“To a Louse*:
On Seeing One on a Lady’s Bonnet, at Church”
Ha! whaur ye gaun, ye crowlin ferlie?
Your impudence protects you sairly;
I canna say but ye strunt rarely,
Owre gauze and lace;
Tho’, faith! I fear ye dine but sparely
On sic a place.
Ye ugly, creepin, blastit wonner,
Detested, shunn’d by saunt an’ sinner,
How daur ye set your fit upon her-
Sae fine a lady?
Gae somewhere else and seek your dinner
On some poor body.
Swith! in some beggar’s haffet squattle;
There ye may creep, and sprawl, and sprattle,
Wi’ ither kindred, jumping cattle,
In shoals and nations;
Whaur horn nor bane ne’er daur unsettle
Your thick plantations.
Now haud you there, ye’re out o’ sight,
Below the fatt’rels, snug and tight;
Na, faith ye yet! ye’ll no be right,
Till ye’ve got on it-
The verra tapmost, tow’rin height
O’ Miss’ bonnet.
My sooth! right bauld ye set your nose out,
As plump an’ grey as ony groset:
O for some rank, mercurial rozet,
Or fell, red smeddum,
I’d gie you sic a hearty dose o’t,
Wad dress your droddum.
I wad na been surpris’d to spy
You on an auld wife’s flainen toy;
Or aiblins some bit dubbie boy,
But Miss’ fine Lunardi! fye!
How daur ye do’t?
O Jeany, dinna toss your head,
An’ set your beauties a’ abread!
Ye little ken what cursed speed
The blastie’s makin:
Thae winks an’ finger-ends, I dread,
Are notice takin.
O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
An’ foolish notion:
What airs in dress an’ gait wad lea’e us,
An’ ev’n devotion!
*Louse = the singular of Lice
. . . . .
“A Bottle and Friend”
There’s nane that’s blest of human kind,
But the cheerful and the gay, man,
Fal, la, la, &c.
Here’s a bottle and an honest friend!
What wad ye wish for mair, man?
Wha kens, before his life may end,
What his share may be o’ care, man?
Then catch the moments as they fly,
And use them as ye ought, man:
Believe me, happiness is shy,
And comes not aye when sought, man.
. . .
Robert Burns (1759-1796),
was born on
this day – January 25th.
. . . . .
New Year’s Day (January 29th, 1930)
– to the tune of Ju Meng Ling
Ninghua, Chingliu, Kueihua–
What narrow paths, deep woods and slippery moss!
Whither are we bound today?
Straight to the foot of Wuyi Mountain.
To the mountain, the foot of the mountain,
Red flags stream in the wind in a blaze of glory.
* English translation from Mandarin Chinese *
I thought I wanted to say something
I looked at the snow then went back to the desk
Or perhaps I counted money or perhaps I did laundry
Crows flew in the suburbs flew by the front door
I waited quietly
like a hotpot in winter
There won’t be any more discounted plane tickets
I waited to sacrifice myself and then it was the new year
The new year’s bus
shines in the sunlight the dust shines too
the crows have no eyes
iron’s leaves the hearts inside of stones
last year the year before pale blue shoulders
slide toward the next wave
© Yan Jun
Translations: © 2010, 2011,
Ao Wang and Eleanor Goodman
Special Thanks to PIW
Yan Jun’s “new year” in these two poems
appears to be of the Western – not the
Lunar/Chinese – Calendar. But we have
posted them this Chinese New Year’s Day
(January 23rd) so as to contrast them
with Mao Zedong’s poem “New Year’s Day”.
I demand that the whole of mankind have the right to vote for
I demand an increase in birth control, the encouragement of
I demand the revision of constitutional law, deleting
I demand a ban on mahjong and KTV, the detainment of those who
I demand the abolition of art and of changing one’s life;
I demand that salt be rubbed in wounds, that wine be poisoned, that a
I demand the erection of two amps the size of buildings and the
I demand that you and I be together, never to be separated;
I demand memories, black flowers, stars that shine above bicycles
I demand the release of imprisoned words like
I demand demands, forbidden forbiddenments, annulled annulments,
I demand loud singing at the gates of hell and sleeping on the bus;
I demand that we maintain quiet . . .
Born in Lanzhou in 1973, Yan Jun is a poet who’s also
a musician, giving live “hypnotic noise” concerts.
For him, writing poetry is a political act – witness
his list of “demands” in the poem above…
© 2008, Yan Jun
Translation from Chinese: © 2011, Ao Wang and Eleanor Goodman
Special Thanks to PIW