Poetry Sunday: “Bamboo, the Dance,” by Marilyn Chin


[From the WVFC Poetry Archive. First Published March 31, 2019]


Bamboo, the Dance         

How free and luxurious the bamboo grows, the bamboo grows and grows
Shoots and morasses, fillies and lassies and shreds and beds and rows
O phloem and pistil, nodes and ovules
…..The bamboo grows and grows
Her launch, her pleasure, her oil, her toil, her moxie, her terror, her swirl
Dig deeper into soil, deeper into her soul, what do you discover in my woman
Thrash of black hair and silken snare, face within the backside of the world
Certain by ankles, poor deer, poor sow, O delicate hooves and fascicles
…..Useless doe, useless doe, useless doe
Wrists collectively, searing pink tethers, blood draining from her soles
…..O choir, O psalm, O hovering fearsome tabernacle
The bamboo grows, the bamboo grows and grows
Via antlers and eyeholes, O candy soul, O candy, candy soul

Skinny inexperienced tails, purple entrails, the bamboo grows and grows
She flailed and wailed by flimsy veils, by bones and hissing marrow
No person to listen to her, however wind and chaff, a puff, then letting go
They liked her, then stoned her, buried her close to her ancestors
…..My mom, my sister, my soul

Shimmering mesh, a brocade sash, hanging on a distant oracle
Springboks dance on shallow mounds, echoes, echoes, echoes


Reprinted from Portrait of the Self as Nation: New and Chosen Poems, by Marilyn Chin. © 2018, 2014, 2009, 2002, 1987 by Marilyn Chin. Used with permission of the writer, W.W. Norton & Firm, Inc. All rights reserved.


Marilyn Chin was born in Hong Kong and raised in Portland, Oregon. Her books have change into Asian-American classics and are taught in school rooms internationally. She is at present celebrating the launch of her new guide, A Portrait of the Self as Nation: New and Chosen Poems (W.W. Norton 2018). Chin’s different books of poems embrace Laborious Love Province, Rhapsody in Plain Yellow, Dwarf Bamboo, and The Phoenix Gone, The Terrace Empty. Her guide of untamed woman fiction known as Revenge of The Mooncake Vixen. She has received quite a few awards, together with the Anisfield Wolf Guide Award, the USA Artist Basis Award, the Radcliffe Institute Fellowship at Harvard, the Rockefeller Basis Fellowship at Bellagio, two NEAs, the Stegner Fellowship, the PEN/Josephine Miles Award, 5 Pushcart Prizes, a Fulbright Fellowship to Taiwan, a Lannan Residency, and others. She is featured in a wide range of anthologies, together with The Norton Anthology of Literature by Ladies, The Norton Anthology of Trendy and Modern Poetry, The Penguin Anthology of twentieth Century Poetry, and The Greatest American Poetry. She was featured in Invoice Moyers’ PBS sequence The Language of Life, and Poetry In every single place, launched by Garrison Keillor. She has learn and taught workshops everywhere in the world. She was not too long ago visitor poet at universities in Beijing, Shanghai, Singapore, Hong Kong, Manchester, Sydney, Berlin, Iowa, and elsewhere. Along with writing poetry and fiction, she has translated poems by the Chinese language poets Ai Qing and Ho Xuan Huong and co-translated poems by the Japanese poet Gozo Yoshimasu. At present she is professor emerita at San Diego State College and serves as a chancellor for the Academy of American Poets. Her web site is here.


Poet’s Observe

“Bamboo, the Dance” was written for the Terezin Music Basis for the seventieth anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi focus camps. The useless doe picture comes from a folks tune within the Shijing (Guide of Odes), the oldest anthology of Chinese language poetry, courting to round 1100-600 B.C. It’s written in fugue kind to commemorate Paul Celan’s well-known “Dying Fugue.” I wrote about twenty fugue-like items and saved solely this one, for I believed that I need to publish solely essentially the most profound poem to honor the event.


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