Tag Archives: Tang Dynasty poetry

#85: The Eight Year Old Son of the American English Teacher Illustrates the Chinese Poets

Em Whiteboard Mural

It’s a teacher work-day
and Mom is getting an MRI,
so the boy comes with Dad to school,
takes copious notes during the staff meeting
and afterwards creates a mural in the classroom.
He begins with the tree.
When you come back from Spring Break, he says,
you can do a lesson about trees.
Consider it done, Dad says, and he
tells his son about the Chinese poets,
wherein it is written all about the trees
and the rivers and the mountains.
The boy creates a key so that everyone understands
that brown is for dirt and/or wood,
that black is the color of rock and stone,
green is the color of the leaves on the tree,
blue is the color of the river’s flowing waters,
and white is snow and the generative void
of absence which eventually gives birth
to the ten thousand things
of the empirical, dry erase-board world.

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Filed under Education, Literature, Poetry, Teaching

#11: The American English Teacher Reads the Ancient Chinese Masters


The American English Teacher Reads the Ancient Chinese Masters

I want those mountains, that river,
my head in those clouds–that kind of wandering,
self-ablaze, alive with possibility,
drunk with wine,
as silent as nature,

missing now–
found again only through right diligence,
an effort conspired against by
almost every natural fact of modern living.

I long to see stars again
and breathe deeply an air free of diesel,
gasoline, concrete, rubber, and garbage, which,
even in my bucolic suburban neighborhood, is always present,
the persistent, nagging ghost,
the shadow of civilized life.

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Filed under Culture, Poetry

#4: The American Teenager Reads the Ancient Chinese Masters


The American Teenager Reads the Ancient Chinese Masters

Untitled (Wang Wei, translated by David Hinton)

You just came from my old village
so you know all about village affairs.
When you left, outside my window,
was it in bloom—that winter plum?

What the hell?
What village affairs? Who left? Why did he leave?
Where’d he go? What does a plum have to do with village affairs?
What difference does it make whether this guy
saw the plum or didn’t see the plum?
Do plums grow during winters in China?
What the hell?

In Reply To P’ei Ti (Wang Wei, translated by David Hinton)

The cold river spreads boundless away.
Autumn rains darken azure-deep skies.
You ask about Whole-South Mountain:
mind knows far beyond white clouds.

What the hell?
Who’s P’ei Ti?  What’s an azure-deep sky?
What’s he asking?
What ABOUT the damn Whole-South Mountain?
Mind knows? Whose mind?
How does a mind know beyond clouds?
What the hell?

The American teenager does not know how much she knows.
Her questions give rise to answers unspoken, unwritten.

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Filed under Poetry