1972

1972. At the time, a few British poets were as open to Chinese 4-line ‘cut-shorts’ as they were to 4-line translations of haiku.

………… In the hills meeting no one,
………… Hearing only the echo of voices.
………… Sunlight flickers through a dense wood
………… And the green moss is lit once more.
…………………… (Wang Wei, C8th)

……….……………………………….. Evening is shining in the gardens,
…….………………………………….. the thrush has started again,
………………………………………  I have come to buy some books
……………….……………………….. at the top of the town.
.……………………..…………………………… (Martin Snellgrove, Feb. 72 in England)

…………………… A silver cloud bursts in the hills,
…………………… A rainbow flows in the valley;
…………………… The fish eagle wheels to greet me
…………………… On my return from the capital.
………………………………  (Tito, Sep. 72 in Nepal)

Two years later, I arrived in the land of Basho with a yew staff in my hand made by Martin. Into its knobbly top was carved the face of a man ‘neither young nor old, neither Western nor Oriental’.

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5 Responses to “1972”

  1. Very nice, Tito. Can you please explain the term ‘cut-shorts’ and I don’t believe I’ve come across it before?

    • This briefest of trad. Chinese forms is called ‘wuyan jueju’ 五言絕句 and it was already quite popular in the Tang Period (in Japanese, this is pronounced ‘gogon zekku’): basically, two couplets of five characters per line, 20 characters in all. There is also a seven char. one, too, totalling 28. Of course, Martin and I were both imitating the style without counting words or syllables. I had begun studying Chinese at Oxford Univ. in 1971.

  2. Beautiful poems with poetic rhythms and metaphors.

  3. In New Rochelle that morning,
    maples flared into the cold light.
    I entered a white room
    dressed in blood, and hungry.

    (October 25, 1972)

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