So, without further ado, let’s get to today’s painting and poem, inspired by Li Po’s poem, A Poem Of Changgan.
To read this poem, click here (or scroll down near the bottom of the page)
DEAR AND FAR
Dear and far,
far have you flown,
flown to the East,
East and to the sea.
The train head bellowed not once in the night,
so mourned it of your absence.
Now stretched so thin are you and I,
phantoms disarranged on either side
of hazy vales of miles immeasured.
And yet how deep our hearts have grown
roots into the Earth,
golden boughs into the sky.
Love never have I known,
but for your arms in mine,
sweetly in my dreams entwined.
I starve for your ripeness,
the winepress of your lips
and the stories from them told
that fill my soul as bread and water
to a dying man, days alone
on the scorched desert sand,
torn savagely from his home.
Not by some trick of conjuring,
do I force you into fullness,
to taste your wine of unsated need.
By need do you flower–
fleshly petals, red-lipped stigma,
tongue of nectar.
Tend to my longing!
For gold is as only copper
if not for your closeness.
You and I,
and the fountain of our delightful alchemy.
You: god-born naiad of Mount Helicon, come home
bearing August’s gladiolus.
I: shepherd to your flock
of antinomian desires.
Send me a message home ahead!
And I will come and meet you
and will never mind the distance.
A POEM OF CHANGGAN
by Li Po
My hair had hardly covered my forehead.
I was picking flowers, playing by my door,
When you, my lover, on a bamboo horse,
Came trotting in circles and throwing green plums.
We lived near together on a lane in Ch’ang-kan,
Both of us young and happy-hearted.
…At fourteen I became your wife,
So bashful that I dared not smile,
And I lowered my head toward a dark corner
And would not turn to your thousand calls;
But at fifteen I straightened my brows and laughed,
Learning that no dust could ever seal our love,
That even unto death I would await you by my post
And would never lose heart in the tower of silent watching.
…Then when I was sixteen, you left on a long journey
Through the Gorges of Ch’u-t’ang, of rock and whirling water.
And then came the Fifth-month, more than I could bear,
And I tried to hear the monkeys in your lofty far-off sky.
Your footprints by our door, where I had watched you go,
Were hidden, every one of them, under green moss,
Hidden under moss too deep to sweep away.
And the first autumn wind added fallen leaves.
And now, in the Eighth-month, yellowing butterflies
Hover, two by two, in our west-garden grasses
And, because of all this, my heart is breaking
And I fear for my bright cheeks, lest they fade.
…Oh, at last, when you return through the three Pa districts,
Send me a message home ahead!
And I will come and meet you and will never mind the distance,
All the way to Chang-feng Sha.
Li Po, 701-762. Born in Suyab of ancient Chinese Central Asia (present-day Kyrgyzstan)
Link to Biography: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/li-po
Link to Poem: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/56596/a-poem-of-changgan
ABOUT THE POETRY PAINTING PROJECT
For the past couple of months I have been working on a huge new secret project with my painter, Addie Hirshten, of Studio Alchemy
We selected 30 poems (from the public domain) and each day for the next 30 days I will write a poem inspired by it, and Addie will paint a painting.
Expect an outpouring of creative energy! This is the sort of big project that artists live for … where we can say what we yearn to say. Big picture stuff. Heart wrenching stuff. I feel so inspired by the poetry we are working with AND seeing Addie’s process as well. Expect daily surprises with our posts. Expect passion. Expect love. Expect life.
All great deeds and all great thoughts have a ridiculous beginning.Albert Camus
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