East Idioms (8)

Changming Yuan



1/ So long as the green mountain is still out there

There is no worrying about want of firewood


2/ The itch is worse when scratched from outside the shoe

The flower would be fairer if looked at from behind the fog


3/ The oak desires to remain still

But the wind must keep blowing


4/ Rather to be a jade broken to pieces

Than to be a tile unharmed as a whole


5/ The Sichuan dog barks at the rising sun

As it seldom appears in this rainy season


6/ The mantis tries to catch the cicada in the front

While a shadowy oriole is stalking it close behind


7/ The couple sleeps closely on one and the same bed

Their dreams are as widely different as day and night



Changming Yuan grew up in rural China, authored three books before moving to Canada, and currently teaches writing in Vancouver. Yuan's poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Canadian Literature, Drunken Boat, Exquisite Corpse, Iodine, London Magazine, Salzburg Review and others.