Denis Mair


The Position That Rhymes (By Yan Li) - Poem by Denis Mair

by Yan Li
(translated by Denis Mair)

All who come into this world have errands
Entrusted to them by immortals.
All the riddles of incarnation
Need karmic ties to be solved one by one.

As for you,
I sense incense floating from afar
To enwreath you in this Oriental guise.
A karmic tie to you in memory
Was my errand from immortal Guanyin.
Incense with its pale-blue smoke taught me
By sense of smell to judge sublime from wretched.
Back then I knew nothing of America the beautiful,
But I knew the Guanyin statue in our house
Watched over the beautiful hopes of humankind.
My Grandmother lit incense on those Shanghai mornings
So I could keep the scent of peace in memory.

Now along my road of striving
I find you here in the road
Dare I let you symbolize the errand
I have received from Guanyin,
And make this our special secret?

In a classroom in America
I recite poems rendered into English
And realize as they run off unbridled
They don't care which language plays the tune,
And surely you aren't sitting here by accident
Because right here in front of me
Is the position that rhymes with my poems.

(Written at the Iowa Intl. Writers Program)

Topic(s) of this poem: affinity and love, karma, remembrance

Form: Free Verse


Poet's Notes about The Poem

Guanyin (also called Avalokitesvara) is the bodhisattva of mercy in Buddhism. Yan Li wrote this poem while he was participating in the Iowa International Writers Program. He wrote it for an American woman he met during his stay who liked to wear silk dresses.

Comments about The Position That Rhymes (By Yan Li) by Denis Mair

  • (7/9/2018 2:53:00 AM)

    We have to take care of our destiny, step by step, learning to read the signs. I really enjoyed this poem as much as I would a poem by Du FU. (Report)Reply

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  • Nasarudheen Parameswaran (5/12/2018 11:22:00 PM)

    Right. No music / song is strained by language barriers. Good poem with good message. (Report)Reply

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  • Bharati Nayak (5/4/2018 1:36:00 PM)

    In a classroom in America
    I recite poems rendered into English
    And realize as they run off unbridled
    They don't care which language plays the melody,
    And surely you aren't sitting here by accident
    Because right here in front of me
    Is the position that rhymes with my poems.- - - - - - In Hindu philosophy, we also believe in 'Karma', the actions we make, has its bearing even in next births.There are 'Karmic connections' between people and events.
    (Report)Reply

    Denis Mair(5/4/2018 11:58:00 PM)

    I'm so glad to see that Yan Li has a fan.

    0 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Poem Edited: Saturday, September 15, 2018


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