Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Dufu: summer night


With a sun that never seems to set
The heavy heat saps one's life
How would I love
A stiff wind to rise, and
Lift my gown, playing around
My body! A sky still
And clear with the light of
The full moon throwing its beams
Over trees; in midsummer
Nights are too short; I fling
Open doors letting
Cool air come in and moonlight
Brighten empty rooms;
Everywhere insects are flying,
And I ponder on how all
Living creatures have feelings,
All trying to do their best for
Their own well-being; so do I
Go on to think of our soldiers
Standing under arms
Guarding our frontiers; no
Way for them to bathe in cool
Waters; always vigilant, yet ever
Grappling with desert heat;
Beating gongs as sentry
Duties change over throught the
Nights -- a sound familiar now
On all our frontiers;
Bright uniforms never compensating
For life in villages they
Have left; from northern cities
There comes sad border music;
Cranes fly overhead, calling
Each other; so here, I stop my
Worrying, just letting
My mind roam back over thoughts
Of happier days.


"A Summer Night"
Translated by Rewi Alley
From Tu-Fu, Selected Poems, compiled by Feng Chih
Hongkong: Commercial Press, 1977, p. 73-74

Mad Hun's Questions:
1. How can you tell this is a pagan's poem?
2. What are verses that a monotheist would not make?
3. Think in matrix-terms: how many boundaries do you find?
4. What are verses that a warmonger would not make?
5. How does Dufu support troops as a pacifist?
6. What is an insect?
7. Who is sentient?
8. Why wind?