Saturday, 20 of January of 2018

Xu Gang – The Northern Mountain

Now there’s a mountain to remember!
Nothing pretty or magnificent
But simple as yellow loess.
The blame it has taken for ferociousness
Goes as far back as time.

I lean upon a chaotic heap of stones.
My heart is so close to them
That it feels their warmth.
No words here, just an expanse of waving grass
Blown by winds from the empty valley.
I have picked out a fragment that history lost.

This, the Northern Mountain, once had
Splendid peaks and ridges too sublime for words.
Flowers, trees, and songbirds used to thrive there;
So did a clear spring that people said was holy.
Incense smoke curled up inside a Buddhist temple.

The forest has plenty of axes and clubs,
The loggers’ rudeness enshrouds the mountain.
Tall trees and short ones
Fall down one after another.
Having lost this protective screen,
The low grass and the wellspring
Die away in grief.

Why not chase away the axes and clubs?
Since ancient times, we have found it hardest
to deprive ourselves of cutting tools
And reasons for cutting.
“When there shall be no more tree cutting”–
That is the green fantasy of the deserted mountain,
A dream so long and simple…

Xu Gang
Translated by Dennis Ding and Edward Morin
September 1992 Earth First!

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