25 April 2012

National Poetry Month: 25


Because it’s spring. . . . The original version of this poem was written by Su Tung P’o (1037 – 1101), then rendered and revised into an English-language poem by Kenneth Rexroth (1905 – 1982). Some things have changed about spring since these men wrote, and many things haven’t. This is from the collection One Hundred Poems from the Chinese:

A Walk in the Country


The spring wind raises fine dust from the road.
Everybody is out, enjoying the new leaves.
Strollers are drinking in the inns along the way.
Cart wheels roll over the young grass.
The whole town has gone to the suburbs.
Children scamper everywhere and shout to the skies.
Songs and drum beats scare the hills
And make the leaves tremble on the trees.
Picnic baskets and jugs litter the fields
And put the crows and kites to flight.
Who is that fellow who has gathered a crowd?
He says is a Taoist monk.
He is selling charms to the passersby.
He shouts, waves his hands, rolls his eyes.
“If you raise silk, these will
Grow cocoons as big as pitchers.
If you raise stock, these will
Make the sheep as big as elks.”
Nobody really believes him.
It is the spirit of spring in him they are buying.
As soon as he has enough money
He will go fill himself with wine
And fall down drunk,
Overcome by the magic of his own charms.


– Su Tung P’o/Kenneth Rexroth

3 comments:

sfmike said...

This may be my favorite of your Poetry Month collection so far.

Patrick J. Vaz said...

Thank you -- you know, I posted this and thought, "I'll bet this will be Mike's favorite." It's always gratifying to hear that I am correct.

sfmike said...

You are psychic, or perhaps you just intelligently intuited that I would sympathize with the phrase, "Overcome by the magic of his own charms."