Like a J.S.Bach fugue, an Escher drawing, a mystical mathematical iteration, even an oil painting, the words in my poems intertwine, mingle, overlap and repeat.
Jia She was a beautiful woman who captured the heart of Han Chong, a minor government official. Mi Fei was the King Of Wei’s beautiful concubine. I wrote this poem for my wife, who I often left behind when I was posted to distant parts of the empire. In the telling, love has its own physics, in particular a law of conservation where the pain of love equals its pleasure.
The poem simultaneously constitutes the peal of thunder, jade with its connotations of sensuality, the smoking flame of unrequited love, and ancient tales of courtesans and Romeos. Thunder, it is said, is an angry god who rides a chariot drawn by spirits of the dead. All these themes weave through sounds, sights, shapes and colors.
飒飒东风细雨来，sà sà dōng fēng xì yǔ lái
芙蓉塘外有轻雷。fú róng táng wài yǒu qīng léi
金蟾啮销烧香入，jīn chán niè xiāo shāo xiāng rù
玉虎牵丝汲井回。yù hǔ qiān sī jí jǐng huí
贾氏窥帘韩掾少，jiǎ shì kuī lián hán yuàn shǎo
宓妃留枕魏王才。mì fēi liú zhěn wèi wáng cái
春心莫共花争发，chūn xīn mò gòng huā zhēng fā
一寸相思一寸灰。yī cùn xiāng sī yī cùn huī
Sa! Sa! The West Wind brings a scattering rain, a rattling thunder
Beyond the hibiscus on the bank’s far side.
The stove’s golden frog fails to lock out the scent of incense,
While my jade tiger gently draws water from your well.
Lady Jia peeks through the drapes at young Secretary Han,
Princess Mi Fei prepares her pillow for brilliant Prince Wei.
So many flowers cannot dispel love’s pleasure and pain,
For each inch of love, an inch of ashes. Alas no gain!
About the Calligraphy
飒飒东风细雨来，芙蓉塘外有轻雷。Sa! Sa! The West Wind brings a scattering rain, , a rattling thunder beyond the hibiscus on the bank’s far side. (2 rows, 14 characters, Cursive Cao Script): M.O. Ndesandjo