24.9.08

shadow of a lone goose...

Su Tung-p’o

Pu suan tzu


A fragment moon hangs from the bare tung tree
The water clock runs out, all is still
Who sees the dim figure come and go alone
Misty, indistinct, the shadow of a lone wild goose?

Startled, she gets up, looks back
With longing no one sees
And will not settle on any of the cold branches
Along the chill and lonely beach

            (Trans. uncertain)


~


W. S. Merwin

A Letter to Su Tung P’o


Almost a thousand years later
I am asking the same questions
you did the ones you kept finding
yourself returning to as though
nothing had changed except the tone
of their echo growing deeper
and what you knew of the coming
of age before you had grown old
I do not know any more now
than you did then about what you
were asking as I sit at night
above the hushed valley thinking
of you on your river that one
bright sheet of moonlight in the dream
of water birds and I hear
the silence after your questions
how old are the questions tonight

             - from The New Yorker

8 comments:

esk said...

"Pu suan tzu" -- eery and somewhat desolate poem. I enjoyed it. Thanks for sharing.

sam of the ten thousand things said...

Thanks for the read, Erika - here and in notebook.

Pris said...

It's a beautiful poem.

sam of the ten thousand things said...

Thanks for reading, Pris.

LKD said...

"Who sees the dim figure come and go alone,
misty, indistinct, the shadow of a lone wild goose?"

The poet.

The poet.

I've returned and returned to this poem. It's inside me.

I feel like it was inside me before I ever read it.

Every night I stand in the dark and consider the moon and the stars and listen to the crickets sing their hearts out and wonder if I'm the only person right at that moment waiting.

What is the translation of the title?

It's spooky reading this ghost of a poem.

Do you think the poet had any idea that his voice would speak so clearly, so resoundingly all these centuries later?

sam of the ten thousand things said...

If Su Tung-p'o is thinking centuries from his pen, there's no way his work stands in his time or today. If you look too hard at the matter, it disappears. Thanks for the read, Laurel.

poetwithadayjob said...

That is a gorgeous Su Tung-p'o poem - it achieves a quietness I aspire to in my own work. I will look more into him more...

sam of the ten thousand things said...

I'm drawn to the dark motions in his work. Great poet. Thanks for the read, Melissa.