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Poem: "The Presence of China" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith
ysabetwordsmith
Poem: "The Presence of China"

This poem came from the January 4, 2011 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired and sponsored by the_vulture.  (marina_bonomi also expressed interest in this one.)  It's about the way an ancient culture builds upon itself in layers, always adapting yet ever remaining itself.


The Presence of China


Clay warriors rest beneath the earth,
eternally vigilant in their long staid ranks.
The Great Wall marches endlessly along the border,
its stone face staring down enemies now gone to dust.

China is here.

The cities twine themselves into knots of asphalt,
their streets combed clean by beggars' fingers.
Neon lights leap from every window,
as nimble as the spell's from a sorcerer's hands.

China is here.

An ancient language turns itself on the tongue,
as sweet and sour as festival chicken.
Words dance across the page, following an artist's brush,
leaving their black tracks on rice paper and eye and mind.

China is here.

The old magic sleeps and dreams and renews itself,
bamboo shooting and seeding beneath a panda's paws.
Imperial dragons wind their way through cyberspace,
swallowing and disgorging pearls of wisdom.

China is here,
has always been,
will always be.

China is here.

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Current Mood: busy busy

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Comments
marina_bonomi From: marina_bonomi Date: January 5th, 2011 09:29 pm (UTC) (Link)

Yes!

This is the essence of it: always changing, always itself.
'Zhongguo zai zher' :)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 6th, 2011 12:21 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes!

*happy dance*

I am delighted to be conveying concepts that render elegantly in the matching language. When I wrote this, I was thinking about the differences between Japan and China. Japan has a kind of dynamic balance; it cycles and transforms, without losing its own flavor. China is more like dancing in place, motion without travel. A subtle difference, but interesting to contemplate. I like studying how cultures choose to evolve.
fayanora From: fayanora Date: January 6th, 2011 01:24 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes!

Japan is the hip college-age sibling to China's high school but conservative younger sibling. Japan does well without really trying, but doesn't blow off its responsibilities, and China does well because it is a studious, hard worker.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 6th, 2011 06:43 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes!

Wow, that's a good description.
fayanora From: fayanora Date: January 6th, 2011 06:52 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes!

Heh, the comparison just came to me wholesale, like most thoughts of mine. :-)
jolantru From: jolantru Date: January 6th, 2011 06:04 am (UTC) (Link)
Zhongguo di yi.

China number one.

:)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 6th, 2011 06:40 am (UTC) (Link)

Yay!

I'm glad you liked this.
the_vulture From: the_vulture Date: January 6th, 2011 06:21 am (UTC) (Link)
And to think that such a thoughtful expression of such a long and living history arose from a prompt inspired by a film like Big Trouble In Little China. :)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 6th, 2011 06:39 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

It was simply a matter of taking the core motifs in a more serious direction. The movie may do silly things with its motifs, but some of them are perfectly valid.
the_vulture From: the_vulture Date: January 6th, 2011 07:16 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

*chuckle* I know. I just like the irony. :)
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