Requiem

By Bei Dao b. 1949 Bei Dao

Translated By Eliot Weinberger and Iona Man-Cheong

for Shanshan

The wave of that year
flooded the sands on the mirror
to be lost is a kind of leaving
and the meaning of leaving
the instant when all languages
are like shadows cast from the west

life's only a promise
don't grieve for it
before the garden was destroyed
we had too much time
debating the implications of a bird flying
as we knocked down midnight's door

alone like a match polished into light
when childhood's tunnel
led to a vein of dubious ore
to be lost is a kind of leaving
and poetry rectifying life
rectifies poetry's echo

"Requiem" by Bei Dao, translated by Eliot Weinberger and Iona Man-Cheong, from Unlock, copyright © 2000 by Zhao Zhenkai. Used by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp.

Source: Unlock (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 2000)

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Poet Bei Dao b. 1949

POET’S REGION China

Subjects Time & Brevity, Arts & Sciences, Living, Poetry & Poets

 Bei  Dao

Biography

Bei Dao is the nom de plume of Zhao Zhenkai, widely considered one of China’s most important contemporary authors. His poems have been translated into more than 30 languages. In English he is represented by numerous collections of poetry, fiction, and essays, including The August Sleepwalker, Old Snow, Unlock, Landscape over Zero, Midnight’s Gate, and Waves, which have been internationally acclaimed for their subtlety, . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Time & Brevity, Arts & Sciences, Living, Poetry & Poets

POET’S REGION China

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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