Po Chu-i From Far Away Thinks On His Angry Wife
Of Po Chu-i, Chinese Governor & Poet (772-846 CE) :
As one of his poems explains, he suffered from paralysis
at the end of his life, one leg becoming useless.
'A well-fed contentment...
is there no greater achievement in life? '
'Too late for you, Little Stinger, '
he carves it himself, again and again,
years now, upon the stone,
'A well-fed contentment...'
and all the rest, but in his
mind it is never done.
'Old Po, ' he thinks to himself,
writing another verse in his head,
his own epitaph upon the other side
of the jade-stone, 'now rides a wild
horse to the end of all roads.'
Weary with the business of state,
of commerce he now cares less
though once he was poor and his
firstborn son is dead as a result,
'Old wife will never let me forget.'
Her heavy face displaces among
clouds, swollen with hard tears
her sorrowful gaze calls for the
always hungry child who was lost
when they were poor, without work
and down on luck.
The frozen ground
reluctantly yields these many
years unmoved by tears slow to
name his little grave, too long unmarked.
It now wears a monument tall of finest jade.
'Of pleasing the inconsolable, '
he writes in his head upon
horseback, poems to be untangled,
brushed smooth, ink and quill of
miles stroked until there is some
rest, a cozy inn rare, more often
a tent pitched lending some simple
peace compared to the mansion in
the wealthy province, the ponds
full, the barns full, servants
many and busy, all the fruit from
miles traveled to keep a fragile
peace which needs constant mending.
He thinks of his gray wife.
'It is as it is and should be,
of love these conditions come
bringing many mouths the fuller
hearts to break for love and
life seek to be undone again
'Such is the life the Allotter
gives. Why complain when one
has the gift of a patient horse,
Wěn Ding, Steady, an obedient,
'Why lament when eyes may
at beauty of all kinds still
rejoice; even of human woes
which break the heart much
music can be made, and without
'And without false pity, ' he sings,
'a coin given is heaven restored
until the next hunger pang, from
this friendship with strangers is
born, the best, of gentleness without
debt, untangling from mane to mind.'
'Untangling from mane to mind,
one takes real pleasure as they
come and, thanking the glad day,
banks them in the vaulted heart.'
Not given to self-pity, only
fond of nostalgic reminiscence,
he loves fabrics smooth, soft,
purchased in Yangshao where
he loves Spring's First Blossom
with whom he grew up, courting
her near the auspicious old well
of Silk Moths Aplenty.
He thinks of these and many things
upon his horse during the lonely
journey through difficult passages,
'Through difficult passages one
cannot avoid accumulating much dust, '
he composes out loud for the horse
to hear, 'perhaps our only wealth,
dear friend, of friendless miles.'
He rests awhile in the wide
orchard where bright plum flowers
rain, decides to unroll his pallet
to sleep beside the humming glade.
'Raiment, ' he writes in his sleepy head,
'of bees and leaves. An old man puts the
best plum in his sleeve to bring home
to his wife.'
'Why strive when nature is bounteous
and all ills can be made right with
wet sweetness? '
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