Paean to the East from a Southern Cracker

The Eastern thinkers really speak to me. Those of ancient eons but those of today, including a handful of you I have met recently in the blog-o-sphere. You just don’t “think the right way.” You deign to look at the world differently. You look different. You sound different. How could that be? How could that have happened?

This world is just not as it was presented to me. It is not static but always intrinsically dynamic, always a “process in a process in a field that never closes.” ( W. H. Auden) It has taken me 61 years to get to this place where humility is teasing me, inviting me into its solace, and I’m absolutely loving it! Sure, I’m still kicking and screaming a bit but I’m gonna get there. And I think of the observation of W. B. Yeats when he “got there,”—Throughout all the lying days of my youth/I waved my leaves and flowers in the air./Now may I wither into the Truth.

Here is a wonderful poem by Bei Dao, a contemporary Chinese poet, with favorite stanza highlighted:

Cruelty is the ID pass of the cruel,
honesty the grave stone of the honest.
Look, in the sky plated gold,
crooked reflections of all the dead float around.

The glacial epoch is over,
so why is there ice everywhere?
Good Hope was rounded a long time ago,
so where are these thousands of boats racing on the Dead Sea?

I came into this world
with only blank pages, rope and my fingers;
therefore, before final judgements are given,
I need to speak in all the voices of the defendants.

Just let me say, world,
If a thousand challengers are under your feet
count me as challenger one-thousand-and-one.

I don’t believe the sky is always blue;
I don’t believe it was thunder echoing;
I don’t believe all dreaming is false;
I don’t believe the dead cannot bring judgement.

If the sea is doomed someday to break its levees
my heart must flood with all the bitter waters.
If the land is destined to form the hills again,
let real human beings learn to choose the higher ground.

The latest, favorable turnings, the twinkling stars
studding the naked sky,
are pictographs five-thousand years old.
They are the eyes of the future staring at us now.



5 thoughts on “Paean to the East from a Southern Cracker

    1. literary lew Post author

      Author is a contemporary of ours. Re the date of the pictographs, I guess the issue is that they are probably much older???? Not for sure what you are pointing out.


      1. Sandeep Bhalla

        It only recently we have been able to discover that we are looking at thousand years old images of stars because by the time light travels to us, the event is long gone. Refer Stephen Hawkins. That’s why I was curious.


  1. Pingback: Paean to the East from a Southern Cracker | literary lew | Neuro Physiology Blog

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