Art and Aesthetics · Death

Poem Without a Title 20


In late March, just as the last cool winds escaped Shenzhen and bonded with the mist over the South China Sea, I soared over the streets. The dry golden leaves of a long Autumn were finally falling – perhaps the only happening in Shenzhen that was behind the times. With every violent gust of wind, I heard their thousands of crackling murmurs and whispers, as if cursing the aimless kicks of people’s shoes, or the dull inevitability of their demise. I rarely fly in the afternoon, dreading that empty feeling where the brain is sick of itself but has nowhere to flee.

锦瑟无端五十弦,  jǐn sè  wú duān  wǔ shí xián
一弦一柱思华年。  yī xián yī zhù sī huá nián
庄生晓梦迷蝴蝶,  zhuāng shēng xiǎo mèng mí hú dié
望帝春心托杜鹃    wàng dì chūn xīn tuō  dù juān
沧海月明珠有泪,  cāng hǎi yuè  míng zhū yǒu lèi
蓝田日暖玉生烟。  lán tián rì nuǎn yù shēng yān
此情可待成追忆,  cǐ qíng kě dāi chéng zhuī yì
只是当时已惘然。  zhǐ shì dāng shí yǐ wǎng rán

No matter that the zither has fifty strings,
Each string, each bridge, a year gone by,
Zhuangzi’s 1 morning dreams, mystic, magic butterflies,
The Emperor’s 2 thirst for love, to a cuckoo entrust.
Above the azure sea, the bright moon, a pearly tear, touched
As the day warms, by jade mist rising from Indigo fields.
Emotions return, forgotten memories,
Vague, all places forever lost.3


About the Calligraphy
锦瑟无端五十弦,一弦一柱思华年。No matter that the zither has 50 strings or so, Each string, each bridge recalls my younger years  (2 rows, 14 characters, Cursive Cao Script): M.O. Ndesandjo

1.  The disciple of Confucius, who dreamed he was butterfly who in turn dreamt he was a man.

 Refers to an emperor who was soul was trapped in the body of a cuckoo

3.  According to legend, the 25 stringed zither originally had 50 strings. When the White Maid goddess refused to play for her husband, he angrily broke it into two pieces.

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