Welcome to the World Wide Web Home page of Road to East Asia
Written by students of FC1750.06
at Founders College, York University
Vol.2, no. 1 November, 1996
The bank in the poem named after it is actually the poet himself who wants to embrace the "bewitching foam and stars" and "sobbing moon" (p. 195). This is nothing but wishful thinking. Being a solitary and an insignificant individual in a fathomless universe, all he can do is gaze at nature's wonders. Nevertheless, he believes he can at least provide shelter for needy children, who bring back "a string of lamps" in their "little boats." As a "fishing haven," he will stretch out his arms to embrace them warmly. Apparently, he pins his hope on posterity.
In "For My Revered Master Hans Andersen," Gu Cheng uses an extended metaphor to present the world of children. He compares carpentry to the creative process which could bring a fantasized world on earth. The wood grain is likened to "rhythmic lines of verse." He writes poems as if he were working as a carpenter, artistically carving objects out of wood. Both poetry writing and carpentry provide him to a "harbor," an entry to a paradise of his own making -- a world filled with child-like purity.
The love for children also figures prominently in Shu Ting's poetry. "In a brief moment I leave behind everlasting works/ In the pupils of children's eyes/ Kindling sparks of gold," she writes in "Gifts." Children are the ones to pass her poetic messages on to future generations, and in them she trusts. Other times, Su Ting's poetry is imbued with sorrow as in the poem "Goodbye in the Rain." She feels heartbreaking pain because she does not dare to do what she "really wants to." She confesses her regrets for the love she has not realized.
Generally speaking, poetry written in a communist country either praises and criticizes the Party and its ideology. However, the trio refuse to be mouthpieces of politics or tools of resistance. What they pursue is an idealized world to which man can aspire to reach: a land imbued with feelings of love, beauty, and peace.
Bei Dao. "The Bank. " Trans. Bonnie S McDougall. Trees on the Mountain. Ed. Stephen Soong
Gu Cheng. "For My Revered Master Hans Andersen. " Trans. Tao Tao Liu, Sean Golden et al.
Shu Ting. "Gifts. " Trans. Tao Tao Liu. Trees on the Mountain. Ed. Stephen Soong
Shu Ting. "Goodbye in the Rain. " Trans. Tao Tao Liu. Trees on the Mountain.
Ed. Stephen Soong