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Sunday, 20 September 2009

After Wang Wei


File:Bluewater 1.JPG

Bluewater: photo by Warburg, 2008

Chilling down by the water
stopped to watch clouds drift
clouds drift clouds drift
bumped into mr. green
talked laughed forgot
it was time to go

File:Cirrus 23 juni 2008.jpg

Cirrus clouds
: photo by Rasbak, 2008


Andrew said...

"Chilling" is the perfect word to kick off a poem originating from the spirit of Wang Wei's poetry. It is a shame that his translated poems don't share such a contemporary manner of expressing his relationship with the world.

Dale said...

Wonderful, Tom, thanks!

TC said...

Thanks Andrew and Dale.

Yes, Andrew, "chilling" announces right at the start that it's going to sound contemporary. I hope Wang Wei would have approved. Of course there are many classic versions of this classic poem but I tried to let them all escape my mind (easy these days!) and instead worked with the Chinese characters and a basic trot for each character. Thus, I guess, the minimalist bits-and-pieces feeling. Still, I think that worked with the repetition of the drifting clouds.

I guess what made the poem for me was the final linebreak--he's talked and laughed and enjoyed the rare experience of company and maybe forgotten his troubles for a while... but it's time to go. He'd forgot that, but now, alas he remembers. Not that it's a sentimental parting -- people go and come, drifting like the clouds, all part of the way things happen.

(In the original mr. green is a sort of venerable forest hermit sage.)

Marcia said...

I have a broadside of this poem, and am delighted to see it here with the clouds.

Melissa said...

and I with the water. She would certainly have approved. If only I had her boat and books--she drifts, asleep, but the pages turn

Elmo St. Rose said...

new moon
eternal atonal
sounds from
a ram's horn
atonal eternal
ancient people

ancient peoples

Anonymous said...

I like it when someone can say much with so few words and makes the reader think; ponder over such.
I am liking the pictures too; muchly.

TC said...

Thanks kind people.

Clouds, water; adrift, asleep. Time to go.

The Eighth Century poet Wang Wei, drawing his calm pictures of water, mist, mountains, sky--he was called "the Poet Buddha"-- provides an "eternal atonal" sign under which arise your new words and poems under the new moon.

SarahA, I am liking your way of noticing what's true, you. I imagine the late summer clouds and quietly rocking waters of thirteen centuries ago as not so very different from those captured in these contemporary photos, again signs of a kind of timeless serenity that includes a resignation to accept and embrace what is.

But oh, time to go.

aditya said...

Nice one Tom ... A nice effort with the structure of the poem. I searched a little about Wang Wei ..
Poet Buddha seems to be an appropriate title for the man, with such fine understanding of life.


TC said...

Thanks Aditya. Yes, Wang Wei has had a pretty good shelf life. He continues to score. In that respect, considering your shirt selection, you might compare him to Pippo Inzaghi. I would love to see what Wang Wei would have done with your contemporary subject matter. A serene four-line quatrain on the rude shock of falling off a motorbike, now that would pose an interesting challenge for him.

Keep up the poems, and I hope your exams came out okay.

Mariana Soffer said...

Great text, excelent, I hate when clouds forget to leave, there should be some way to make them remember it.

Take caer TC

TC said...

Yes, clouds have short memories.

And you know what they say about "words writ on water..."

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TC said...


Yes, thank God for animal friends, there are three cats here who keep us continually running to please them if not dancing!

aditya said...

hahah .. I was buying the Manchester United one .. Ryan Giggs .. hail !!
I turned for a nanosecond .. and whoosh it was gone !!!
So had to settle for Milan.

You have to check out the new pic .. then.

I am happy you liked the poem. :)

The exams didn't come out okay .. but then you cannot do much about it.
Just posted a new poem .. hope you can take out some time to read it. I would be more than glad. :)

TC said...

Hi Aditya,

Sorry it's taken me a few days to get back round to dipping butterflies, it's been a pretty complicated week.

You'll see I've told you over there how much I like both your eerily premonitory poem to Jim Carroll (wicked good, up to Jim's own high standards) as well as your new one about the overgrown undergrowth of that close habitat which is the poet's imagination. Swell stuff all round, you've really got the touch.

Too bad about the exams, but I see you are a philosopher about that.

Now speaking of touch, Ryan Giggs, there is a man who keeps proving over and over again (e.g. three days ago) that age means nothing--a message which at my stage of the game means everything.

A veteran poet would like to say he were in that same league as Giggsy, when it comes to touch, but that's definitely an "as if" or an "if only..."