Reflection on Past Time

Reading again these Chinese verses

I see the moon reflected among bamboos

and night-fowl sounds again caress my ears.


We drank to the stars and friendship warmed by wine,

the harsh tongues came back to me in Europe

with the noise of cars, too many people and no mountains.

Small comfort that in your ancient market

only one man looked up at the hills.


There is no time and what is memory ?

so translated the tall gate's inscription.

The ripples of the sea were waves below us

yet the junks lay still among such billows.

Now they have built a road to the monastery

busses bring pilgrims too lazy

to walk the winding steps to the silent peak


Writing in characters with a brush

an old man sighed for the soldiers marching out.

Still the soldiers are marching out -

and as before - never to return.

There's blood on the bamboo screen            

yet the quiet wind still unfolds.


On oily water at the sea's edge

the dead gulls rise and fall.

Soon there will be no more mountains

no forests or frosts, no clear lakes

or virgin islands, no seas unclean,

no silence hiding the Tiger's eye--

In steel and concrete deserts

there will be the sound of furious voices

establishing brief personal palaces

for thirty years of vainglorious life.


Where will the quiet wind then unfold ?