Collected Shorter Poems, 1966-1996

By John Peck | Go to book overview

NOTES

The Spring Festival on the River This Vietnam-era poem borrows its title from the venerable Chinese vernal celebration of Ch’ing-ming or Clear-Bright, which is also pictured in the medieval scroll which I render in ‘Colophon for Ch’ing-ming Shang-ho T’u’. The attack remembered here is the one on Chungking by Japan in 1937.

In The Broken Blockhouse Wall, ‘Lucien’, ‘Refinding the Seam’, Am Abend…’, ‘Bounds’, and ‘To the Allegheny’ are set in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania region. ‘Ground Observer Corps’ is set north of there in Cambridge Springs.

Cussewago names a creek in northwestern Pennsylvania.

Let Us Call This the Hill of Sotatsu honors a Japanese painter, and is a close cousin to section four of ‘March Elegies’, both from the Vietnam era.

In Poems and Translations of Hĭ-, besides Zurich and its districts such as Hottingen and the Adlisberg, several place names are also Swiss: the Val Verzasca in Canton Ticino, the Val Ferret in Canton Valais, the Grisons Mountains, Herrliberg and Rapperswil in Kanton Zurich, Baden, Sankt Gallen, the Isle of Ufenau in Lake Zurich, and Einsiedeln in Kanton Schwyz, birthplace of Paracelsus and site of a prominent shrine to the Black Madonna. I am indebted to the late Franz Jung for the finder’s technique in Fifteen stars…, and to the late Mary Briner for the glimpse of Furtwāngler in ‘A Gross of Poems….’

Four Ancient Poems The third incorporates bits from Ch’en Lin, Ts’ao P’i, and perhaps Cai Yong. The first line returns in ‘A Gross of Poems….’

Ditty for Mayor Fu of Freiburg im Breisgau This city was ‘exempt’ from air raids until 27 November 1944. The Philosopher Paul Shih-yi Hsiao reflects on the behavior of the monitory duck, memorialized in bronze by the lake, in an essay which discusses his collaboration with Martin Heidegger on the translation of Lao Tzu. Heidegger’s version of two lines from chapter fifteen of the Tao Te Ching, based on Professor Shih-yi Hsiao’s rendering, underlies the last stanza here.

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