Bei Dao:



Bei Dao (pseudonym of Zhao Zhenkai), one of China's foremost poets of the "misty school," was born in 1949 in Beijing. Both his father, an administrative cadre, and his mother, a medical doctor, came from traditional, middle-class Shanghai families. During the Cultural Revolution, Bei joined the Red Guard movement, expecting a spirit of cooperation between the Chinese Communist Party and the country's intellectual elite. Like many other middle-class youth, however, he soon became disillusioned with Chinese society and was later sent to the countryside, where he became a construction worker. Living in total isolation in the mountains outside Beijing increased his youthful melancholy and prompted him and many of his contemporaries to explore a more spiritual approach to life.  


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(translated by Bonnie McDougall and Chen Maiping)

The storm endured by the rat
inside the organ pauses

Daytime lengthens
the human figure is earth's far prospect
absolute true pitch
absolute sky

While the tune is yet unfinished
the composer's score blows away
recalled by the storm.

(translated by Bonnie McDougall and Chen Maiping)

A swarm of country moths attack the city
street lamps, ghostly faces
slender legs supporting the night's sky

Where there are ghosts, there's history
underground lodes unmarked on the map
are Prague's stout nerves

Kafka's childhood passed through the square
the dream plays truant, the dream
is the stern father, enthroned above the clouds

Where there's a father, there's a right of succession
a rat strolls throught the palace corridors
shadowy attendants cluster round

The caléche that set out from the century's gate
has turned into a tank along the road
truth is choosing its enemies

Where there's truth, there's forgetfulness
swaying like a stamen in the breeze, the trunk
has dropped a dusty curse

Crossing time's bridge over the Vlatava
one enters the dazzling daylight
thee ancient statues are full of hate

Where there's hate, there's glory
the pedlar mysteriously spreads out a piece of velvet
please buy good weather where pearls join together



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