to the small poem and the quiet voice within

xi chuan | answering venus (45 fragments)…excerpts


Answering Venus (45 fragments)…excerpts

night is the sleep of seven wax moths
dawn is the singing of five mermaids
noon is the scratching of three field mice
dusk is the shadow of a crow

I placed seventy-two iron chairs in a meadow
facing seventy-two stars in the northern sky
My point was; seventy-two sages have left us

in sudden loneliness
someone who rarely worries can’t help but sob

lonely Ezra Pound peels a tangerine
when the moon soundlessly slips through the Atlantic sky
Ezra Pound broods on the whole of humanity

when my life is a mess
my watch is particularly precise

Crows resolve the problems of crows,
I resolve my own problems.

no one has yet tested the pencil
to see how many words it can write

[from: NOTES ON THE MOSQUITO, Selected Poems, New Directions, 2012]

*Xi Chuan (official name Liu Jun), poet, essayist, translator, was born in the City of Xuzhou, Jiangsu province, in 1963. He studied English literature at the Peking University from 1981 to 1985, and later worked as an editor for the magazine Huangqiu (Globe Monthly) for eight years. He was a visiting scholar to the International Writing Program of the University of Iowa, in 2002, and a visiting adjunct professor to New York University in 2007, the Orion Scholar to the University of Victoria, Canada in 2009. He is currently teaching Classical Chinese Literature at the School of Liberal Arts, Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing.


  1. Jackie

    Another home run, Norb. And another book I have to buy.

  2. Steve Fortney

    i didn’t know the chinese wrote haiku things. lovely.

  3. Robert M. Zoschke

    Bingo, Capitano Blei.

  4. Nancy

    Really lovely selections. Who came to sit in the chairs? Just wondering. I especially like the sense of the “maybe” in Xi Chuan’s poems and the pencil graphic. Thank you for a lovely start to the morning.

  5. Jeffrey Winke

    Dang cool my friend… dang cool!

  6. John Bennett

    #37 is incorrect …

  7. carol gresko

    …..I guess I must start wearing a watch again, night, dawn, noon and dusk……..
    …..and, Nancy, who could dare to sit in the chair of a lost sage?
    …..think I shall go and sob and sob and sob now and skip lunch.
    Thank you Norb

  8. Nancy

    Dear Carol, try it, try it, you might like it! They are everywhere, sages’ chairs; many of them in good places to eat lunch: comfortable, wonderful views, although not all, definitely. And, there you can always sob to the side so it waters the flowers. Pretty neat.

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