A Gold Orchid: The Love Poems of Tzu Yeh by William McNaughton, Lenore Mayhew

By William McNaughton, Lenore Mayhew

Those attractive and unique poems are made to be had to Western readers in a translation that fuses the imagery of age-old China with a supple, vigorous sleek idiom. This translation (with explanatory notes) allows Western readers to understand the sensitivity, grace, and poetic ability that make the Tzu Yeh poems some of the most very important creative contributions in their time.

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Extra info for A Gold Orchid: The Love Poems of Tzu Yeh

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I touch his face I kiss him on the cheek I run out the door The golden man follows me I run and run My father appears as the feeling of a vision And layers upon me I am two ghosts I stop and the man stops And my father’s ghost stops And I look down and there is a hole 27 And I punch the man again And my father and I go down into the hole We slide down the hole for hours My father is calm Just stop, he says I ask him if this is America It is, the golden man says As he catches us at the end of the hole Where there is a room With all my friends By friends, I don’t mean all of the people I’ve known I mean all of the people I’ve truly loved Smiling at me, everyone is calm I sit down and they all come rushing at me My father fastens me to a seat next to him Am I still a witch, I ask them My friend Conrad tells me we are still witches One wall of the room drops And turns into a giant face The face is awful I look into the eyes I melt and scream Then I am whole again I am by a stream 28 There is a farm with animals I have made this farm I get up and tend to the fruit trees And put the fruit in a basket And in the background I hear children playing And on the edge of my farm is a school And the children are learning near my farm And I go about it And I go about it for a good long while 29 Everyone keeps me from my destiny Everyone keeps me from my destiny Keeps me from it And keeps me locked away from beauty And they can’t feel my beauty In me reaching out Like glass into itself And then into glass And everyone keeps me from myself Cause the self they had imagined Was flesh and bone And this flesh I am is glass And everyone keeps me from my genius Because genius is not human And everyone wants me to be human And I am not human And everyone expects me to be something they are, which is human And I can’t be anything they are which is human Because I am not human And they are And I am not human 30 This is a poem for you How could this come to a good conclusion I thought of your face, strange and French And your sweater full of robins You most likely think I do not pay much attention To your face But I was sitting by the train When inside I saw it burning I’m sorry that some people Think of this burning as nostalgia Or sentimentality And that we have to endure them And that they are so boring To want to think away everything That is beautiful on this earth I’m sorry that we have to think Of other times when it might have been More acceptable to burn You were there When I told you that a cold November Would come Wind and rain, the cold 31 May have hardened me But there is not much else I am willing To leave anything for but your Face that is wet with wildflowers The white wind, the warm wind The cooling prisms above the beach The beachtrees and scattered leaves Above the Winter that will never come I am not sure if we matter I am not sure if your face matters But I will destroy this house for it anyway But I will scorch this black world for it anyway Wet face and wild wind I told you all it would come This is a poem for you This is a poem for all of you Awful and quiet 32 I like weird ass hippies I like weird ass hippies And men with hairy backs And small green animals And organic milk And chickens that hatch Out of farms in Vermont I like weird ass stuff When we reach the other world We will all be hippies I like your weird ass spirit stick that you carry around I like when you rub sage on my door I like the lamb’s blood you throw on my face I like heaping sugar in a jar and saying a prayer And then having it work I like cursing out an enemy And then cursing them in objects Soaking their baby tooth in oil Lighting it on fire with a tiny plastic horse I like running through the fields of green I am so caught up in flowers and fruit I like shampooing my body In strange potions you bought wholesale in Guatemala 33 I like when you rub your patchouli on me And tell me I’m a man I am a fucking man A weird ass fucking man If I didn’t know any better I’d think I were Jesus or something If I didn’t know any better I’d sail to Ancient Greece Wear sandals Then go to Rome Murder my daughter in front of the gods Smoke powdered lapis Carve pictographs into your dress A thousand miles away from anything When I die I will be a strange fucking hippie And so will you So will you So get your cut-up heart away from What you think you know You know, we are all going away from here At least have some human patience For what lies on the other side 34 You are beautiful You are beautiful But you are also heartbreak Locked forever frozen in time A cry I cannot get out No matter how much I grease myself With honey Pink palette of grapefruit, the book on the shoulder Of the room, the rose gardens But I do not want you to be so I want to be spilling forth with the acid yellow honey of the bees O love, take me thusforth Into your secret places I will never travel I will never wake You are more than heartbreak In your fanciful suits and closing sighs You are more than the shining blue room On the afternoon of the date, the cold bite You are the hot breath too I take myself into The hot red fruit I take myself into The living breathing thing I take in, I want to 35 Be a watery nymph in a wooded grove With you I want to be a cloud so full of honey That there is nothing left of me Until I throw myself into the fire And am contained forever I will be contained forever, a thing of beauty Forever I will be that thing forever I don’t want to be beautiful with you I want to be an ugly, wretched, bleeding thing Pouring out on the windmills I want to be the locked tiger they can’t lock up Until it murders and then rages through the fields Of wild grasses I want to be so wild they can’t lock me up Put fences around me to pen me in I will be so full of fire that they won’t be able to extinguish me Before the beauty comes I want to be so full of fire That they can’t tell me from you, my wretched angel Sweet animal, they locked us in this life But I think we still have time before we have to get out of it 36 Ugly Feelings after Sianne Ngai Why are people so cruel?

