best thoughts, photography, picture story, poetry, travel, Uncategorized

A morning in travel time: Why is your poetry so normal?

With a favorite poet


“Poetry does not feed a physical hunger,” she said. “But I persisted because of how it has allowed me to develop as a person spiritually.”
“If you are too focused on the technical elements – getting the how and what right – you can forget the why. The why, for me, is what makes the poem succeed.
“Writing is a form of prayer for me,”
“It is never about you as the writer, but the art you bring to society.”
(Quotes from poet Anne Lee Tzu Pheng)

Excerpts from her poem “Why is your poetry so normal?”
Because this is meant to be human;
a familiar voice, plain, intelligible,
and close to home.
Somewhere in you, I know,
you have the same voice too…
Why should I choose
to lose you in a maze as if I’m, hiding from you? I’d rather
take your hand and lead us through.
This crazy road of life
is challenging enough.
So listen: what’s worth saying
is worth saying strong and clear,
for the words we catch to serve us
will work their worth and more, if not
mistreated, disrespected, or despised-
become abnormal utterance-
as would be done, if used to make a poem
it’s unmade before begun.”
(Excerpts from “Why is your poem so normal?” from Catching Connections, poems, prosexcursions, crucifictions, 2012)

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a haiku story: Dear Love, love story, photography, poetry, woman story

a love poem to end and to begin

a-new-beginningI suddenly feel that I must give you a poem. I have no original poem good enough for you. So I give you my translation of another poet from a distant land. I pray you are well and strong. I found your old picture in my long forgotten album. The same smile. The same wind-blown hair. The same frown as you look into the bright light. I really like this dream for a moment. A new Anticipation .

[A First Meeting] (translated by this blogger)
a beautiful dream and poem alike
perchance spontaneous musing
often in stunning moments revealed

I like this kind of dream

wherein we always begin afresh
slowly unhurriedly explaining all
forlorn time bygone feeling retold
restoring ecstatic gratitude of old

my heart overflowing with glee
because you are here with me
you smile as in years that flee

I really like this kind of dream

I know you have traveled thousands of miles for me
yet I feel like the fisherman who has stumbled into your world anew*
like we have just met afresh

[初相遇](original by a Mongolian painter and poetess Xi-Mu-Rong)
美丽的梦和美丽的诗一样
都是可遇而不可求的
常常在最没能料到的时刻里出现

我喜欢那样的梦
在梦里 一切都可以重新开始
一切都可以慢慢解释
心里甚至还能感觉到所有被浪费的时光
竟然都能重回时的狂喜和感激

胸怀中满溢著幸福
只因为你就在我眼前
对我微笑 一如当年
我真喜欢那样的梦

明明知道你已为我跋涉千里
却又觉得芳草鲜美 落英缤纷
好像你我才初初相遇

*The original phrase describing a beautiful scenery “fragrant grass and profuse fallen petals” was quoted from a fable about a fisherman who stumbled into a utopian world, written around 421 AD by Tao-Yan-Ming, a famous politician poet.

daughter of God, poetry, thoughts, why not woman, woman writers, women, writing

So, let our lives Be full of dreams

bingxinA few poems quoted at random from Spring Water (published 1923) by Bingxin (Chinese: “Pure in Heart”), a woman poet from China.

Spring Water

1

Water in spring,

It is another year,

And you are still running after the breeze.

May I have a look at

My reflection again?

Water replies gently with thanks:

“My friend,

I have never kept a reflection,

Not even yours.”

2

The four seasons slowly pass by-

Hundreds of flowers whisper to each other:

“We are the small and weak!

So, let our lives

Be full of dreams

And our drinking cups

Sentimental,

For God has already arranged all these!”

3

Young People!

You should be

As still and sober as mountains, if

You can’t float with winds,

The flowing wind-like career

Only belongs to the lives of poets.

6

Poets!

Do not grieve nature.

The picture of “beauty”

Needs to be painted lightly.

52

In the slightly tiring

Deep thought,

The pigeon whistles

Carried on the wind,

Pierce the air for poems.

