Saturday, 4 September 2010

The Red Cockatoo by Po Chü-i

Sent as a present from Annam—

A red cockatoo.

Colored like the peach-tree blossom,

Speaking with the speech of men.

And they did to it what is always done

To the learned and eloquent.

They took a cage with stout bars

And shut it up inside.

(Translated by Arthur Waley)

Po Chü-I (also known as Bai Juyi, 722-846) was a Chinese poet and government official during the Tang dynasty. He worked within and with the government throughout his life but was also banished many times for his critical tongue. His poems often focus on political and social issues, sometimes employing a touch of humour.

Maahwish Mirza

Guest writer, student at Luton Sixth Form College

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