Browsing the shelves I came upon this book edited by Czeslaw Milosz, A Book of Luminous Things: An International Anthology of Poetry [808.81 BOO]. There are several reasons why I like it: 1. all the poems are relatively short; 2. it gets away from the Euro-centric view of poetry; 3. the collection spans at least a thousand years; 4. Milosz introduces each poem with a brief note of explanation.
Here's a poem by Po Chü-I, who lived 772-846. It was translated from the Chinese by Arthur Waley.
Madly Singing in the MountainsStop by Teaching Young Writers for the Poetry Friday Round-Up. Have a lovely weekend!
There is no one among men that has not a special failing;
And my failing consists of writing verses.
I have broken away from the thousand ties of life;
But this infirmity still remains behind.
Each time that I look at a fine landscape,
Each time that I meet a loved friend,
I raise my voice and recite a stanza of poetry
And marvel as though a God had crossed my path.
Ever since the day I was banished to Hsün-yang
Half my time I have lived among the hills
And often, when I have finished a new poem,
Alone I climb the road to the Eastern Rock.
I lean my body on the banks of white Stone;
I pull down with my hands a green cassia branch.
My mad singing startles the valleys and hills;
The apes and birds all come to peep.
Fearing to become a laughing-stock to the world,
I choose a place that is unfrequented by men.
Hiroshige woodcut print courtesy Library of Congress.