游崇真观南楼睹新及第题名处 Visiting the South Tower of Lofty-Truth Temple, I View the Newly Inscribed Names of Imperial Graduates – 鱼玄机 Yu Xuanji

游崇真观南楼,
睹新及第题名处

云峰满目放春晴,
历历银钩指下生。
自恨罗衣掩诗句,
举头空羡榜中名。

-鱼玄机

Visiting the South Tower of Lofty-Truth Temple,
I view the newly inscribed names of Imperial Graduates

Cloudy summits fill my eyes this fine spring day,
I catch every silver stroke beneath my fingertips.
How I hate this silk dress which conceals my poetry,
I raise my head in hopeless envy of the names that are listed.

– Yu XuanJi

Translation by Dean Marais

About Yu Xuanji:

Yu XuanJi wrote her first poem at 6 years old. When she was older, being exceptionally beautiful, she was sold as a concubine to an official who fell in love with her. However, his jealous wife forced him to throw her out. With no home or income she had to turn to prostitution in Chang’An. She met many of the poets of her day there, and ended up at a taoist temple where she continued to write poems. The story goes that she was falsely accused of murder, and though many of her poet friends pleaded for her life, she was executed in Chang’An at 26 years of age.

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Progress

We live our days indifferent
To the ferocious violence around us
And those who notice, state,
That this is “just the way things are.”
We are God’s children
Living in a world
That is an existential island
And this is Lord of the Flies.

We all LOVE…
Ourselves
We all HATE…
Truth
And we all idolize
Darkness.

Brutality, we claim,
Is a problem only in foreign lands
And we excuse our indifference
Because of large bodies of water.
We look at the civil wars of the East
And we boast of our Western civilized-ness
While we murder our babies
And turn them into face products.
Evil never looked so good, or so young!

We are so self-righteous
And so, so, sensitive
“Don’t judge me!”
“What’s wrong to you may not be wrong to me!”
And we ignore the darkness within
Ascribing the darkness in others to “illness”
And we try to cure murderers and rapists
With the same pills
That we take to stay sane.

Our daughters are having group sex
But don’t worry, it’s just a teenage “phase.”
Our sons are addicted to pornography
But studies show it’s a healthy part of his development.
Either way, it’s nothing they didn’t learn in school already.
And when the despair takes grip
We fill our glasses and medicate,
Killing ourselves daily for just a little more.
A little more money,
A little more fame,
A little more pleasure,
A little more “enlightenment.”
Ending our selfish lives
Bitter and cold.
Unless,
Love saves us.