Letter from Beijing 3: How would Li Bai Write Today? 北京来信3:李白活在今天会怎样写诗?








By Chen Dongdong 陈东东


Light up an oil lamp in the rocks so they can see

the sea. Let them see

the sea and the antique fish.

See the light too,

a lamp held high on the hill.


Light up a lamp in the streams so they can see

the live fish. Let them see

the fish and the silent sea.

See the sunset as well,

a firebird flying up from the trees.


Light up all the lamps. When I block the north wind

with my hands and stand between two canyons,

I think they will all gather around me

and see I speak a language

like a lamp.




3-1 Chen DongdongChen Dongdong 陈东东, born in Shanghai in 1961, was one of the “Third Generation” in China that rose in the 1980s trying to bypass the Misty poets such as Bei Dao. They were not interested in the political lyricism that prevailed in the misty poetry as well as in the mainstream poetry, nor did they care about the dominant realistic aesthetics. Zhang Zao, Bai Hua and Chen Dongong are known today for their experiment in the 1980s when they were trying to revive the classical language. They were in the New Poetry (free verse) camp but they favored the subtleties of Chinese and the classical tone as against the plain spoken language. In the 1990s Chen Dongdong was one the “intellectual writing” poets along with Xi Chuan and Ouyang Jianghe. He currently lives in the suburb of Shenzhen, south China.

Continue to read the rest of the letter at Poetry International


About 诗东西 Poetry East West

Chinese-English bilingual magazine (will include more languages), published in Los Angeles USA, printed in Beijing China. ISSN 2159-2772

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