Zhao Si









Praying for nothing but not toppled, nothing but not fallen

nothing but a reed be picked up when it bruises,

a smoldering wick not be snuffed out deliberately.

Before the years’ curtain wall of noise and annoyance,

a man, gradually becomes intimate to a music

with slowly elongating voice of raindrops.

Each and every thread of glistening sad metal strings

breaks, into pieces, spatters still

tears of no way back, they are

in the mixed voices of wheels, pedestrians, traffic signals,

huge flash screens, steel-concrete buildings, city lights…

model a symphony and draw randomly a silver world

on the glass walls of each and every skyscraper.



© Trans. by Xuan Yuan, Tim Lilburn & the author





——talking with Tomaž Šalamun and the Sky


One day, after translating a Salamun’s poem, big wind still soaring outsides the window, the dusk descending itself bit by bit, I suddenly found that being in a room of a 16th-floor, I was actually being in the air if seen by one who sees people only but not the buildings. So I talked with Tomaž and the sky…


I cannot fly, I can only figure out how you fly.

Then, one day, I, a hollow one unexpectedly fly up,

in a rosy dusk, next to a whole day’s soaring wind and dust,

the shade of towery pines still swaying on the opposite wall at this lit-up night.

One, who watches incessant streams down on the busy street, jostling-crowded skyscrapers,

in one room on the 16th floor of one building, beneath

the cool single star in the southwest sky, was hit by clarity

that in the eye of one who sees man of flesh and blood only

she is standing on a point of void in the universe,

suspending, meditating, strolling idly, safely love-in-a-mist*,

treading in the airy tragedy, expressing a hollow-beauty lyric:

Could we still hold dreams of the future clearer than the memory of traveling,

if we only being on boundless sea but without dry land,

being against merged sea and sky but without gods shed their mercies,

being under golden clouds with rosy fingers but pointing to no places,

being in immensity and endlessness but with no thing to depend on?

Could we still appreciate every detailed beauty cherished by the world

that every part deserves for a careful look-after?

Could you still insist on overuse of willpower and stride forward singing triumphantly:

speedy flying saves more effort, higher one, saves more labour?

Could you still boldly blows the melancholy ocean into annoyance wind and announce:

you are still full of hunger enveloping the sky that never could be filled up?



© Trans. by Xuan Yuan & the author






  … I pluck’d a hollow reed,

  … I made a rural pen

William Blake: Introduction of Songs of Innocence


Hung on your horns

were songs interdependent with you


The wreath round your neck turned sallow

beneath ripples of slackness hid your dehydrated body


My poor old insane Pan

I saw you pluck a hollow reed

lips quivering

before uttering my name in your memory—Syrinx

I had turned into the pen in your hand


Your dim old eyes didn’t lie to you

the land is barren

on places you’ve walked

the stubble of withered grass pricks your feet


afar, rows of thinking reed

asexually reproduce a printing world


The wind blew away songs on your horn

you listened to the crisp snaps of dry petals fading away

a sense of déjà vu

you went wild for a sudden, jumping up to chase them

and gone, never comes back


generations later

submerged in the noises of printing machines

my rationality fell into sleep


dream droops its rosy hands, one finger pointing to the east, one to the west

and one to the ancient master

abruptly I run into your last stuttering wild singing



© Trans. by Xuan Yuan & the author











Dr. Zhao Si (b. 1972), Chinese poet, essayist, translator, poetics scholar, editor, is the author or translator of several books, including White Crow (Poems, 2005), Gold-in-Sand Picker (Prose Poems, 2005), Disappearing, Recalling: 2009–2014 New Selected Poems (2016), which won the « 2014 Major Support Project » by China Writers Association, two poetry books of Tomaž Šalamun (both 400+ pages each): Light-Blue-Pillow Tower (2014) and The Enormous Boiling Mouths of the Sun (2016), Edmond Jabès: Complete Poems (co-translation, forthcoming, 2017. And as the chief-editor of 5 volumes Anthology of Edmond Jabès), and selected work by others: Hart Crane (US), Ted Hughes (UK), Vladimir Holan (Czech), et al. Some of her poems have been translated into 15 languages and published worldwide. She is a frequent guest in different poetry festivals held in Europe and Asia. She works for Poetry Periodical and is the Executive Editor-in-Chief of the prestigious poetry translation series Contemporary International Poetry. She was awarded Polish Marii Konopnickiej Poetry Prize in 2012. She lives in Beijing.

* love-in-a-mist is also a tropical plant with another name “devil-in-the-bush”.

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