Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Old Questions

Funny, both poetry books I pulled off the shelf at the library the other day (the other one is In Search of Small Gods by Jim Harrison)  by poets nearing the end of their allotment of days on this planet, have poems referencing Su Tung-p'o. Even though the two writers could hardly be more different in their styles and preoccupations, they are both reading Su Tung P'o with attention and appreciation. Here's Merwin's tribute:

A Letter to Su Tung-p'o

Almost a thousand years later
I am asking the same questions
you did the ones you kept finding
yourself returning to as though
nothing had changed except the tone
of their echo growing deeper
and what you knew of the coming
of age before you had grown old
I do not know any more now
than you did then about what you
were asking as I sit at night
above the hushed valley thinking
of you on your river that one
bright sheet of moonlight in the dream
of the waterbirds and I hear
the silence after your questions
how old are the questions tonight

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