Today in history: A Chinese poem for autumn

On this first day of autumn, we offer a quiet moment of reflection penned 80 years ago by Lu Hsün (1881-1936), a Chinese writer (real name: Chou Shu-jen) born in Shaoh-sing, Chekiang province. He studied medicine in Japan. Though not a communist himself he was sympathetic to the Chinese communist movement in the last ten years of his life. He was often approvingly quoted by Mao Tse-tung, and his Selected Works have been issued in English translation by Foreign Languages Press in Beijing.

Autumn 1935

Startled by the awe of autumn that reigns over the earth,

Dare I instill the warmth of spring into the tip of my pen?
In this vast sea of dust a hundred feelings have sunk;
In the rustling wind a thousand officials have fled.
In old age, I return to the lake, only to find no reeds on which to rest;
On vacant clouds, my dreams fall; a chill numbs hair and teeth.
My longings for cockcrow in the wilderness encounter only silence.
I rise to watch the setting constellations.

From The Penguin Book of Socialist Verse, 1970.

Photo: Wikimedia (CC)


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