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Thursday, May 16, 2024

But for Tomorrow (by Bei Dao)

The days drift by four ways
An investigation by happenstance
My heart calm as water

That has leached deeply
Into tomorrow's riverflow
Leaving me, exposed

I climbed the foggy peak
And gazed at the moonlight
Suspicious of its many layers

Surely the road exists
The horse's hooves strike loudly
Like a stanza of eternal verse

I haven't read or translated much contemporary Chinese poetry but I think this poem by Bei Dao is exquisite and very much in the Tang spirit, a fine example of poetry made through the process of the distillation of experience, that is to say, first evaporation of something that happened followed by condensation in verse.

And today being my birthday, I had the opportunity to write my own poem in reply to Bei Dao.

time speaks to the best part of me

time speaks 

to the best part of me

come along for the ride

trying to put new meaning 

in an old metaphor is like 

pursuing carbon capture 

after the fuel’s been burned  

I mean it can be done 

But at what expense 

Is it even worth the effort of a poem