Chinese Poems - Hangzhou

I teach English at a university in Hangzhou, China. Hangzhou has been home to some of China's most famous poets - Su Shi (aka Su Dongpo -1037 – 1101) and Bai Juyi (772–846), One of the things I ask my students to do is to write poetry. I want them to connect with this historical tradition. You can find their poetry here: China Poetry I also write a poem because I do not ask my students to do anything I cannot do myself. The job was to write FREE VERSE



Su Shi poet



This is my 2019 effort


Around West Lake in April


Around West Lake in April

The year of the virus

I gloried in the spring greens of the maple


The sun bouncing off the water brighter

My eyes distracted by the splintered diamonds

As I caught the sound of distant laughter


Couples warming in the sunshine

Reminded me of my youth

And the lovers who were once mine.


The distant misty mountains drew my eye

And I wondered of the sage’s past

And I heard their voices in the soft winds sigh


Ah Hangzhou is it a dream?

Do the poets still call to us?

Their rhymes carried in the silver streams?


West Lake echoes with the ancient songs

The verses and chants of woe and love

Whisper though the willow fronds


I listened carefully all day long

And let the ringing water teach me

Until, at last, West Lake could hear my song.


And My 2020 poem


January 2021 - China

In the haze of a chilly Chinese Morning

I remember the temples and markets of Chiang Mai

The warmth of the Thai sun shining on my face

Then, January 2020

Back in Hangzhou

The spectre of a virus hangs in the air

Can we buy masks?

Can we buy food?

We close our doors firmly

As we are taken to task

Late March, we walk in the warm spring sun

West Lake is green and fragrant

The terror is receding

And yet, 2020 is not finished with me

Screen to screen

I speak to my mother for the last time

She leaves us in July

And, as in Thailand

I make my way to the Temples to seek solace

2021 peeks over the horizon

Will the world be a better place?

I light incense and watch the smoke curl

Into the blue haze of the afternoon

Watching my prayer drift on,

Into the sky

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