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Fathers and Daughters – “China: Its History and Culture” – Morton, W. Scott

March 31st, 2011 · No Comments · China, Culture, Poetry

Two poems of Bo Juyi on the death after two days’ illness of Golden Bells, his only child, a girl of three, perhaps two by Western reckoning:

Girls are a burden, but if one has no son
It is strange how fond one can grow, even of a girl! …
The clothes she was wearing are still hanging on the pegs;
The rest of her medicine is still at die side of her bed.
I bore her coffin down the long village street;
I watched them heap the small mound on her grave.
Do not tell me it is only a mile away;
What lies between us is all Eternity.
And then, three years later:
Ruined and ill-a man of two score;
Pretty and guileless—a little girl of three.
Not a boy—but still better than nothing:
To soothe one’s feeling—from time to time a kiss!
There came a day—they suddenly took her from me;
Her soul’s shadow wandered I know not where.
And when I remember how just at the time she died
She lisped strange sounds, beginning to learn to talk,
Then I know that the ties of flesh and blood
Only bind us to a load of grief and sorrow.
At last, by thinking of the time before she was born,
By thought and reason I drove the pain away.
Since my heart forgot her, many days have passed
And three times winter has changed to spring.
This morning, for a little, the old grief came back,
Because, in the road, I met her foster-nurse.

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