I touch his face I kiss him on the cheek I run out the door The golden man follows me I run and run My father appears as the feeling of a vision And layers upon me I am two ghosts I stop and the man stops And my father’s ghost stops And I look down and there is a hole 27 And I punch the man again And my father and I go down into the hole We slide down the hole for hours My father is calm Just stop, he says I ask him if this is America It is, the golden man says As he catches us at the end of the hole Where there is a room With all my friends By friends, I don’t mean all of the people I’ve known I mean all of the people I’ve truly loved Smiling at me, everyone is calm I sit down and they all come rushing at me My father fastens me to a seat next to him Am I still a witch, I ask them My friend Conrad tells me we are still witches One wall of the room drops And turns into a giant face The face is awful I look into the eyes I melt and scream Then I am whole again I am by a stream 28 There is a farm with animals I have made this farm I get up and tend to the fruit trees And put the fruit in a basket And in the background I hear children playing And on the edge of my farm is a school And the children are learning near my farm And I go about it And I go about it for a good long while 29 Everyone keeps me from my destiny Everyone keeps me from my destiny Keeps me from it And keeps me locked away from beauty And they can’t feel my beauty In me reaching out Like glass into itself And then into glass And everyone keeps me from myself Cause the self they had imagined Was flesh and bone And this flesh I am is glass And everyone keeps me from my genius Because genius is not human And everyone wants me to be human And I am not human And everyone expects me to be something they are, which is human And I can’t be anything they are which is human Because I am not human And they are And I am not human 30 This is a poem for you How could this come to a good conclusion I thought of your face, strange and French And your sweater full of robins You most likely think I do not pay much attention To your face But I was sitting by the train When inside I saw it burning I’m sorry that some people Think of this burning as nostalgia Or sentimentality And that we have to endure them And that they are so boring To want to think away everything That is beautiful on this earth I’m sorry that we have to think Of other times when it might have been More acceptable to burn You were there When I told you that a cold November Would come Wind and rain, the cold 31 May have hardened me But there is not much else I am willing To leave anything for but your Face that is wet with wildflowers The white wind, the warm wind The cooling prisms above the beach The beachtrees and scattered leaves Above the Winter that will never come I am not sure if we matter I am not sure if your face matters But I will destroy this house for it anyway But I will scorch this black world for it anyway Wet face and wild wind I told you all it would come This is a poem for you This is a poem for all of you Awful and quiet 32 I like weird ass hippies I like weird ass hippies And men with hairy backs And small green animals And organic milk And chickens that hatch Out of farms in Vermont I like weird ass stuff When we reach the other world We will all be hippies I like your weird ass spirit stick that you carry around I like when you rub sage on my door I like the lamb’s blood you throw on my face I like heaping sugar in a jar and saying a prayer And then having it work I like cursing out an enemy And then cursing them in objects Soaking their baby tooth in oil Lighting it on fire with a tiny plastic horse I like running through the fields of green I am so caught up in flowers and fruit I like shampooing my body In strange potions you bought wholesale in Guatemala 33 I like when you rub your patchouli on me And tell me I’m a man I am a fucking man A weird ass fucking man If I didn’t know any better I’d think I were Jesus or something If I didn’t know any better I’d sail to Ancient Greece Wear sandals Then go to Rome Murder my daughter in front of the gods Smoke powdered lapis Carve pictographs into your dress A thousand miles away from anything When I die I will be a strange fucking hippie And so will you So will you So get your cut-up heart away from What you think you know You know, we are all going away from here At least have some human patience For what lies on the other side 34 You are beautiful You are beautiful But you are also heartbreak Locked forever frozen in time A cry I cannot get out No matter how much I grease myself With honey Pink palette of grapefruit, the book on the shoulder Of the room, the rose gardens But I do not want you to be so I want to be spilling forth with the acid yellow honey of the bees O love, take me thusforth Into your secret places I will never travel I will never wake You are more than heartbreak In your fanciful suits and closing sighs You are more than the shining blue room On the afternoon of the date, the cold bite You are the hot breath too I take myself into The hot red fruit I take myself into The living breathing thing I take in, I want to 35 Be a watery nymph in a wooded grove With you I want to be a cloud so full of honey That there is nothing left of me Until I throw myself into the fire And am contained forever I will be contained forever, a thing of beauty Forever I will be that thing forever I don’t want to be beautiful with you I want to be an ugly, wretched, bleeding thing Pouring out on the windmills I want to be the locked tiger they can’t lock up Until it murders and then rages through the fields Of wild grasses I want to be so wild they can’t lock me up Put fences around me to pen me in I will be so full of fire that they won’t be able to extinguish me Before the beauty comes I want to be so full of fire That they can’t tell me from you, my wretched angel Sweet animal, they locked us in this life But I think we still have time before we have to get out of it 36 Ugly Feelings after Sianne Ngai Why are people so cruel?

