Wednesday, December 5, 2007

“Written to the Tune: River Town,” by Su Tung-P’o

p. 157

Lost to one another, the living and the dead, these ten years.
I have not tried to remember
What is impossible to forget.
Your solitary grave is a thousand miles away,
No way to tell you my loneliness.
If we were to meet, you would not recognize me—
Face covered with dust,
Hair like frost.

Last night in a dark dream I was all at once back home.
You were combing your hair
At the little window.
We looked at one another without speaking
And could only weep streaming tears.
Year after year I expect it will go on breaking my heart—
The night of the full moon
The hill of low pines.

(The twentieth of the first month, 1075, to record a dream)

Things I like in this one: “No way to tell you my loneliness”—that’s what grief is—that the one who would understand that loneliness is the one you cannot tell. He says “At the little window” and I feel it’s that one specific window in their old home. The last three lines are so concrete and non-indulgent—they don’t beat the breast and moan and so I believe the emotion more. I imagine the “night of the full moon” was their married happiness, their joy together. The note says “the hill of low pines” is another way of saying the place where she is buried.
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