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Manoa 13.2 (2001) 30-31

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Three Poems

Gu Cheng

Poverty Has a Chilly Nose

Poverty has a chilly nose
he speaks through a crystal ball
when the dewdrops have all
dried to death
wheat fields in every direction
are gold reflections of the sun
dust storms rise in solar winds
the grasses clump
so hot so hot
a pink woman is walking along the dike
the vole drops into its hole
drops into ash
a colorless flame burns on the stove

Poverty has a chilly nose [End Page 30]

A Generation

the black night gave me black eyes
still I use them to seek the light


the sky is gray
the road is gray
the buildings are gray
the rain is gray
through a field of dead gray
two children pass
one bright red
one pale green

Translations by Aaron Crippen


Gu Cheng (1956-1993) was born in Beijing, the son of the poet Gu Gong. In 1969, his family was exiled to the Chinese provinces, where he worked as a swineherd; he returned to Beijing in 1974. Along with Bei Dao and Shu Ting, he emerged as a poet during the Democracy Wall movement of 1979 and was a member of the Misty School of Chinese poetry. By 1986, he had become so popular he was mobbed by fans at his readings, and in 1988, he moved to Auckland, New Zealand. The Poet, a film based on his life, was released in Hong Kong in 1998.



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