To the Oak by Shu Ting


If I love you –
I'll never be a clinging campsis flower
Resplendent in borrowed glory on your high boughs; 

If I love you --
I'll never mimic the silly infatuated birds
Repeating the same monotonous song for green shade;
Or be like a spring
Offering cool comfort all year long;

Or a lofty peak
Enhancing your stature, your eminence.
Even the sunlight,
Even spring rain,
None of the these suffice!

I must be a kapok, the image of
A tree standing together with you;

Our roots closely intertwined beneath the earth,
Our leaves touching in the clouds. 

With every whiff of wind
We greet each other
But no one can
Understand our words. 

You'll have bronze limbs and iron trunk,
Like knives, swords
And halberds. 

I'll have my crimson flowers
Like sighs, heavy and deep,
Like heroic torches,
Together we'll share
The cold tidal waves, storms, and thunderbolts; 

Together we'll share
The light mist, the colored rainbows;
We shall always depend on each other.
Only this can be called great love.

Wherein lies the faith, true and deep.
I love not only your stateliness
But also your firm stand, the earth beneath you.

Shu Ting was born in 1952 in Jinjiang, Fujian province. Her secondary education was cut short by the Cultural Revolution and she was sent down to work in the poverty-stricken countryside until 1973. On her return to Fujian, she was to work on construction sites and in factories. In spite of her experiences during this time, her firm faith in the human spirit led to poetry.

Shu Ting became associated with the Misty group when her poems appeared in the underground literary magazine Today. Her voice gently articulated an emotional awareness which a generation dominated by the Cultural Revolution easily identified with.

In the mid 1980s, Shu Ting began to experiment with modernist imagery. Her poetry remains, however, recognizable and distinctly feminine.

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