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Missed Time

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My notebook has remained blank for months
thanks to the light you shower
around me. I have no use
for my pen, which lies
languorously without grief.

Nothing is better than to live
a storyless life that needs
no writing for meaning—
when I am gone, let others say
they lost a happy man,
though no one can tell how happy I was.

Source: Poetry (Poetry)

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This poem originally appeared in the July 2000 issue of Poetry magazine

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Missed Time

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  • Ha Jin, born in Liaoning Province, China, grew up during the Cultural Revolution when schools were closed and books were burned. While serving in the army, Jin educated himself and studied English and literature when the schools opened in the 1980s. He came to the United States to earn his doctorate from Brandeis University, and decided to remain in this country after the massacre of students at Tiananmen Square. Jin writes solely in English, focusing mostly on Chinese culture.

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