I wrote this poem in November of 1967 as part of my mindset regarding the Vietnam debacle. This is among a number of pieces I composed to foment a higher consciousness as an opposition to war. The people of Huang Po are fictitious, but the implication is just.
THE FOLK OF HUANG PO
In the mountain of the valley of Huang Po
I see velvet clouds caress the sky.
The tall grass is ever straight and green;
the birds that fly seem to go to the sea.
The entire smallness of it all
when we fight each other for a lesser thing
than that which could be gained for more.
Look not to the South if you are of the North;
be not of the West if you be of the East.
In Huang Po the sun reflects off the mountain
and shines into the valley heart.
In Huang Po valley people dance and sing.
The mountain tells them they may be besieged.
The mountain people say, “We must prepare to
deal with the valley folk who undermine
the bee which flies to suckle honey
and tells the flower of its need.”
The flower tells the bee to suck its life.
This above all must be seen to be believed
and the turtle who moves not fast is soon bereaved
in a quest which is seen and known,
driving a soul to a madness of flowers.
Obsessed with ruling, oppressors desire to play.
The folk of Huang Po do not understand this game;
they are simple folk and know not much of it.
The generals say leave them to themselves.
“Did you Honorable Sire, see the birds go north?”
But soon the snows will melt on the peaks;
the flood waters will bring mountain soil to the valley.
The valley flowers will germinate the mountain soil,
and cleansing the spirit with a new dawn,
the waters will always flood in springtime.
I think I will observe the trees
and perhaps wait for the birds again.
© Stephen F. Kaufman 1967
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