David Lewis Paget
Pu Tong Hua
English is simple, it flitters from the tongue,
It means what it says when all’s said and done,
No matter how we say it, stress it or declaim,
In English it always means the same, same, same!
Chinese is difficult, your ‘Pu Tong Hua’,
Is drawn in little pictures that go back so-o-o far,
And every one’s a concept, with no strict meanings
Making it impossible to delve your gleanings.
As often as I study, and try as I might,
I can’t get your xiang xing’s or qing qing’s right.
There isn’t any gender; there isn’t any tense,
So how can your past, present, future, make sense?
Then when I’ve mastered some simple Chinese
You say: ‘That’s fine – but it’s Wenzhou-nese,
Nobody in Guangzhou, Wuhan or Beijing
Would understand a pennyworth of what you’re saying! ’
Every city’s dialect differs from the main,
Canton-ese, Shanghai-nese, nothing is the same.
Beijing has its Mandarin, the old ‘Pu Tong Hua’,
But it’s not what you’ll hear in a Wenzhou bar.
So don’t look for sympathy with adjectives and pauses,
Proper nouns or pronouns, adverbial clauses,
Your cousin’s not your brother, and a ‘she’s’ not a ‘him’,
But how do I tell you in your old Mandarin?
4 April 2006
David Lewis Paget's Other Poems
Read this poem in other languages
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.
Comments about this poem (Pu Tong Hua by David Lewis Paget )
The Road Not Taken
If You Forget Me
Still I Rise
Edgar Allan Poe
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
William Ernest Henley
- मा जालांखो, Ronjoy Brahma
- Complete woman, hasmukh amathalal
- # Life #, Aparna Chatterjee
- Shhh Cricket, Ima Ryma
- Lord Buddha again, hasmukh amathalal
- आं लाजिया, Ronjoy Brahma
- Night Play, Seyi Rufus Oluwadare
- Love Me Not, Electric Lady
- Symbol Woman-3(Repost), Indira Renganathan
- दिनैनि हराव नांगोलनि जांख्रा, Ronjoy Brahma