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Poetry Corner

from Vanamonde (2008)

O Moon you are red
As the clouds part to show us
We have eclipsed you. [Van 770]

Flowering plum street
To a park of calling birds,
It's early for me. [Van 771]

Riddling at the Renaissance Pleasure Faire® [Van 778]

Oh, do not say I am a thing of lies,
Or ask me what is truth, like jesting Pilate,
For though men pay to being me to their eyes,
And when I am too short, they bid me dilate,
And cry that I am true, and like to life,
Yet no one is deceived by my joys or fears,
And those I marry be not man and wife.
'Tis said that all the world's a place for me,
Yet actually artifice I be.
(A play)

Curl a mossy thought.
"Emerald" we say, it rains
Lavishly at home;
Touch our luck, you're welcome; we
Sing or fight, with love, with you. [Van 780]

[This acrostic is in Japanese tanka form, ancestor of haiku, 5-7-5-7-7 syllables.]

Rib or dust beyond my power
Into mately touch drawing me
Newly brought bursting wonder, surprise,
Giving and taking a different dance we. [Van 786]

[John included the following explanatory note in Vanamonde #786.]

Chinese "regular verse" (see James J.Y. Liu, The Art of Chinese Poetry (1962)), established in the T'ang Dynasty about 1,300 years ago, is in eight lines or four, either all lines having seven characters or all having five. In a four-line poem the second and fourth lines rhyme. Each character is one syllable; a word is usually one or two characters; Chinese has far fewer particles than English: Liu translating literally the first line of "Seeing Off Yüan the Second on a Mission to An-hsi" by Wang Wei (699-759) Wei ch'eng chao yü yi ch'ing ch'en "Wei town morning rain wet light dust" puts it in ordinary English as "The light dust in the town of Wei is wet with morning rain" (Liu, p. 29). Also no stress accent, unlike English which has e.g. "The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold." Each character is uttered in one of a set of particular voice-tones, hence the "sing-song" impression received by Occidental ears; classical Chinese has four tones; the tones make patterns as stress accents do in English poetry; in a regular-verse quatrain of four 5-character lines, where – is the "first" or high-level tone and + any of the others, R marks the rhyme, and / marks a caesura or break in thought, the pattern is

- - / - + +

+ + / + - - R

+ + / - - +

- - / + + - R

Those who try such poetry in English manage as well as they can.