Longing, A Lion

By ZHENG MIN

Translated by STEPHEN HAVEN and LI YONGYI

Inside my body there is a gaping mouth,
A lion roaring
Rushing to the end of the bridge,
As the ship glides by.
Looking down at the river’s rush
It hears the clamor of the times
Like an elephant’s trumpet in the forest,
Throws a backward glance at me
Into the cage of my body.
The lion’s golden hair dazzles like the sun,
The call of the elephant’s drum.
This charge blooms in me,
Lures me to the bridge edge.

Zheng Min was born in Fujian in 1920. She is a renowned poet, scholar and literary critic. She has published poetry since the early 1940s and eventually earned an MA in literature from Brown University. She returned to China in 1955. Her early work was discovered by younger Chinese poets as a major influence on the poetic revolution of the 1980s. She has written and published widely over the past 30 years, securing her iconic status in contemporary Chinese poetry.
 
Stephen Haven is the author of The Last Sacred Place in North America (2012, winner of the New American Press Poetry Prize). He has published two previous collections of poetry, Dust and Bread (2008, for which he was named Ohio Poet of the Year), and The Long Silence of the Mohawk Carpet Smokestack (2004). He directs the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Ashland University, in Ohio. He was twice a Fulbright Professor of American literature at universities in Beijing.

Li Yongyi is Professor of English at Chongqing University, in Chongqing, China. He was a 2012–2013 Fulbright Scholar in Residence at the University of Washington. His major fields of scholarship include Anglo-American modern poetry, classical Roman poetry, and classical Chinese poetry. He has translated fourteen books into Chinese from English, French and Latin. His translation of Carmina was the first Chinese translation of the entire body of Catullus’s poetry. He is the author on one collection of his own poems, Swordsman Poet Phantom.

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Longing, A Lion

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