“It was hot,
the flies were persistent and teasing,
and it was pleasant to reflect
that it would soon be evening.”
No one attacks it with a long lance,
No one plies a strong cross-bow.
Suckling its grandsons, rearing its cubs,
It trains them into savagery.
Its reared head becomes a wall
Its waving tail becomes a banner.
Even Huang from the Eastern Sea,¹
Dreaded to see it after dark,
A righteous tiger, met on the road,²
Was quite enough to upset Niu Ai.
What good is it for that short sword
To hang on the wall, growling like thunder?
When from the foot of Tai mountain
Comes the sound of a woman weeping,
Government regulations forbid
Any official to dare to listen.³
Notes from The Collected Poems of Li He:
A satire on oppressive government, of which the tiger was the symbol. Caught between the Central Government and the warlords, the people are harassed as though by tigers.
More about Li He from The New York Review of Books:
Li He is the bad-boy poet of the late Tang dynasty. He began writing at the age of seven and died at twenty-six from alcoholism or, according to a later commentator, “sexual dissipation,” or both. An obscure and unsuccessful relative of the imperial family, he would set out at dawn on horseback, pause, write a poem, and toss the paper away. A servant boy followed him to collect these scraps in a tapestry bag.
Long considered far too extravagant and weird for Chinese taste, Li He was virtually excluded from the poetic canon until the mid-twentieth century. Today, as the translator and scholar Anne M. Birrell, writes, “Of all the Tang poets, even of all Chinese poets, he best speaks for our disconcerting times.” Modern critics have compared him to Rimbaud, Baudelaire, Keats, and Trakl.
Translated from the Chinese by Ming Di and Jennifer Stern
You have a strange pet—
one eye is a cat’s, the other a sheep’s.
Yet, it won’t socialize with felines,
will attack any flock of sheep.
On moonlit nights,
it wanders on roofs.
When you’re alone,
it will lie in your lap,
slowly studying you until—
on its face—a challenge.
Source: Liu, Xia, Di Ming, Jennifer Kronovet, Herta Müller, and Yiwu Liao. Empty Chairs: Selected Poems. 2015.
Begin reading about Liu Xia here and then Google her name and pay attention to learn more.
I encourage readers to purchase the book here, and listen to a conversation between poet Rachel Zucker and translator Jennifer Kronovet on a recent episode of the Commonplace Podcast. You can financially support (as I do) Commonplace Podcast—a brilliant, important project exploring the work of influential working artists—on Patreon.
this is arguable
the new edition
no echo no light
no echo no light
no echo no light
echo without tongue
a soft clumsy argument
departments and programs
new edition of the borrowed text
the new edition of the translation
the new edition of the new edition
in this it is arguable: in his preface
this preface to a treat without echo
departments and pronouns continue to
continue to tongue without imagination
west relates how many university translators
treat the translator’s invisibility without echo
to the new edition departments and programs
of soft clumsy giants this is arguable in his preface
kanye west relates how many university programs
imagine a soft clumsy giant ingrown in a mountain
as a linguistic brick rather than a humanity of fields
continue to treat the translator’s invisibility as a liability
black of warmth of a truce in warmth of death i live in black of death i live in that disappearing apparition you and the black bough of black of moments only i am the apparition that disappears believes without noticing you ask me with strings black moments on an order of space of the apparition you and the cleric in favor of death i live in what disappears and space and black the black of you under moments only i am sacerdotal of apparition your caresses but i do not confess you ask me forever print forever print forever print forever
defense minister avigdor liberman on sunday said us president donald trump did not ask for israels view before announcing his planned withdrawal of american troops from syria adding that the jewish state will likely have to operate alone against its various enemies he also slammed international criticism of the killing of nine palestinians during fridays clashes on the gaza border branding it hypocrisy and claiming there were no innocent people in gaza he later clarified that his use of the hebrew word tamim was intended to mean not innocent but naive president trump didnt ask me liberman said when asked during an interview with israel radio about the us plan to leave syria despite israeli fears of iranian-backed terror groups encroaching on its northern border i wouldnt presume to give advice that hasnt been requested from me
Source: Bachner, Michael. “Liberman Signals Trump Didn’t Consult with Israel on Syria Withdrawal.” The Times of Israel, 8 Apr. 2018. 10:15 a.m. Web.
It’s spring come out Esther you should
Take a walk in the pretty woods
The hens are clucking in the yard
Dawn’s pink folds are shooting skyward
And love is coming to steal your heart
Mars and Venus have come back anew
They give each other mad kisses
An innocent interlude
While beneath the fluttering roses
Lovely pink gods are dancing nude
So come my tenderness is queen
Of this flowering that appears
Nature is beautiful and touching
Pan is whistling in the trees
The wet frogs are singing
Source: Apollinaire, Guillaume. “Aubade Sung at Laetare a Year Ago.” Zone: Selected Poems. Trans. Ron Padgett. NYRB Poets, 2015. 25. Print.
pain if you ever forgive me i'm not silent i'm not know that premere il fiore il dolore il labbro già mi perdoni i'm not dischiusa meraviglia che orgoglio smisurato perché son debole d'argilla di una fibra dischiusa meraviglia che mi cresce dentro non so che chiama fibra di decifrare weak clay but premere il dolore se mai tu mi trattiene nellehich drag ma in fervide unghie del mio tempo tempo di demonio o di decifrare da un orrible step again drag me in fervide proud for they are m'assale e mi trattiene nellein if you ever forgive me devi i'm not silent premere il fiore