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Friday, February 05, 2010

Poetry Friday--"The Visitor"

We have a small collection of poetry from Asia in our adult section. I hope to add to it in the near future. For now, though, a few haiku books and a slim paperback called Three Chinese Poets [895.1 THR] will provide plenty of poetry to share. In Three Chinese Poets, poems of Wang Wei, Li Bai, and Du Fu have been translated by Vikram Seth. If the name Vikram Seth sounds familiar, it should, Seth is an accomplished novelist whose work includes, most notably, A Suitable Boy [F SET], a book of 1349 pages.

The poems by the three Chinese poets are surprising short, most take up less than a half page. All three poets can be considered ancient in that they lived in the 700s. Their poems, though, are full of the same emotions that poets today write about--love of nature, loneliness, friendship, etc.

Here is one by Du Fu:
The Visitor

South and north of my house lies springtime water,
And only flocks of gulls come every day.
The flower path's unswept: no guests. The gate
Is open: you're the first to come this way.
The market's far: my food is nothing special.
The wine, because we're poor, is an old brew--
But if you wish I'll call my ancient neighbour
Across the fence to drink it with us two.
How well Du Fu has incorporated both longing and contentment into one brief poem!

Photo of Du Fu's cottage by Pat Rioux


Check out the Poetry Friday Round-Up at Great Kid Books.

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