58

Ice is as quiet as a mountain,

But a mountain is as vivid as flowing water.

How can the poet

Manipulate them like this?

~~~~~~~~

Biography of Bing Xin (1900 – 1999)

Bing Xin was one of the most outstanding modern female writers in China. Originally named Xie Wanying; born in Changle, Fujian Province. Bing Xin was the pioneer of the canon of children’s literature in modern China. Her parents encouraged her to study and write. In 1919, when she was studying in a girl college in Beijing, the event May 4th Movement by the students in Beijing changed her life. and she was in charge of the publicity in the student union. She wrote many related poems, articles, and stories.

In 1919, she published her first piece Two Families under the pen name “Bing Xin”. In 1921, she joined the Literary Research Society. In 1923, she amazed the literary circle with her short poems when they were published in two separate collections, Myriad Stars and Spring Water. In the same year, She went to America to study literature and focused her attention on literary research. She recounted her travels and experiences of her stay abroad in a series of essays, and published them in newspapers in China. These essays caused a national sensation and were later collected and published under the title of Letters to My Little Readers.

In 1926, Bing returned to China after receiving her M.A. degree. She taught at Yanjing University, later at Tsinghua University, and Beijing Women’s College of Arts and Sciences. In 1946, she went to Japan with her husband Wu Wenzao and taught at Tokyo University. She went back to China in 1951. Upon her return, she published a collection of poems, Ode to Cherry Blossoms, and a collection of essays, The Second Batch of Letters to My Little Readers. Apart from writing, Bing Xin also translated a number of foreign literary works. With the reputation “the grandmother of the literary circle” earned through her longevity, she passed away in 1999 at the age of 99.

Love Life

Her love story with Wu Wenzao, a famous sociologist and ethnologist, started in 1923 on a ship that sailed from Shanghai. The ship was bound for the United States, and Bing met Wu when she was searching for the brother of one of her classmates.

In 1929, the two got married while studying in the United States. Together, they became an internationally well-known couple in intellectual circles all over the world, mingling with other literary luminaries such as Virginia Woolf.

Their story was one of those love stories that have captured the hearts and imaginations of the Chinese public for decades. Many of them have been adapted for the big screen as well as for television. In a world where buildings fall, relationships end and economies collapse almost overnight, their tales remind us of the endurance of real love.

(the above are quoted and excerpted from various internet sources)

biography, poetry, thoughts, why not woman, woman story

Don’t tell me women are not the stuff of heroes

Don’t tell me women
are not the stuff of heroes,
I alone rode over the East Sea’s
winds for ten thousand leagues.
My poetic thoughts ever expand,
like a sail between ocean and heaven.
I dreamed of your three islands,
all gems, all dazzling with moonlight.
I grieve to think of the bronze camels,
guardians of China, lost in thorns.
Ashamed, I have done nothing;
not one victory to my name.
I simply make my war horse sweat.
Grieving over my native land
hurts my heart. So tell me;
how can I spend these days here?
A guest enjoying your spring winds?

(poem by Qiu Jin, Chinese feminist & revolutionary martyr)

Qiu Jin (1875–1907) was a Chinese writer & poet, a strong-willed feminist who is considered a national hero in China. Also called “Jianhu Nüxia” (Woman Knight of Mirror Lake”), she was executed after participating in a failed uprising against the Qing Dynasty.

Qiu Jin was born in 1875 to a family of the gentry, and received an excellent education as was typical for a young woman of her position. She always loved to write, and in this period of her life she wrote many joyful poems on subjects ranging from flowers and the four seasons to visiting historical places and domestic activities. She also wrote about female heroes and warriors from Chinese history, in inspiring poems about their strength, courage, and beauty. One of her poems begins“Don’t tell me women / are not the stuff of heroes” (as above quoted). Her poetry reflected her self-confidence and desire to become an excellent female writer as valued by traditional Chinese culture.

When Qiu Jin was 19, she obeyed her father and married the son of a wealthy merchant, against her own wishes. Qiu became extremely unhappy in her marriage. She wrote of her husband, “That person’s behavior is worse than an animal’s….He treats me as less than nothing.” and “When I think of him my hair bristles with anger, it’s absolutely unbearable.” Her previous self-confidence was shaken and her dreams of becoming a recognized poet were abandoned. Her poetry from this period of her life was full of self-doubt and loneliness.

