Poet to Poet (stories behind poems)

I have always been fascinated by Sylvia Plath’s poems. They leave me with mysterious haunting images, and I wondered what kind of life she had. I was sad to read about her tragic suicide. I recognized that those evocative images came from her tangled mind. In that era, life became extremely difficult for her to deal with. Reality was like a rusted and dull cage, yet her mind were like stormy oceans. In a film based on her life, there was a scene where she stood alone beside the ebbing ocean.  I keep reflecting on it and have a strong impression that she wanted to join the ebb tide. Last year, when Wilda Morris (a USA poet) asked for submissions for a persona poem from the perspective of someone in history, I immediately thought of Plath and wrote this poem. (It won wildamorris.blogspot poetry challenge for 2010 Feb.)

–empathy for Sylvia Plath

I cut an echoless love
in pale moonlight.

Ashes of stars slip
from my face.

You remain in a secret garden.
My shadow clings to the splitting wall.

The taste of blood edges
up my bleeding fingers.

Water rises on a lake
and the moon drowns.

Two years ago I read Hughes’ “Full Moon and Little Frieda”. I was impressed by the shy artist that Hughes created by his words. The image of the moon lingered in my head and I fell in love with it. I began to compose my poem and wished to bring dead poets back, like recalling the moon. I wrote this poem to remember Hughes and Li Po.  I heard that Li Po loved the moon so much that when he was old, one night when he had been drinking on a boat, seeing the reflection of the moon, he reached out to embrace it, and fell into the river.  People said it was a happy death for him. (This poem won the 2010 Poem-A-Day contest in public libraries of Cambridge, Ontario)

After Reading Ted Hughes’ “Full Moon and Little Frieda”

I fall in love with you, Moon,
seeing you step back like a timid artist.
Listening to the night,
you come out, a pail lifted.

Moon, they are gone.
They left you watching over the river.
How many years since?
And you watch the small village
becoming a floating island.

Among rows of windows,
the night flows, and I’m wide awake.
How much I want to imitate Li Po,
dancing with his white sleeves,
a humming from his burning heart ,
night after night inviting you for a drink!
The wine never drained,
yet he drowned in the silver river.

Moon, lift your bucket,
come out once more.
I won’t make a sound.

 I know these two poems are in very different styles. Reid and other poets said I had a very dynamic style and authentic voice. Sometimes I just write and have no idea who I write like. But Reid and Terry told me, “You are far more like Emily Dickinson than you are like Sylvia Plath”

More stories: My book launch show file

CBC Radio interview (2011)    /  CBC Radio One interview (2005)

Story Behind “online: i found true love!”

Poetry Saved Me!  /Poets to Poets