WHEN DID I FIRST KNOW

Anonymous Southern Song artist, Pipa Mountain Bird, in Fu Sinian, ed., Zhongguo meishu quanji, huihua pian 4: Liang Song huihua, xia. Beijing: Wenwu chubanshe, 1988. pl. 96, p. 131. Collection of the National Palace Museum, Beijing. album leaf, colors on silk, 28.9 x 29 cm

When did I first know

I was superior,

A creature of wisdom and dismay,

An animal who knew he was an animal

But that every animal is in his way?

Who knew the moon and the leaf

Were like wine-drinking friends,

But that the leaf and the other things

Belongs to everything that ends?

I hoped, but hoped inside my sad mortality.

It might have been when I loved the world—as it refused to love me.

I think it was when I saw complexity

As simplicity

And this simplicity felt divine

And not only did I feel this; it was mine.

Divinity belonged to me as my pleasure,

Which increased in poetry and music’s measure

In the precise manner I sang my song

To you. So for once I might belong.

 

 

 

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