About the Author
Books

POETRY  
PROSE
ESSAYS
INTERVIEW
From the book Kliazma and Yauza
From the book The Wild Rose
From the book Tristan and Isolde
From the book Old Songs
From the book Gates. Windows. Arches
From the book Stanzas in the Manner of Alexander Pope
From the book Stellae and Inscriptions
From the book The Iambic Verses
The Chinese Travelogue  
From An Unfinished Book
From the book The Evening Song
From the book Elegies
From the book The Beginning of a Book
The Chinese Travelogue
(1986)

If you could dull its perspicuity, free it from chaos, limit its gleam,
liken it to a grain of dust, then it would seem to exist clearly.
Lao-Tse
17

When we decide to set out,
not knowing what awaits us,
on the empty ship of inspiration,
on a badly constructed raft,
on a scaly wing,
on a boat without oarsmen,
imagining the best
and worst ends,
and searching for nothing inside:
there in exchange for everything
they cast the oracle bones
on the Book of Changes.
Who created the wasteland of waters?
Who discovered that there is war above?
Who ordered
that gardens should grow
from fiery seeds?
Like the nightingale
better to die
than not sing what has to be sung,
than not to write on the silk
of times what a whole people cannot write.
Inspiration,
when you whistle your tune,
when your waters rise
between dry land and our souls –
if only the whirlwind knew,
and you too, empty smooth waters,
how much I wish for absolution and to kiss somebody’s feet.

Richard McKane

***

17

Whenever we decide to drift,
not knowing what awaits us,
on inspiration’s empty ship,
on the poorly moored raft,
on the scaly wing, or on a boat without oarsmen,
imagining the best
and the worst of ends,
and searching for nothing inside:
that’s when, in exchange for everything
the divining dice are thrown for the I Ching.
Who invented the emptiness of water? who discovered
that up above there is war?
who decreed
that gardens grow from fiery seed?
that a nightingale would rather die
than not sing what he sings,
than not write out on the silk of time
that which the people can’t.
Each time you blow into your whistle,
inspiration, each time
between earth and our soul your springs
climb –
if only you knew, whirlwind of death
and you empty surface,
how I want to kiss your feet and beg forgiveness.

Andrew Wachtel
1. I was surprised by...
2. The pond speaks...
3. They don’t fall, though they fall...
4. There, on the hill...
5. Do you know...
6. I shall only see...
7. The boat flies...
8. The roofs are raised at the edges...
9. Unhappy...
10. Great is the artist who knows no debt...
11. With tenderness and depth...
12. Perhaps you are the precious ring of the spirit...
13. Will we really part...
14. Flute answers flute...
15. They say, they have gone on the white road...
16. You know that I love you so much...
 17. When we decide to set out...
18. Let us praise our earth...
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