The Women Of China - Poem by Paul Hartal
Once a crowd of beautiful ladies descended
to the waterfront in Xian and Du Fu saw them.
It was the third day of the third month, the time
of the Lustration Festival. In those days
the ancient capital of China was still called Chang-an,
the city of Perpetual Peace, and Du Fu was a famous poet
during the reign of the Tang Dynasty.
However, he disliked the wasteful luxury of the women
he saw at the waterfront and the depravity
in which they were immersed.
These beauties, he said, were as flamboyant and arrogant
as gentle and elegant. The skin on their marvelous bodies
was delicate and jade pendants framed their temples.
They wore exorbitant gowns made of silk,
embroidered with gold peacocks and silver unicorns.
But the women that I saw in China thirteen centuries later
were very different. I saw them working hard on the fields
and in factories. Simply dressed, they walked
or rode their bicycles, and I found their bodies attractive
and comely even when they wore uniforms.
Yet 5,000 years of civilization also taught these women
to apparel themselves stylishly
with sophisticated refinement. They also like to dress up
for a charming look in traditional garments,
pacing gracefully in colorful silk chipaos.
The women that I met in China
were easy to sing and dance and laugh. And they liked
to clap their hands with joy. I saw warmth in their eyes
and friendliness in their smile.
Once on a sunny day I admired the bronze statue
of the street-sweeping girl on a Beijing boulevard.
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