Zheng Min 郑敏 (1920- )

Zheng Min 郑敏 (1920-) is the only living poet from the Nine Leaves circle. A witness of the early modernist poetry in China, she published poems in the 1940s while a student at the Southwest United University and then she went to study literature and philosophy at Brown University, USA. She returned to China in 1955 and has been teaching at the Beijing Normal University.


Golden rice stands in sheaves
in the newly cut autumn field.
I think of many exhausted mothers,
I see rugged faces along the road at dusk.
On the day of harvest, a full moon hangs
atop the towering trees,
and in the twilight, distant mountains
approach my heart.
Nothing is more quiet than this, a statue,
shouldering so much weariness –
you lower your head in thought
in the autumn field that stretches afar.
Silence. Silence. History is nothing
but a small stream flowing under your feet.
And you stand over there,
becoming a thought of humanity.


Tightly wrapped
with silk
the pale young body,
a lotus flower,
is buried five meters under the soil.
You and I
stand by the gravestone like stones
or stone horses.

We are buried in
all immortals.
The grave is closed, the sound
ringing in the world

One evening
I walk through a busy street
alone. Suddenly I smell
a lotus scent, and hear
an organ vaguely.
The mummy is sending a message
from the dark underground
five meters below.

A Glance
—Rembrandt: Young Girl at an Open Half-door

What’s beautiful are the two shoulders sinking
into the shadows locking the chest rich as an orchard.
Only the radiant face, a dream suddenly appearing,
corresponds to the slim fingers that rest on the low

gate. River of time carries away another leaf.
From her half lowering eyes, sphinxlike, flows out a tranquility
that dazzles. Her unchangeable calm is facing a limited life
when in a chance evening she casts a long glance
at this changing world.

Translated from the Chinese by Ming Di


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