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Four Chinese poems

Yang Xie and Hu Xian, translated Ouyang Yu |  26 November 2012

On a certain afternoon

On a certain afternoon
I, on a sudden, actually smelt something
Like a rat
From the fifth collection of poetry
By a poet
I had been passionately in love with

On a certain afternoon
A mass poetry magazine, just bought
Was ripped to pieces by me
And a newspaper, known to all, that had just arrived
Was carried by me to the toilet

On a certain afternoon
I chewed eight bad-quality candies
And wrote an oral poem
That was more poetry
Than the poems written on an exercise book several years ago

On a certain afternoon
A lead bullet, as rumour would have it
Was shot
Excitedly from an air gun
That hit the swaying plumpness
Of the hips of a woman in front of me

On a certain afternoon
I saw myself walking on a street
And being crowded about for a while
Still, I did not know what I was going to do
So I came home in dejection
On a certain afternoon
There were no programs on TV
And when you listened carefully
To a dry speech end itself
You quite enjoyed yourself
As if you were listening to a report about an air crash

On a certain afternoon
You went to sleep
But found you couldn't
Staring, as you were, at the top of the bed
And, later, in a dream, you clenched your teeth
Your ears ringing
Feeling as if the heaven were turning
As you fell on a deserted ridge
Reminding yourself that
This was the consequence of writing
And that you had to go and buy some medications again

On a certain afternoon
A very ordinary one 

Yang Xie


I saw

Today I saw
A rich man
I knew not what his brains and intestines
Were like
All I knew was
He had a potbelly and his face, oily shiny
Right, there was something important
I, on a sudden, was able to tell
Which hand was his left
And which, his right

Today I saw
A woman
A ghastly paper
Behind her heavily made-up mask
Something that might break
At the merest touch
And her breasts, highly bundled up
One taller than the other
And her peach-red laced brief
Put on the wrong way in a hurry
Showed through underneath her near-transparent skirt

Today I saw
An old man
Older than my dad
I saw him
One hand holding an old bag
And the other, pressed on his upper abdomen
He looked pale
His head covered in sweat|
And the corner of his mouth
It kept quivering 

Yang Xie



Song of failure

The body, via love
leaves the life right before the eye while love
is making a comeback to the world via body

The sky is so blue
it does not allow people to be too greedy
— meanwhile the clouds pile up
like the flesh that grows in the body

Crossing over and standing there
is easy enough. What is not easy is to divide the body up: appearing, as you wish
simultaneously in two places

Hu Xian



So quiet
a lake, rippleless, even the sound of the spring having disappeared. When I looked
where I came from
I could only see the fallen leaves, the Acorus calamus, the reeds, the purple locust
trees, the Devil-faced Tung ...
the mountain still in the lake, more like the cast iron than itself on the bank
the firmament, filled with the golden sun, was congealing underground
after the shadow of birds was gone, the white clouds were so light I seemed to be
guarding another distance and a hometown
near me, a tiny bee, buzzing, its wings fluttering, the air
shivery, with dense ripples 

Hu Xian

Yang Xie, born in 1972 in Zhejiang, China, is an award-winning poet whose poems have been published in China, Australia and America.

Hu Xian, born in 1966, has won a number of prizes, and has published a couple of poetry books, including zhenyu (Showers).

Ouyang Yu headshotTranslator: Ouyang Yu is a poet writing in both English and Chinese. He has published 65 books, including The Kingsbury Tales: A Complete Collection (2012) and Self Translation (2012). 


Yang Xie and Hu Xian, translated Ouyang Yu


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Submitted comments

Enjoyed these very much. Thank you for the translations.

Anne 30 November 2012

Great translation work Ouyang Yu. I am glad you have become an Australian. We are fortunate to have you here,to introduce modern and old Chinese poetry to us. I love your poetry too. Keep on leaning towards the keyboard! JIA YOU!

Alex 30 November 2012

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