Author's Note Chen Hsi-wei is an imaginary poet/peasant of the Sui Dynasty. To mark the publication of Hsi-wei Tales, which comprises Hsi-wei’s verses and the stories behind them, I am offering this Hsi-wei poem written posthumously, so to speak; that is, after the book was done. Hsi-wei Tales has gracious and generous blurbs provided by friends including V-V’ers Michael Newell and Bob Knox. As with the all of Hsi-wei’s poems, there’s a story behind this one.
Hsi-Wei In the Gardens of Shun
I passed through Shun last year in the
month of blossoms when new leaves made
the katsura branches look like mist.
The Duke’s Second Minister entertained me.
We talked through the night and the next day
he showed me the palace’s renowned gardens.
The learned Minister, my host, spoke of
the Orchid Pavilion Gathering and asked if
I had ever seen the calligraphy of Wang Xizhi.
Behind the peonies stood a small pagoda,
an elegant thing, feminine and blue.
There the noblewomen of Shun stood together
swaying silkenly, like willows, shy as foals.
I found it hard not to look at them.
With a bitter smile, the Minister remarked
that, as Shun’s ladies spoke only in demure
whispers, one would have to draw quite
near to hear their slanderous gossip.
©2020 Robert Wexelblatt
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