The Burning Kite – Ouyang Jianghe

The Burning Kite

What a thing it would be, if we all could fly.
But to rise on air does not make you a bird.

I’m sick of the hiss of champagne bubbles.
It’s spring, and everyone’s got something to puke.

The things we puke: flights of stairs,
a skyscraper soaring from the gut,

the bills blow by on the April breeze
followed by flurries of razor blades in May.

It’s true, a free life is made of words.
You can crumple it, toss it in the trash,

or fold it between the bodies of angels, attaining
a permanent address in the sky.

The postman hands you your flight of birds
persisting in the original shape of wind.

Whether they’re winging toward the scissors’ V
or printed and plastered on every wall

or bound and trussed, bamboo frames wound with wire
or sentenced to death by fire

you are, first
and always, ash.

Broken wire, a hurricane at each end.
Fire trucks scream across the earth.

But this blaze is a thing of the air.
Raise your glass higher, toss it up and away.

Few know this kind of dizzy glee:
an empty sky, a pair of burning wings.



Chinese poet Ouyang Jianghe, known as one of the “Five Masters from Sichuan,” is a poet and prominent critic of music, art, and literature, and president of the literary magazine Jintian. His first poetry collection in English, Doubled Shadows (2012), was published by Zephyr Press.

source: poetry


Ouyang — a bit of a maverick, known to move against the traffic.
He is placed often in the category of the “post-Misty” school of Chinese poets — a representative voice among the second wave of poets who, in the immediate aftermath of the Cultural Revolution (1966-76), chose to turn away from big historical themes, focusing instead on the apparently trivial and the quotidian elements of life. The language was obscure (hence, the name “misty”), often marked by neologisms and syntactical experiments.

“Ouyang Jianghe,” says his translator, Austin Woerner, a scholar of Chinese literature based in New York, “is the mistiest of the post-Misties. His poetry is noted for its ‘difficulty’.”



A Poem – Li Jiao (લી ઝીયાઓ)

હું આવું છું, હું આવું છું
કેટલાક તિરસ્કારે મને,
શિયાળાનું હિમ-અશ્રુ કહી
કેટલાક ચાહે મને,
વસંતનું હું સંગીત કહી
કવચિત, હું હોઈશ અશ્રુ
કવચિત, એક ગીત
ધીરેથી સરી પડીશ હું ફિક્કા ગાલ પરથી,
હળવેકથી હું સૂર રેલાવીશ આતુર હ્રદયથી.
પરવા નથી, આનંદિત કે ગ્લાનીભર્યું,
હું તો હંમેશ એક ઝરણું,
હ્રદય સોંસરવું વ્હેતું.
લાગણીના અગાધ સમુદ્રમાં
હું છું વિયોગ અને મિલન.

લી ઝીયાઓ

Li Jiao Tang Dynasty (646-715)

Tang Dynasty painting-


The Tang Dynasty (618-907) witnessed the zenith of Chinese ancient poetry, with many renowned poets and famous works appearing over a period of less than 300 years. Some 50,000 poems and the names of 2,300 poets of that period remain widely known today.
The best-known poets of the Tang Dynasty are Li Bai (701-762) and Du Fu (712-770).

A Chinese Poem by Li Jiao in Gujarati

ચુપકીદીથી હું આવું છું આ વિશ્વમાં
અનેક લ્હેરોને સ્પંદિત કરતો
તરંગો, સૂકાં પર્ણો ને આદિમ વૃક્ષો,
ક્યાંક છૂટીછવાઈ સેવાળ ને ઝાંખા પ્રકાશિત ફાનસ
સહસ્ત્ર અવાજો, થઈ ગયા છે શાંત.
ચૂપ રહેજો, ખલેલ પાડશો નહીં,
આ શાંત જીવનને ભાંગશો નહીં!
મધુર સ્મિતે હું છેડું મારું ગીત:
વરસાદનું એક એક ટીપું છે બીજ, જેમાં
સમાયેલી છે હવાની ભીનાશ ને ધરતીની ગરમી

હું રોપું છું, જીવન, જોમ અને પરમ તત્ત્વોને
કાલે, એક નવા વિશ્વને આમંત્રીશ લણણીની મોજમાં.
એક તણખલું યા અસંખ્ય પદ્મો
અથવા હોય કોઈ આદિમ જીવકોષ,
જ્યાં સુધી જીવન છે
એ સૃષ્ટિ છે
એ હું છું.

