Poetry of Mei YaoChen
Trip Start Jan 30, 2007
632Trip End Dec 31, 2011
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He wrote about reality.
He had low ambitions.
He didn't pass the Imperial Exams til he was 49 years old.
He lived in the shadow of his long time friend Ouyang Xiu.
He mourned the death of his cat.
He wrote about the loss of his wife, his baby son, and a baby daughter.
His ideal was to be 'pedestrian'.
Introducing Mei YaoChen.
He left behind 3,000 poems.
"Today as in ancient times/it's hard to write a simple poem."
I walk to East Stream to gaze at the water
and a boat late in shoving off as I sit by a lonely isle.
Wild ducks calmly sleeping by the shoreline.
No branch looks ugly when the old tree blooms
Short low rushes as if cut with scissors.
Sand so flat and pebbles smooth and clean as if sieved.
I don't dislike this place and yet I cannot stay.
In thin twilight I return by wagon, my horse exhausted.
---Translated by Tony Barnstone and Chou Ping
Writing of My Sorrow
Heaven's already taken my wife,
Now it's also taken my son.
My two eyes are still not dry,
My heart desires only death.
Rain falls and soaks into the earth,
A pearl sinks into the ocean's depths.
Dive in the sea and you can seek the pearl,
Dig in the earth and you can see the water.
Only people return to the source below.
For all of time. This we know.
I hold my chest; to whom now can I turn?
Emaciated, a ghost in the mirror.
Sacrifice to the Cat that Scared All the Rats
When I had my Five White cat,
The rats did not invade my books.
This morning Five White died,
I sacrifice with rice and fish.
I see you off in the middle of the river,
I chant for you: I won't neglect you.
Once when you'd bitten a rat,
You took it crying round the yard.
You wanted to scare all the rats,
So as to make my cottage clean.
Since we came on board this boat,
On the boat we've shared a room.
Although the grain is dry and scarce,
I eat not fearing piss or theft.
That's because of your hard work,
Harder working than chickens or pigs.
People stress their mighty steeds,
Saying nothing's like a horse or ass.
Enough- I'm not going to argue,
But cry for you a little.
When we two first became husband and wife
Was seventeen years ago today.
We couldn't look at each other enough,
What loss could compare to this?
Already, my temples are mostly white,
I'd rather my body had finished its time.
In the end, we'll share a tomb;
Still not dead, I weep and weep.
A Rural Home
The cock crows three times; the sky is almost light.
Someone's lined up bowls of rice, along with flasks of tea.
Anxiously, the peasants rush to start the ploughing early,
I pull aside the willow shutter and gaze at the morning stars.