By T'ao Ch'ien
Translated by David Hinton
I live here in this busy village without
all that racket horses and carts stir up,
and you wonder how that could ever be.
Wherever the mind dwells apart is itself
a distant place. Picking chrysanthemums
at my east fence, I see South Mountain
far off: air lovely at dusk, birds in flight
going home. All this means something,
something absolute: whenever I start
to explain it, I forget words altogether.
From this week's Poet's Choice. "T'ao Ch'ien (365-427) was the first major Chinese poet to speak in a direct personal voice about the full range of his immediate experience," writes translator Hinton. "This is the voice that came to typify the Chinese tradition, and it is why classical Chinese poetry has felt so contemporary to American readers." Though T'ao grew up poor on a farm, he had moved to a noisy village when he wrote this poem. "Wine was a way of easing the urge to extract meaning from the world, and what interests me most about this drinking poem is the ending, with its skepticism about language, and all the possibility that offers."
Pretty much all I did today was Bar Mitzvah-related stuff and computer related stuff. I discovered that one of the reasons my desktop PC was running so slowly was that I only had 2G of free space, so I spent hours burning MP3s to DVDs and deleting the files off the hard drive, then even more hours duplicating photos on DVDs and organizing them on my external hard drive, and finally I had to watch various music videos to see if I actually wanted to keep them (I am never getting rid of flummery's Tenth Doctor songvid to the Flobots' "Handlebars" even though it's over 70MG).
I did not have a terrific media day, being pissed off at United for discriminating against fat people and disgusted with Robin Givhan (a professional apologist for the fashion industry) for thinking Susan Boyle should get a makeover because according to Givhan, no one could possibly find her attractive as she looks now (and that, after all, is what's important in a singer -- not her voice). My evening TV was History.com, much more entertaining -- first two episodes of How the Earth Was Made on Yellowstone and asteroids, then Life After People with the Astrodome turned into a giant bat cave, and a wonderful feature on Japan's Hashima Island, which I didn't know about before. Daniel is off on a four-day field trip to the Eastern shore so I was quite distracted from all of the above.