A Homage to Li Po

The brilliant moonlight

pierces my shut lids

like an interrogatory lamp

boring through my subconscious.

In my somnolent state,

Li Po’s poem from my childhood

springs into mind,

recalling family, homeland

the bitter sweet yearning

of all that is dear and familiar

by the exile faraway

in some distant land.

But that would be an untruth

in my present position:

my statelessness,

my schizophrenic mélange

of language,culture and cuisine

leaves me afloat

like a kite


the skein that binds me

to my ethnic origins

lies tangled,

fitfully held,

so as not to lose the thread.

Often, deep into the night,

I watch satellite t.v.

Chinese programmes,

acessing a language

grown rusty with disuse.

The luminous moon

beams still mercilessly

into my room

on to my bed


unplaced guilt.

I pay homage to Li Po

to his homeland

and that of my ancestors, not mine

never even visited

yet still bound

by a desolate sense

of homesickness.


Quiet night thoughts

Before my bed

there is bright moonlight

so that it seems

like frost on the ground;


Lifting my head

I watch the bright moon

Lowering my head

I dream that I’m home

– Li Po

(translated by Arthur Cooper)