Poems

14 • metaphor

Notes

Not quite as easy to complete as '16 ยท search' - the first of the three of Chen Yuhong's poems from her collection Suoyin* that we completed in our workshop - we got snagged on 'precisely-cut' in the literal, which eventually became 'machine-cut'.

We realised that 'these clouds, star clusters' were nebulae, those fabulous interstellar dust and gas clouds.

* Chenxin Jiang, Chen's translator, writes:
'Suoyin, the title of this collection, consists of two characters: suo, to search, and yin, to hide or be hidden. The word suoyin first appears in the I Ching, where it denotes the search for obscure or hidden things; but it is also the word for a concordance to an ancient text, usually with extensive commentary - such as the Tang dynasty historian Shima Zhen's masterful suoyin on Shima Qian's classic text "Records of the Grand Historian".

'Chen explains in the preface to Suoyin that she has borrowed the word to describe the poet's search for metaphor (the Chinese word for metaphor, yinyu, contains the character yin, because metaphors are taken as a sort of hidden simile). Each of the poems in her collection is headed either suo (to search) or yin (metaphor). But the collection also doubles as a commentary on an ancient text, since Chen's own poems are interspersed with her translations of fragments of Sappho.'

Suoyin, the title of this collection, consists of two characters: suo, to search, and yin, to hide or be hidden. The word suoyin first appears in the I Ching, where it denotes the search for obscure or hidden things; but it is also the word for a concordance to an ancient text, usually with extensive commentary - such as the Tang dynasty historian Shima Zhen's masterful suoyin on Shima Qian's classic text 'Records of the Grand Historian'.

Chen explains in the preface to Suoyin that she has borrowed the word to describe the poet's search for metaphor (the Chinese word for metaphor, yinyu, contains the character yin, because metaphors are taken as a sort of hidden simile). Each of the poems in her collection is headed either suo (to search) or yin (metaphor). But the collection also doubles as a commentary on an ancient text, since Chen's own poems are interspersed with her translations of fragments of Sappho.

Share this poem

view comments

Comments (2)

Peter Mullins

After further work…
Around beam-barricaded
bedsides, shards of crafted light
wait to pierce through naked soles,
yet look left, just off centre,
roughly where the heart should be,
a chaos-cluster spews, foals,
cloudy-edged, joyous, required
confusion’s wild scattering;
the still pools, the perfect bowls
of your imagination,
have been, the moon says, the snare
for jigsaw habited souls:
a thousand splinters of moon
will not piece together whole.

Peter Mullins

A thousand splinters of moon will not piece together whole. Beam-barricaded bedsides are where shards of crafted light wait to pierce each naked sole, yet look left, just off centre, roughly where the heart should be, where the chaos-clusters foal, cloudly-edged, joyous, and free, while image-confusion traps each jigsaw obsessive soul. A thousand splinters of moon will not piece together whole.

Leave a comment