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Modern Poetry in China: A Visual-Verbal Dynamic By Paul Manfredi

Chapter 1:  Li Jinfa
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Modern Poetry in China:

Like blood splashed
by leaves fallen
at our feet,

Life is nothing
But a smile on the lips
Of death.

Under dying light of the moon
You drink and sing
Your shattered voice

Scattering on northward winds.

如殘葉濺
血在我們
腳上

生命便是
死神唇邊
的笑

半死的月光
載飲載歌,
裂喉的音,

隨北風散.

(Li 1987, 535)

The love object, idealized figure of the poem, is remote indeed. The poem is overwhelmed by a malevolent, smirking deity laughing people into existence. Such a sentiment also epitomizes Li’s poetry as a whole, a cathartic, relentlessly pessimistic style that earned him roughly as many detractors as readers. The most oft-cited and first poem of his first collection, “Abandoned Woman,” remains probably the best example of his work.