A Winter Poem (excerpts)
Years later he again climbed the Great Wall, and felt the power
of its uselessness.
Snow still falls, closely woven and almost invisible in the
gloom: like a kind of love, still caressing the land wearied
from another year of toil.
Raising my head from my winter writings, I once again felt my
Beijing; a city right in front of my eyes and far off in another
He will always be a child stuck in mud. He yearns to cry, but
hasnít learned to curse.
Since winterís arrival, fog has reappeared on the field. Perhaps
the fog is a language too, a voice of the field, muttering as it
wafts across the road before slipping away into the marsh.
A father writes a letter to his far off son. At last he
finishes, and rips it up⎯ a surfeit of pain, with no one left to
Last night a cold front swarmed in, and this morning the fields
shone silvery-white. The frost-tipped weeds glistened on the
roadside. A cold wind still stirs. If the ocean were beside us,
it would certainly be an illusion. It would certainly turn blue
in this bone-penetrating force.
He burns away his earlier writings as if evading his taxes. He
will keep burning, until he's nothing left in the world.
This winter has aged almost everyone I see. You will grow older
still, old enough to look towards the direction of youth.
A friend from the city has come to the countryside to appreciate
the snowscapes. Why not move out here? You can watch the
bursting afterglow of dusk, and listen with us to the northwest
wind rising from the night, whistling from the fissures between
our two souls.
It isn't when the fog lifts, but rather when a longing for home
becomes all the more clear, that we finally pay attention to the
existence of a horse.
So many new pubs popping up, but Paris it is not. What is
missing? It lacks a river, flowing out from our bodies; a wind,
rising from substance.
Years later he again unrolled the Qingming River Scroll: not for
its transcendent brushstrokes, but to return to everyday life;
to move among carriages and oxen; to yield to the power of life
itself; to sell his soul to the bordello next to the big willow.
It isn't an ache, but rather a bodily twitch that comes from a
certain kind of writing.
Again a blast of northwest wind chases from the rear. How
difficult it is to drive when guided by the snowy fog! You keep
your eye on the road, but thereís more out there than the road
A stage is raised. Only a clown can bring holidays to children.
(translated by Kyle Borner)
from A Darkening Mirror
Loving trees and stones: the root of all ethics.
The Age advances, and at dusk more girls appear, with tinted
hair, beckoning from the roadside. Why not pull over? What have
you left to be proud of? Do you really think your noble soul,
compared to one of their combs, is more enduring?
Though the wine lies heavy on your mind, forgotten wounds stab
sharper than a spike.
Someday youíll recall the little restaurant buzzing with flies
on the edge of Beijing: how we sat gazing at the glorious lights
of the far-off Hilton, seeing for the first time how humiliation
smites the destitute.
Airport shut down, a blizzard madly filling in the sea; no
homecoming, but one kind of dialogue, grown difficult.
Those who know how to live in deep cold save a plot of earth in
the yard to sow sunflowers.
Time to take down your ex-loverís painting, but under the eye of
the new mistress of the house, where can you put it?
Having lived from then till now, belief is hard, but disbelief
Gold corn moldering, crops rotting in the field. Old man on the
doorstep, staring in the soft autumn rain. What makes you turn
from bitter glances? Why are you always ashamed to write poems
about fruitless human labor?
If a donkey claims heís a Great Poet, you bow solemnly, for this
is The Land of Poetry.
As you grow old, that first thin gleam of scorn in your sonís
eyes comes like an undeserved gift on a holiday long awaited.
This is the music I love, coughs from the audience as the master
performs: I resume my seat in darkness.
Itís not that youíre growing older; your mirror is just darker.
Itís not that youíre growing older; dining alone just takes
Itís not that the hometown girls are loose; just that the sailor
back from the storm went blind long ago.
Daily you polish your roomís pine floor. To prepare for life
with a barefoot angel who never appears? There is no angel. From
a corner of your ceiling descends a fat spider.
You arise in the morning and listen to the organ, at dusk the
violin, and evening the piano; but awakened at night, you hear
Restoring faith in life is like stamping your feet in winter;
warmth returns, then you stride off further in the snow.
Years since your last trip to the zoo: sheís still drawn to the
Hall of Snakes, but as you no longer wish to see tigers or
swans, you head straight for Monkey Hill, thronged with
When his lifetime of writing is finished, like a term of hard
labor, I think heíll step from the room and look far away,
murmuring to himself: Child, now I feel the sunís warmth, and
from your garden hear your daughterís laughter . . .
(trans. by John Crespi,Diana Shi & George OíConnell)
Wang Jiaxin, poet, critic and professor of Chinese at Renmin
University of China. Born in 1957 in a small town in Hubei
Province, In 1978 he entered Wuhan University as one of the
first group of college students after the Cultural Revolution.
In 1985 he came to Beijing and worked as an editor for the
journal Poetry (Shikan). From 1992 through 1994 he sojourned in
England . In 1994 he returned to China and got a teaching
position at Beijing Teacherís College. Since 2006 he has been
teaching creative writing in the School of Literary Studies at
Renmin University in Beijing.
Wang published the following books of poetry: Memorial (1985),
Floating Precipice (1997), Poetry of Wang Jiaxin (2001), and
Selected Poems of Wang Jiaxin (2008). The collections of his
literary and critical essays include Meeting of Human and the
World (1989), A Nightingale in Its Time (1997), The Passion for
Concealment (1997), Poetry Without Heroes (2002),Seeking a place
for phoenix: on modern Chinese poetry（2008），Regale me with
Wang is also a translator of Paul Celanís poems and an editor of
many poetry collections: Selected Chinese Contemporary
Experimental Poetry (1987),20th Century Foreign Poets on Poetry
(1992), Collected Writings of Yeats (3 vols., 1996), Poems from
Modern European and American Poets (3 vols., 2003), Chinese
Poetry in the 1990s (2000), Best Poems of Contemporary Chinese
Jiaxin Wangís poetry has received critical recognition in China.
He is regarded as one of the most important poets of China in
the last twenty years.His poetry has been translated into many
languages and he had readings in many countries in the world.