Poem by Kuo Mo-Jo
I found a copy of Selected Poems from The Godesses at Second Story Books in DC, which was my favorite bookstore in Dc when I used to live there. I'd never heard of Kuo Mo-Jo before (or Guo Moruo, which seems to be more commonly used), but there was a bookmark of a receipt in Chinese marking this poem. I was knocked out by it.
Fiery clouds girdle the rim of the sky
like crimson dragons roving the air,
like crimson lions, whales, elephants, rhinoceroses.
Perhaps you are all outriders of Apollo?
And you, blazing headlights of motorcars,
you twentieth-century Apollos,
have you not changed your mount for a car?
I would be your driver, will you engage me?
Ah! The vitality of light!
Agate morning birds scatter before my eyes.
Light and dark are divided with the clean cut of a knife.
For light there are floating clouds, for dark there are floating clouds.
Both are floating clouds, why then dark, why light?
I hold my gaze on the darkness of the clouds:
all are dispersed by Apollo's potent beams.
Then I saw that the cockcrows all about me have a deeper meaning.
Trans by John Lester & A.C. Barnes, Second Edition of the Foreign Language Press Edition.
I need to read more than just this slim selection of poems.
I'm always surprised by the roses hiding inside rhinoceroses.