During this period Qiu also began writing poetry about current events and the fate of China. After hearing of events such as the Boxer Rebellion and occupation of Beijing, she used her poetry, with literary allusion to heroines of the past, to express her concern about the fate of China and Chinese women. Qiu longed to serve her country but realized that that wasn’t possible as long as she was trapped in a conventional married life. Her marriage was an important catalyst in her development as a feminist and revolutionary.

In 1903, Qiu Jin moved with her husband to Beijing where he had purchased an official post. In Beijing, Qiu started reading feminist writings and became interested in women’s education.

Qiu Jin finally left her husband in 1903, leaving to study in Japan. She became vocal in her support for women’s rights, pressed for improved access to education for women in her journals and speech, and spoke out against the practice of foot-binding. Returning to China in 1905, she joined the Triads, an underground society who advocated for the overthrow of the Qing Dynasty, and other anti-Qing societies both Chinese and Japanese. She admired the Japanese for their disciplined military spirit and thought that it played an important role in the modernization of Japan.

“With all my heart I beseech and beg my two hundred million female compatriots to assume their responsibility as citizens. Arise! Arise! Chinese women, arise!”

In 1906 Qiu founded her own journal, “Zhongguo nubao” (Chinese women’s journal), which featured nationalist and feminist writings. Unlike traditional and other nationalist views that held women’s place as mothers and educators in a traditional family role, Qiu Jin saw the traditional family as oppressive to women.

Qiu was appointed head of the Datong school in the city of Shaoxing, Zhejiang Province, in 1907. The school was supposedly for sport teachers, but was actually used for the military training of revolutionaries. In the final years of her life, she frequently cross-dressed, wearing western-style men’s clothing, and practiced military drills and training with her students. She became well-known as a chivalrous woman for helping the poor and weak.

At this time, Qiu was working with her cousin Xu Xilin to unite and train fellow revolutionaries who also believed that China needed a western-style government. On July 6, 1907, Xu was caught and tortured for information before an uprising they had scheduled in Anqing in Angui Province. He was executed the next day.

Qiu Jin learned about her cousin’s death and the failed uprising a few days later. She was warned that officials would be coming for her at the Datong school, but she stayed anyway, writing to her sword sister Xu Yunhua that she was determined to die for the cause. On July 13, Qiu was arrested. Even after being tortured she refused to talk about her involvement in the scheduled uprising, but incriminating evidence was found at the school. On July 15, 1907, Qiu Jin was beheaded publicly in her home village of Shanyin, at the age of 31.

Shocked by the brutal execution of a woman, many Chinese were strengthened in their resentment of the Qing dynasty. Qiu Jin immediately became a national hero, and was the subject of poetry, drama, and numerous works of fiction. Much of her writing, including her poetry and letters to family and friends, was published after her death.

To this day, Qiu Jin is a symbol of women’s independence in China. She is now buried by Xī Hú (West Lake) in Hangzhou, where a statue of her marks her tomb.

(Above quoted from: KeriLynn Engel, Amazing Women In History)

Qui Jin, at one level, was an oriental twentieth-century Judith, the mythical Jewish widow from Bethulia who cut off the head of Holofernes, the Assyrian general besieging the city, thus saving the Israelites from destruction. Qui Jin was, as Judith was, a self-reliant heroine who when others seemed ‘helpless and demoralized undertook to save them single-handedly’, or in her case virtually single-handedly. This, of course, was both her making and her unmaking. In Chinese terms the story of Qui Jin, like the story of Judith if less famous, less publicised, more recent, is the story of an icon at once central and at the same time marginal to tradition. She contradicted the most cherished customs on Confucian Chinese culture. She was a radical force who thrust her way to the centre of the concentric circles of customs surrounding this culture and was pushed back to the margins by conservatism. Nevertheless Qui Jin was not without success. She challenged a long-established mythology of exclusively masterful patriarchy – and created a counter myth of purposeful patriotic feminism. She was a counter-cultural icon who changed perceptions of Chinese femininity. She gave courage, confidence and purpose to those women who came after her and absorbed her ambitions for modern Chinese womanhood. For them she was a modern national heroine and a personification of a modern