“Perhaps” appears courtesy of Copper Canyon Press. Reprinted from Arthur Sze's The Silk Dragon: Translations from the Chinese, translated and introduced by Arthur Sze. © 2001 Arthur Sze.
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Read a selection of Sze's poetry in an earlier issue.
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Wen I-to (1899-1946)
Translated by Arthur Sze
Perhaps you have wept and wept, and can weep no more.
Perhaps. Perhaps you ought to sleep a bit;
then don't let the nighthawk cough, the frogs
croak, or the bats fly.
Don't let the sunlight open the curtain onto your eyes.
Don't let a cool breeze brush your eyebrows.
Ah, no one will be able to startle you awake:
I will open an umbrella of dark pines to shelter your sleep.
Perhaps you hear earthworms digging in the mud,
or listen to the root hairs of small grasses sucking up water.
Perhaps this music you are listening to is lovelier
than the swearing and cursing noises of men.
Then close your eyelids, and shut them tight.
I will let you sleep; I will let you sleep.
I will cover you lightly, lightly with yellow earth.
I will slowly, slowly let the ashes of paper money fly.