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The Folk of Huang Po

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

For more info on the author, visit:  http://www.hanshi.com

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