Photo of Han Dong by Maghiel van Crevel


More poems and contributor notes in Chinese feature



Han Dong

Han Dong

For the Dusk or For Sorrow

Again the dusk arrives like this
it sticks to the glass
its appearance already not as lovely as the last
I watch it earnestly
of the things that move me only you remain
but I cannot leave the window to let you in
the sad face is outside the window
but I can't let it come in
I want to let it stay in silence
its eyes still keep their sorrow
I'm so familiar with this end of sadness
like the dog-ears in a book
in the places where my hand folded the corners
are passages I've read
today I'm unwilling to open it
don't welcome it in
so that you won't be with no place to hide
among the sound of my curses

March 22, 1986

I Hear Cups

At this moment, I hear cups
A series of exquisite sounds
monotonous, detached
At their clearest
formidable or faint
The city, at its brilliant core
needs some of this luster
Placed on a table
some shadows are needed
to heal their wounds
The undulation of water, the dispersal of smoke
They're used to the postures of night
Purity and charm
are still their estate
they still have a one percent hope
to lead a pure life
In the distance true darkness howls
but the cup still chimes
clearly, intensely
Held in a hand


A Paean to a Horse and the Sunlight

White sunlit sand and stone
on the main road, shows everything already prepared
people, animals, livestock all emerge out of a black dot
grow hands and feet, bodies and wheels
beneath the sun a horse hurries along
its mouth can't reach the green grass at its side
its tongue does not crop leaves in the dust
with the shadow of a branch the locust tree is on its back
the four wheels behind it all run away
in its original spot dust billowing as big as a house
the horse head stretches out through a window with no frame
Is a horse of another time the same horse
The same open country, same road
no branches of any kind or identifiable white clouds
the main road lies clear at a glance, the horse motionless in its original place
four legs like four match sticks standing straight
I see this scene from the face of the moon
at the same time it also remembers me in the large icehouse
at a certain time, on earth it is a quiet noon
and the motionless summer makes a burnt offering of a plough horse
on a crackling tobacco leaf


Translated by Michael Day