My Dear Wei - Poem by Sadiqullah Khan
My dear Wei, if you were not my relation,
By virtue of being in the civil service of state,
I probably would not have been so empathic
With your quietness, and would not have been,
Hiding in bamboo cottages, riding hills, sleeping
In boats through rivers, travelling in heavy rain,
And not making efforts to develop own ethos,
Neither spirituality, nor religion, fate, or intent.
Had I been closer to the emperor, I would
Have offered a eulogy, and praised his feathered
Vanity, silently laughing at his follies, naiveté.
I would not have been sent to the distant north,
And then called back, at the beck of the day,
I would not have been standing like the Japanese
Under the apricot tree, to be blessed in whiteness,
Wishing grazing goats, hunting ibex, or simply,
Selling books, becoming a Confucius teacher.
Although outmoded, but maybe I would have
Bought a degree, from some street university,
Harvard or Oxford, some scholarship for emergent
Leaders of the world, junking jargons, and cliché.
I would be a shallow bureaucrat, arrogant sans
Competence, and making high connections,
Be a part of a club, and present, two-piece suits,
To the waists which are forty plus, and myself,
Buy a used necktie, wearing severe looks on face.
My dear Wang Wei, you made eternal pages,
By emptying your ink pot on paper, painting
Landscapes, writing poetry as fragrant as jasmine,
O the names you give to your gardens, names,
To the corners, your recluse friends there,
Bushed in thatches, and with whom you drank
Your heart's fill, you sang the bliss of Zen, Han,
Or Dang, whatever the dynasties you served,
And look how your little book of verse reached me,
How I dream through your words, how project,
My lines, of little worth on your silken old gown.
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