nation of equal men and women. For Qui Jin the body was an instrument of female revolution to be trained, strengthened and prepared for confrontation. As a revolutionary militant she was a failure; as a revolutionary talisman she was a success. For the Chinese women of the 1911 Revolution hers was an exemplary emancipatory story: subscribe, struggle, sacrifice. Patriotism through feminism is the purpose. Her heroism was firmly outside the historic patriarchal order. Her adulation is thus all the more remarkable because of the profound traditions she rejected, the controversial mannerisms she adopted, the uncompromising attitudes she embraced. She eschewed motherhood, abandoned marriage, dismissed femininity, and yet won acclaim in the most traditional of cultures. Qui Jin was hardly a cynosure of universal acclaim but she was admired, respected and emulated by radical Chinese women and men seeking a new society accommodating women. Her modern feminism struggled to overcome an ancient patriarchy. Here was her appeal. She exuded no moral ambiguity. Consequently, if she was demonized by the conventional; she was deified by the radical – and inspired them as the contemplated and attempted to construct the future. There is a point, of course, that should not be overlooked. Qui Jin, in fact, is not divorced from occidental culture and political iconography. Qui Jin is closely associated with the attitudes, aspirations and fantasies of modern Western feminism. As Margarita Stocker observes, a ‘romantic heroine, angry feminist, radical, activist is one example of a pervasive figure’, in modern Western cultural mythology ‘a figure we may sum up as the Woman with a Gun’. Force, that potent means to power, is available to the gun user irrespective of age of sex, with a resulting ‘crucial alteration in the sexual politics of violence’. The Woman with a Gun can now be emphatically heroic – without duplicity, without deceitfulness, without subterfuge. Moral ambiguity in action has been abandoned. She becomes an unambiguous potent force – an armed woman faces an armed man on equal terms – physically, psychologically, morally. Equality offers the legal right and responsibility to kill in the name of patriotism. Modern culture has just caught up with Qui Jin.

(Abstract quoted from: Fan H, Mangan JA. J Hist Sport. 2001;18(1):27-54. doi: 10.1080/714001489.)

photography, poetry, writing

they dress

early springearly surprises

dreaming Spring calling arise

putting on best dress

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~This picture was taken in the depth of Winter. A neighbor’s front yard was suddenly in blooms. Lovely surprises. In the winter of human lives too, we make efforts to rise from bed, take a bath, comb our hair, put on colors and dress up. Is any guest coming? We do not really consider that when we do this dressing ritual. Human keeps ritual to maintain hygiene and sanity. So do other living things. They are not exactly things. They are living. All living beings have a beauty ritual to keep. And these flowers decorate themselves faithfully in the short burst of sunlight for the brief period of a semblance of Spring time, in the amazing grace of their Creator. Why be a beast when you can be a beauty?

The flowers appear on the earth; The time of singing has come, And the voice of the turtledove Is heard in our land.
Bible promises, daughter of God, haiku, poetry, thoughts, travel

a face of winter: a haiku

green wintershe looks out the train

and sees a face of winter

clear and bright and green

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~on her way down west she looks out and sees a spectacular green view in the depth of winter. It is close to evening and the sun is shinning. The field on the plain gives fresh hope of a renewal at hand even on old ground and hardened crust. she knows her 83 years old mother is a fighter. She believes in God. She is not going to give up despite the fracture and replacement of some body parts. She smiles when she thinks of her new born baby granddaughter, a new life has burst forth like an early spring, again a sign of fresh determined hope. She looks forward to this reunion with her own mother. When her mother is well enough to be on her own again, she will travel east to meet with her husband, her youngest daughter and the baby grand daughter. She smiles. God is so good.

12 The righteous will flourish like a palm tree,
    they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;
13 planted in the house of the Lord,
    they will flourish in the courts of our God.
14 They will still bear fruit in old age,
    they will stay fresh and green,
15 proclaiming, “The Lord is upright;
    he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.”

(Psalm 92:12-15)

children's poetry, daughter of God, God's creation, grand-aunt's story, haiku, mother's story, photography, poetry, thoughts, travel

grand-aunt’s visit 23: once a bird (a haiku)

once a bird

she was once a bird

a mother perhaps in time

sadly snared and caged

