Shanshui: a type of landscape painting featuring mountains and rivers - For Xu Longsen
when did I arrive here? facing tracklessness mist unending on water behind me murderous fragrance of gardenia when did living become war’s smouldering ashes forever hung on a wall? ashes that sift an intoxication lovely as stone great rivers and mountains like a little essay let me step up into the wind’s howl my hearing sits on encircling cliffs an inky black pine exudes a numinous hand and delicately supports the lotus flowers deletion of what doesn’t stop an ever-moving poem that never again looks out of the poem my love of limits is near-limitless beside the window what birdsong is not the fallen and shattered cry of wild geese? held in the stone’s mouth scouring a famished fate an excess of moonlight a skiff berths at the focal point of the blur of silver waves the dying poet is always there heaving a bitter sigh of otherworldly anguish to sum up the rain-scribed mountain farther than the distant hills who does water float above? gardenia -perfumed wrists are stuck to insane scribbling on vast rivers of white snow here death is an inborn talent the beauty of the last brushstroke caresses all beauty when have I hung myself up to become the eerie dark tombstones around me and that eagerly-prostrating art?
YANG LIAN is one of China’s foremost contemporary poets in exile. He has published eleven collections of poems, two collections of prose and one selection of essays in Chinese. His work has been translated into more than twenty languages. English titles include Where the Sea Stands Still (Bloodaxe, 1999); Yi, a book-length poem (Green Integer, 2002); Concentric Circles, another book-length poem (Bloodaxe, 2005), Riding Pisces: Poems From Five Collections (Shearsman, 2008) and Lee Valley Poems (Bloodaxe, 2009). He is the co-editor of the anthology, Jade Ladder: Contemporary Chinese Poetry, published in 2012 by Bloodaxe Books. He lives in Berlin.
About the Translator:
BRIAN HOLTON (born 11 July 1949) is the translator of Chinese “Misty” poet Yang Lian, with whom he has performed work at numerous festivals, including London Poetry International, Salisbury Literature Festival, Edinburgh Book Festival, Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Aberdeen University Writers Festival, Ledbury Literature Festival, Taipei Literature Festival, Hong Kong International Literature Festival, and PEN International. He translates into English and Scots, and is the only currently-publishing Chinese-Scots translator in the world.
Read more by Yang Lian:
Poem at Poetry Foundation
17 poems at Poetry International
Two poems in Jacket 16
Poem in Dancing in Other Words
Three poems in Words Without Borders
Interview in Poetry Parnassus
Author’s website and links to other work online