Hong Kong (Heung Gong) means Fragrant Harbour


Fragrant Harbour

Here, late at night, I walk to the harbor
To watch thick fog roll in with the waves
That wash the strange shapes on the shore
With a thick black sheen of pungent mist.

On the bay's black water nothing is visible
But the shimmer of lights drawing parallels
And intersecting diagonals in a graceful
Geometry both fluid and exact, pulsing
And pausing on the deep dark expanse
Measured more by time than by distance.

For countless years the lanterns of sampans
And junks left these same lights in their wake.
On a night like this some sleepless mandarin
Stood here and watched the fog and lights
Glide across the water, felt the fragrant mist,
Heard eternity here in a bamboo flute's notes.

There are places that are timeless, not because
They never change but become something else
So slowly we lose all patience and perspective
For seeing what began long before we came
And will continue long after we are gone.

Here it is still thirteen-hundred years ago
And Wu Tao-Tzu is standing beside me,
Brushing pale pastels on a rice paper scroll
In strokes so simple and so translucent
That they reveal even now the essence
He saw beneath the appearance of things.

And sprawled by the water's edge Li Po
Writes a poem in his drunken calligraphy:
"Frost clothes all things in Autumn,
Winds waft, the broad wastes cold.
Glory, splendor, eastward flowing stream,
This world's affairs just waves."


Here a thousand years is only a moment,
And here is beyond the limits of my language,
My words too new to know the old meanings.
Already they are fading now as I write them.



(The quoted lines are from Li Po's poem "Ancient Air"
translated by J. P. Seaton.)




Poetry by countryfog
Read 271 times
Written on 2011-03-09 at 17:17

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Lawrence Beck The PoetBay support member heart!
Not so. Your words simply join Li Po's.
2011-03-12


shells
This gave me an insight into a place I have never seen and somehow the immeasurable time that marries with this place. I loved the line "my words too new to know the old meanings" and your title has educated me, thanks!
2011-03-09