Rondo by Zhao Si – translated by Bruce Meyer with Xuan Yuan & Tim Lilburn

“Passing Years” is a folk song leaving sadness in one’s chilled chest;
there comes a moment when no horse will pass by
on the vast plain of heart, but must turn its head and cock its ears to listen:
a simple melody like the mountain you gazed at as a child,
melting into the twilight and fading away at the end of the road while you look back.
All mournful songs of separation, death, roaming, and exile
come from and drift about with the ancient ballads;
the beginning of the world also could find its shelter in your body,
could ascend the ladder you would have climbed in the wind,
could follow up your flourishing or impoverished years, loudly or silently.
At a moment when the mind stretches into a far afield,
you hear the folk song that was heard and will be heard
by an ancestor or descendant who forced and will be forced to the chill to retreat
with a stove burning to fire their souls out of the dark days.

Zhao Si (1972). Poet, essayist, translator and editor in China.Sheis the author of White Crows (poems, China Peace Publishing House, 2005) and Gold-in-sand Picker, (essays, CPPH, 2005). She has translated poetry by Tomaž Šalamun and has been invited to international poetry festivals in Europe.  She currently serves as the translation editor for the Poetry Magazine, which is the poetry journal of the Chinese Writers’ Association. She is also the associate editor of the journal Contemporary International Poetry. She lives in Beijing.

Bruce Meyer (1957) is author or editor of sixty-three books of poetry, short fiction, non-fiction, literary journalism, memoir, portrait photographs, textbooks, and reference books. He is twice winner of the Gwendolyn MacEwen Prize for Poetry, the E.J. Pratt Gold Medal and Prize for Poetry. His most recent books are A Feast of Brief Hopes (short stories) and The First Taste: New and Selected Poems. He was the inaugural Poet Laureate of the City of Barrie, and lives in Barrie where he teaches at Georgian College and is a Fellow of Victoria College in the University of Toronto where he teaches Creative Writing and Comparative Literature.