"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]