Gao Chunlin







Anliang, the Town and the Word


First, mark it on the map, then

mark it on your body, so part of what happened is lit up,

and the word follows a cycle of rising and falling.

This should be thought about from a few years ago,

when a woman walked out of a red rock cavern,

her body wrapped in homespun cloth, and she created us, created

the torso of heaven and earth’s paired joy and tragedy, and knowledge—

and the word Anyang:peaceful people. I see this is her embroidery needle,

performed several times, cruel deeds

will be hung in the air. Like nailing down a crime,

shaking out dirt, the sharp songs of boys and girls,

using love to build a house.

But terrible situation is that people’s desires

are blackened by the growing smoke.

Next a greater darkness spreads,

like several waves of pillaging and despoiling villages,

a heavy rain, a huge fire, a prank,

I can see the countless struggling hands and feet.

Crying out in pain, they say:

“Just chop me off with a sword….”

But I can’t, I can’t let these insignificant things get hurt again.

My simple thought is, seize hold of those bad little ears,

that fine dust, those black caves,

those sins of extravagant hope, and hide away at the scene of birth,

a bit of calm, love, the root of the words peaceful life



© Trans. by Eleanor Goodman




Fresh Snow


This is called fresh snow. It comes too soon,

as autumn continues its irregular motions,

its flames extinguished.

Now everyone rummages through last year’s clothing like memories,

you say, there was no transition at all,

that toppling feeling came pressing down nimbly from your sky.

The yearning people are on the snowy ground, like dancers,

full of joy.

The snow falls, the snow is falling silently,

and now it radiates oddly,

covering what people don’t want to see, the society’s turbulence,

the dust on the road.

Snow is falling, you say, it’s the soul of winter,

its utter whiteness makes people uneasy.



© Trans. by Eleanor Goodman






They are walking by the Sandy River, backlit.

The swaying waterweeds seem to walk too.

This whole afternoon, the weeds belong to them,

two waterbirds sink into the unscrupulous plot.

In the distance is a bridge, but for the moment don’t think of it

because of the bridge’s far end, life marches on.

Nothing is more transparent

than these backlit objects, outside of time,

they are thinking nothing, letting the lush

grassy banks extend out endlessly.

They’re on a grassy road, or else

there is no road, they’re just exchanging their loneliness,

and then carrying water back to wash clothing. It’s so real,

and so empty. Sandy River has no sand,

the overgrown cogon grasses displace their worn out

daytime thoughts. “Wake up.”

But they haven’t been asleep, under the light

what’s sleeping are shadows, they’ve just given up

on time, created legends in legends,

sent death off to hide. “Have you heard the harmony

of a heart?” Now walking

and walking, they become each other’s light.

And the light is softly singing with the sound of the reeds.



© Trans. by Eleanor Goodman











Gao Chunlin(b.1968), contemporary Chinese poet, now lives in Pingdingshan City,  who began his writing in 1989. He is the author of several collections of poetry and essays, which are The Foxtrot of Night(2010), The Paramour of Time(2013), The Rover, and A Peaceful Heart (2013, Essays) etc. He is the editor-in-chief of several poetry anthologies, such as The 21st Century Chinese Poetry File. He has ever won the 3rd Henan Province Literature Award etc. Some of his poetry have been translated into English and introduced abroad.


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