Thinking of Li Bai from One End of the Sky

Du Fu
Translated from the Chinese by Wong May

A cool wind arises from one end of the sky.My friend, I cannot vouch for your intent.Migratory birds arrive & partDo we hold them to their schedule?How full of water are the lakes & riversIn Autumn!Good writingResents happy circumstances.Good writers are rarely spared.The demons of this worldTheir gargoyle facesAre made gladWhenever men of talent hobble.One ought to have a chatWith poets of the landPurported to haveDrowned.                The wronged soulsWhether freezing water is their element.                                    But for the likes of oneWe won't see again,Fish, fiends, & friendsI throw this poemInto the Miluo River.

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Du Fu (Wade–Giles: Tu Fu; Chinese: 杜甫; 712–770) was a Chinese poet and politician of the Tang dynasty.

Wong-May_Zachary Schomburg
Photo:
Zachary Schomburg

Wong May was born in 1944 in Chungking, China. She was brought up in Singapore by her mother Wang Mei Chuang, a classical Chinese poet, who taught school & wrote short stories. After graduating from the University of Singapore, she joined The Writers Workshop at University of Iowa in 1966. Harcourt Brace & World brought out her first book of poetry in 1969, followed by two other books in 1972 & 1978. In 1972 she was a visiting writer at the Literarisches Colloquium Berlin. She is married to an Irish physicist & has lived mainly in France & Ireland. They have two sons. Dublin has been her home since 1978.

Her latest poetry collection is Picasso’s Tears (Octopus Poetry, 2014). She is presently at work on a book called My Life in Pictures.

No. 256

Manchester
England

General Editor
Michael Schmidt

Deputy Editor
Andrew Lattimer

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