Friday, October 28, 2011

Poets Read at Occupy Boston

Yesterday, Oct. 27, in Dewey Square, Boston, Don McLagan tries to keep his poems dry.

Rain picks up. People begin to gather for the reading.

It was my turn. I read "Buying Flowers," a poem from the T'ang Dynasty, which speaks for the poor man in the "emperor's city." As I read this 8th century poem, I felt part of a cycle of voices. Rain spotted the page.

Buying Flowers

Late spring in this emperor’s city,

horses and carts clattering past:

it’s peony season on the avenues

and the people stream out to buy.

They won’t be this cheap for long.

At these prices, anyone can buy.

Showing five delicate whites amid

hundreds of huge luminous reds,

they rig canopies to shelter them

and bamboo screens to shield them,

sprinkle them, stand them in mud,

keeping their color rich and fresh.

Families come back day after day:

people just can’t shake their spell.

Happening by the flower markets,

an old man from a farm somewhere

gazes down and sighs to himself,

a sight no one here could fathom:

a single clutch of bottomless color

sells for taxes on ten village farms.

Po Chu-i (772-846 C.E.)

Translated from the Chinese by David Hinton

J. took the photo. Po Chu-i's poem set in spring, in the imperial city, fits the fall day in Boston. That red umbrella is a rain-spotted peony, and the folder in my hand a big petal. Let's stop there before metaphors taken too far become absurd.


  1. Lovely choice, Miriam,

    Thanks for that ... defiant gesture.


  2. A gesture, John. A small one. These forces--economy, unchecked greed, etc., are so much greater than we are. I can be a grabber too but try to limit my greed.

    I love the poem because the poet does not rant. The flowers remain gorgeous, the farmer sighs to himself, unheard, but we hear.

  3. Rain-liquide sunshine.

    Thank you for sharing such. Please have you all a good weekend.

  4. way behind in my blog browsing...but happy to find you here, Mim, and reading such an appropriate poem.

    such heart; in the rain, reading poetry.

  5. Me too, way behind, Susan. I'll catch you soon . . .

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  11. There is much in a sigh.

    Dear Mim, I'm thinking of you. Just dropping by to say so.

    Much love
    Claire xo

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