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Skies of Winter Nights

March 04, 1990|DUODUO | From "Looking Out From Death: From the Cultural Revolution to Tiananmen Square, the New Chinese Poetry of Duoduo" (Bloomsbury Publishing Ltd., 2 Soho Square, London W1V 5DE, United Kingdom: 128 pp.; 0-7475-0555-1), translated by Gregory Lee and John Cayley. Duoduo (original name: Li Shizheng) took as his pen name the name of his daughter, who died in her infancy. He was born in 1951 and has spent most of his life in Beijing, where he works on a national newspaper. Though much of his poetry is not overtly political, he is controversial by dint of close association with the group of younger, "modernist" poets of whom the best known is Bei Dao. Duoduo, 1989. Translation Gregory Lee and John Cayley, 1989. Reprinted by permission of Bloomsbury Publishing Ltd

My bed has four white rats for its feet.

I walk out into the night sky, as if into a cage

then skate out over the heavens.

So clear, so resonant,

the skies of winter nights,

more expansive, emptier than a deserted scrapyard.

Snowflakes are drunken moths

and the villages dotted here and there

are wine barrels buried in the snow.

'Who will come and clasp me round the neck?'

I can hear a horse

murmuring as it trots.

'Clip, clip,' a huge pair of shears has begun to work.

From within a great cavern, the stars all begin to rise

and billowing waves are spied in the horse's eyes.

Ah, I feel so good.

As if I was running my hands all the way down

the smooth, glistening spine of a whale.

I am searching for the city where I live.

I am searching for my beloved,

there on the pedals of my bicycle, those two restless


Let the wood

rest in the timberyard and get on with its nightmare.

Let the new moon lying on the ash-coloured desert

get on and sharpen its sickle.

Not necessarily from the East:

I see the sun as a thread of pearls.

The sun is a necklace of pearls, rising in succession. . .


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