Tuesday, May 24, 2016

A Xi Chuan Poem


As I grow up, I begin to have a shadow. I cannot ignore it, unless
it merges into another, greater shadow — night. But whose shadow is
night? The earth casts its shadow on the moon, hence the lunar eclipse:
the moon casts its shadow on the earth, hence the solar eclipse. All of us
live in shadow. On the other side of the shadow lies fire; and shadow
gives us our only basis for measuring the sun. In daily life, because
there is only one sun, nothing can have multiple shadows; as for our souls,
the shadow is the sum total of desire, selfishness, fear, vanity, jealousy,
cruelty and death. Shadow endows things with reality. To strip a thing
of its reality, one only needs to strip it of its shadow. The sea has
no shadow; therefore it feels like an illusion. Objects in our dreams
have no shadow; therefore they form another world. Thus people have
every reason to believe that ghosts have no shadow.


(Trans. Xi Chuan and Inara Cedrins)

1 comment:

  1. A few choice words of Xi Chuan to ponder over:

    "Shall we not read the map? At sorrow lies the first crossroads, with a road to song and a road to bewilderment; at bewilderment the second crossroads, with a road to pleasure and a road to nothingness; at nothingness the third crossroads, with a road to death and a road to insight; at insight the fourth crossroads, with a road to madness and a road to silence."