Li Jiao – Tang Dynasty (646-715)


Chinese Poems – Du Fu [ Tu Fu ]


Du Fu ( Tu Fu )


Moonlit Night

In Fuzhou, far away, my wife is watching
The moon alone tonight, and my thoughts fill
With sadness for my children, who can’t think
Of me here in Changan; they’re too young still
Her cloud-soft hair is moist with fragrant mist.
In the clear light her white arms sense the chill.
When will we feel the moonlight dry our tears,
Leaning together on our window-sill?

….. …. …. …. ……

Thoughts While Travelling at Night

Light breeze on the fine grass.
I stand alone at the mast.

Stars lean on the vast wild plain.
Moon bobs in the Great River’s spate.

Letters have brought no fame.
Office? Too old to obtain.

Drifting, what am I like?
A gull between earth and sky.

– Du Fu (712-770)

Du Fu’s attitude to nature is somewhat different from that of either Wang Wei or Li Bai. He sees nature not as retreat or drama but as an emotional or moral entity set in juxtaposition to human life and human events, whether in sympathy or antipathy.
Du Fu failed the imperial examinations multiple times and he did not have a personal patron, so had to live apart from his wife and children, whom he could not afford to keep in the capital.
He has been considered to be one of China’s greatest poets. His feeling for the things of consequence of his times, his realism and honesty, the richness of his technique and language, the moral force of his writing, his affection and concern for those around him and his sense of fun have ensured immortality for the poet who received meagre literary acclaim in his lifetime.
– From ” Three Chinese Poets”
Translation by Vikram Seth


Chinese Poems – Li Bai

Listening to a Monk from Shu Playing the Lute

The monk from Shu with his green lute-case walked
Westward down Emei Shan, and at the sound
Of the first notes he strummed for me I heard
A thousand valleys’ rustling pines resound.
My heart was cleansed, as if in flowing water.
In bells of frost I heard the resonance die.
Dusk came unnoticed over the emerald hills
And Autumn clouds layered the darkening sky.
…. … … … …. … …

The Waterfall at Lu Shan

In sunshine, Censer Peak breathes purple mist.
A jutting stream, the cataract hangs in spray
Far off, then plunges down three thousand feet–
As if the sky had dropped the Milky Way.
– Li Bai
…. …. …. …. … …
Li Bai was born in Chinese Turkestan in 701. He travelled a great deal throughout China. He made a great impression on his contemporaries as a paradigm of the intoxicated and impulsive poet with his flashing eyes and great iconoclastic energy. He was interested in alchemy and Taoism.

From” Three Chinese Poets”
Translation by Vikram Seth


Chinese Poems- Wang Wei

Image from


Wang Wei, was a poet during Tang Dynasty, period of great cultural glory in Chinese history. He was an accomplished musician, artist, calligrapher and poet, who wrote the classic ‘ Ballad of the Peach Tree Spring’ at seventeen.
Su Dongpo, a later poet, said ‘ there was poetry in his painting and painting in his poetry’.

…. ….. ….. ….. …… ….. …..

Autumn Nightfall at My Place in the Hills

In the empty mountains, after recent rains,
A sense of fall comes with the evening air.
The moon is bright and shines between the pines.
Over the stones the spring-fed stream runs clear.
Bamboos rustle: washerwomen go home.
Lotuses stir: fishing boats make their way.
At its own will, the scent of Spring has gone.
But you, ‘O prince of friends’, of course may stay.

Wang Wei ( 701- 762)
-Translation by Vikram Seth

From ‘ Three Chinese Poets’