I touch his face I kiss him on the cheek I run out the door The golden man follows me I run and run My father appears as the feeling of a vision And layers upon me I am two ghosts I stop and the man stops And my father’s ghost stops And I look down and there is a hole 27 And I punch the man again And my father and I go down into the hole We slide down the hole for hours My father is calm Just stop, he says I ask him if this is America It is, the golden man says As he catches us at the end of the hole Where there is a room With all my friends By friends, I don’t mean all of the people I’ve known I mean all of the people I’ve truly loved Smiling at me, everyone is calm I sit down and they all come rushing at me My father fastens me to a seat next to him Am I still a witch, I ask them My friend Conrad tells me we are still witches One wall of the room drops And turns into a giant face The face is awful I look into the eyes I melt and scream Then I am whole again I am by a stream 28 There is a farm with animals I have made this farm I get up and tend to the fruit trees And put the fruit in a basket And in the background I hear children playing And on the edge of my farm is a school And the children are learning near my farm And I go about it And I go about it for a good long while 29 Everyone keeps me from my destiny Everyone keeps me from my destiny Keeps me from it And keeps me locked away from beauty And they can’t feel my beauty In me reaching out Like glass into itself And then into glass And everyone keeps me from myself Cause the self they had imagined Was flesh and bone And this flesh I am is glass And everyone keeps me from my genius Because genius is not human And everyone wants me to be human And I am not human And everyone expects me to be something they are, which is human And I can’t be anything they are which is human Because I am not human And they are And I am not human 30 This is a poem for you How could this come to a good conclusion I thought of your face, strange and French And your sweater full of robins You most likely think I do not pay much attention To your face But I was sitting by the train When inside I saw it burning I’m sorry that some people Think of this burning as nostalgia Or sentimentality And that we have to endure them And that they are so boring To want to think away everything That is beautiful on this earth I’m sorry that we have to think Of other times when it might have been More acceptable to burn You were there When I told you that a cold November Would come Wind and rain, the cold 31 May have hardened me But there is not much else I am willing To leave anything for but your Face that is wet with wildflowers The white wind, the warm wind The cooling prisms above the beach The beachtrees and scattered leaves Above the Winter that will never come I am not sure if we matter I am not sure if your face matters But I will destroy this house for it anyway But I will scorch this black world for it anyway Wet face and wild wind I told you all it would come This is a poem for you This is a poem for all of you Awful and quiet 32 I like weird ass hippies I like weird ass hippies And men with hairy backs And small green animals And organic milk And chickens that hatch Out of farms in Vermont I like weird ass stuff When we reach the other world We will all be hippies I like your weird ass spirit stick that you carry around I like when you rub sage on my door I like the lamb’s blood you throw on my face I like heaping sugar in a jar and saying a prayer And then having it work I like cursing out an enemy And then cursing them in objects Soaking their baby tooth in oil Lighting it on fire with a tiny plastic horse I like running through the fields of green I am so caught up in flowers and fruit I like shampooing my body In strange potions you bought wholesale in Guatemala 33 I like when you rub your patchouli on me And tell me I’m a man I am a fucking man A weird ass fucking man If I didn’t know any better I’d think I were Jesus or something If I didn’t know any better I’d sail to Ancient Greece Wear sandals Then go to Rome Murder my daughter in front of the gods Smoke powdered lapis Carve pictographs into your dress A thousand miles away from anything When I die I will be a strange fucking hippie And so will you So will you So get your cut-up heart away from What you think you know You know, we are all going away from here At least have some human patience For what lies on the other side 34 You are beautiful You are beautiful But you are also heartbreak Locked forever frozen in time A cry I cannot get out No matter how much I grease myself With honey Pink palette of grapefruit, the book on the shoulder Of the room, the rose gardens But I do not want you to be so I want to be spilling forth with the acid yellow honey of the bees O love, take me thusforth Into your secret places I will never travel I will never wake You are more than heartbreak In your fanciful suits and closing sighs You are more than the shining blue room On the afternoon of the date, the cold bite You are the hot breath too I take myself into The hot red fruit I take myself into The living breathing thing I take in, I want to 35 Be a watery nymph in a wooded grove With you I want to be a cloud so full of honey That there is nothing left of me Until I throw myself into the fire And am contained forever I will be contained forever, a thing of beauty Forever I will be that thing forever I don’t want to be beautiful with you I want to be an ugly, wretched, bleeding thing Pouring out on the windmills I want to be the locked tiger they can’t lock up Until it murders and then rages through the fields Of wild grasses I want to be so wild they can’t lock me up Put fences around me to pen me in I will be so full of fire that they won’t be able to extinguish me Before the beauty comes I want to be so full of fire That they can’t tell me from you, my wretched angel Sweet animal, they locked us in this life But I think we still have time before we have to get out of it 36 Ugly Feelings after Sianne Ngai Why are people so cruel?

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