~~~~~~~~Visiting museum is not the senior’s favorite. Because she prefers to see life, its vibrance, enthusiasm and hope. The museum records a past. There is no hope there. There is hope in the future. Where are the children of this bird if any? The grand-aunt cannot help but wonder. That is why she prefers to visit the botanical garden and the aquarium. But the birds are not the only ones snared and caged in museums. Many others share the same fate too. Even human. How she looks forward to hearing the songs of the living birds again in her own garden, a tiny park in front of her home.

~~~~~~~~

Song of Solomon 2:12 The flowers are springing up, the season of singing birds has come, and the cooing of turtledoves fills the air.

children's poetry, daughter of God, God's creation, grand-aunt's story, haiku, photography, poetry, thoughts, travel

Grand-aunt’s visit 22: cloudy perception (a haiku)

winter haikudo you see the dog?

the puzzled boy shook his head

gold caterpillar

~~~~~~~~~~~The senior remarks: Often we see with what we already see in the mind: While I am thinking of my little dog alone waiting for me to return after this visit, you are thinking of your outdoor discovery lesson. But what does the cloud really look like? It does not matter. It’s your eyes working with your mind. The point is: You cannot come to a conclusion for others. You can only conclude your own life.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Fire and hail, snow and clouds; Stormy wind, fulfilling His word; (Psalm 148:8)

a haiku story: Dear Love, daughter of God, haiku, love story, photography, poetry, power of words, seasons, thoughts, why not woman, woman writers

drops of her heart: a haiku

rain seen through glass 2

she expects the rain

lightly and gently it falls

every drop a heart

~~~~~~Shapes of things are seen clearly with her heart. The physical shapes may not look what she actually sees. She knows it is more real inside than outside. Love too.

a haiku story: Dear Love, haiku, love story, photography, poetry, thoughts, travel

Too far for tears: a haiku letter

so far from shore

Too far for my heart

draining silent tears at night

an ocean apart

~~~~~~~~~~~~Although I know we shall not try to communicate unless there is urgency to say something to make sure the other party know first hand what is happening, I still take up the phone often in an absent-minded way, pointing my index finger at the app. icon, in the process of touching the link to your screen. Then again, I check myself and tell my heart that I should not do it as you will be quite busy rushing to finish your speed reading assignment of the several hundreds of books within the time frame of a costly journey. Me too, my mind will remind me that I have tons of lectures to cramp into my brain on this side of the ocean. Alas, we are so far apart after all, each chewing words and papers day and night and night and day. sometimes I feel like these birds perched on a tiny rock in the middle of the ocean, focused on their current lives. Do they have a family somewhere on land, high on the cliff overlooking the vast water? I read that gulls do take care of their young birds until they are ready to fly away and become independent. I also read that gulls fly alone. In a way you and I are like them. We are not confined to a space. We move on with the currents of time. Sometimes I look at the photos you send and smile. You seem so young smiling with the sunset ocean behind you blowing gold specks on your wind swept hair. I told you you still look good. I have sent you the snow scene from the mountain here. You have commented that I look young and pretty. We have somehow stepped away from time. The time of stagnation. How amazing it is that I can make myself type so many words here for you. Telling you I have missed our time. Yes, like the birds at sea, I have flown too far. You too. Too far for tears to cry aloud. I just wake up to hear the seemingly dripping sound of tears draining from my heart. I still miss you. Thank you for the roses.