(Tune: Lantern Festival by Xin Qiji)
Each night the computer screens
x burst into flowering
x men like falling stars.
Cologne fills the streets, BMWs and buses
x move with competing rhythms.
Private music fills headphones,
x ten thousand thumbnails
x dance across cellphones.
Faces obscured by flashes of light
x meld into electronic musk.
In this multitude I search for him,
x compulsively, knowing
x on certain nights, unannounced,
He walks across the shadows of my doorstep.
Depth Charge: This year St Valentine’s Day and the Chinese Lantern Festival, Yuan Xiao, 元宵, coincided. Although it has ancient roots and many associations, the Lantern Festival, which falls on the first full moon after Chinese New Year, also has a romantic association. One of the most famous poems on the subject is Tune: Green Jade Cup—Lantern Festival by Xin Qiji, 辛弃疾 (1140-1207). Xin’s poem is a ci, 词, which were written to tunes—now lost—which are always mentioned in the titles. I have decided to make Xin’s poem my “tune” for an ode to online cruising.
Tune: Green Jade Cup·Lantern Festival
by Xin Qiji
One night’s wind made a thousand trees burst into flower,
x And breath down still more
x Showers of fallen stars.
Splendid horses, carved carriages, fragrance filled the road.
Music resounded from paired flutes,
x Light swirled on water-clock towers.
x All night long, the fabled fish-dragons danced.
Gold-threaded jacket, moth- or willow-shaped hair ornaments
x Melted into the throng, giggling, a trail of scents.
In the crowd I looked for her a thousand and one times,
x And all at once, as I turned my head,
x I was startled to find her
x Among the lanterns where the candles were growing dim.
Translated by Irving Y. Lo from Sunflower Splendor: Three Thousand Years of Chinese Poetry
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