the 8-line classical poem (shi); whereas this one flows from the 4-line (7 characters/line) form. These lines of mine are a bit more dense with words than that laconic language exhibits. So I dub this poem a "cha-bu-duo [not quite] shi." Even so, the 7 beats are present; utterance is measured to the beat; and the poem demonstrates, by means of its measure, a fourfold elaboration of thought. This still conveys, for me, the old poetry.

[Summer Mountains, Northern Song dynasty (960–1127), attributed to Qu Ding]


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