Sunday, April 3, 2011

Plus ça change....

First, my apologies to those of you who have checked back to this blog for the past ten days, drumming your fingers on your laptops, impatiently waiting for a new post. (Yes, I can hear all two of you.)  I'd like to say it was all intentional—I'm a proponent of slow blogging— but a combination of work deadlines, a sprained sacro-iliac joint and arm problems from too much mousing slowed me down for a while. Nevertheless, I've been gestating a number of ideas and I am looking forward to posting about them this coming week.

In the meantime, I want to share a poem, "The Fat of the Land," by the Tang dynasty poet Bai Juyi (772-846 AD) as translated by Frederick Turner:

A cavalcade of arrogance rides through,
Harness and horse so bright the mere dust shines;
And may I ask what do these people do?
They're the imperial eunuch chamberlains.

If he's in red robes, he's a bureaucrat,
If in a purple sash, a general;
Off to the army banquet, proud of that,
They gallop past, like clouds before a squall.

Nine vintages the flagons overspill,
Dainties from lake and land are spread to please;
They split the juicy Dong Ting oranges,
Spear morsels of sweet perch from heaven's seas.

They've drunk and eaten to their heart's content:
Puffed up still more with airs, they're merry then.

This year there's drought in the south continent;
In Qu Zhou men now eat the flesh of men.

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose....


  1. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

    so true

  2. I was so struck by the contrast between the militaristic, wealthy men of the first stanzas, and the famine of the south continent - -we still have a southern hemisphere plagued by drought and famine.