cold mountain (17) (18)

unfortunate building timber
gets left in a hidden valley

Bamboo feathers and pine bayonets gaurd the seam of the valley. Someone’s built a small gods’ shrine over the spring, and hikers in floroescent, multi-colored synthetics leave dippers full of water on the surrounding rocks: placating offerings. Disaster never looms, but seems to hover, like starlight glimpsed from the corner of the eye, just short of definitive substance and impossible to deny. Against such disaster the hikers fill plastic dippers and position them around the water shooting out of a clear plastic hose, rubbing their hands in supplication as if shaping balls of dough. They pray to the old and unseen gods for the two-fold blessing: the prosperity and success of kith and kin, and their safe obscurity from the demolitions of the highest reaches. Who hasn’t seen it happen? Power without humility, position without merit, and the resulting fall. All we want is to live comfortable, hundreds of lips mouth by the spring each season. As if each were a spurned worthy, unlucky only by birth, as if the world were not inherently uncaring, as if loss and ruin were not the partners of gain and increase.

but what I lament are the common bones
unnamed in the records of immortals

Immolate, from in, “upon,” and mole, “to sprinkle,” as in, to sprinkle with sacrificial meal. Self-immolation as self-anointment, to place a martyr’s crown on a common head and turns one’s flesh and bones to banners recording what others would not write.

Since February 2011, roughly 20 Tibetans have self-immolated in protest against the Chinese government and Chinese rule in the Tibetan Autonomous region. For more information, please see the International Campaign to Save Tibet’s fact sheet. An internet search turns up a variety of news articles and blog posts.

For the text of the Chinese poems and their English translations, please see pp. 46-49. The internet’s been spotty, I’ve been busy: hopefully when both situations calm down I can go back to writing out the Chinese.


2 comments on “cold mountain (17) (18)

  1. Kevin Kim says:

    “Chinese rule in the Tibetan Autonomous region”

    What a painfully self-contradictory phrase, and what a painful situation for Tibetans and those who sympathize with them. Personally, I agree with Master Shin Go Seong (at Hanguk-sa in Germantown, MD): the Dalai Lama should have stayed in Tibet. I’m not too happy with His Holiness, either: it’s not as though the entire population of Tibet could have fled with him to Dharamsala, and I don’t think he helped matters by essentially letting Tibet suffer under Chinese tyranny (HHDL has made statements, consistent with a certain notion of “nonattachment,” to the effect that he has no intention of campaigning to free Tibet from China: he instead advocates a so-called “middle-way” approach that effectively leaves Tibetans under China’s thumb).

    • seon joon says:

      I honestly don’t know what to make of the Tibetan situation. Sure, it’s horrible: human rights’ violations, loss of “traditional” culture, etc. I don’t know if the Dalai Lama should have stayed or should have gone; and I don’t pay a lot of attention to what His Holiness says on international and public policy. I know I’m running the risk of sounding callous and ill-informed (only the latter is true), but I’m struggling to reconcile myself to the seeming futility and violence of the self-immolations with the obviously acute sense of suffering and frustration that underlies such an action. Do I sympathize with that, at least? Yes. But as to the rest, and what can be done, I truly do not know.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s