October 30, 2007 at 7:16 pm 3 comments

Xu Zhimo

Listen (to Clara read the original – Cantonese)

Listen (to Clara read her translation – English)



Tr. by Clara Hsu

I am a cloud in the sky,
by chance it casts a shadow in your heart.
Don’t be surprised,
or happy,
in an instant it all vanishes.

We meet at sea, in the night,
traveling in different directions.
You may recall,
but perhaps it is better to forget
the glow when we cross paths.


The long promised Xu Zhimo is finally here!

Clara, our new guest contributor, is a mother, a musician, a philanthropist, an activist, a purveyor of Clarion Music Center (a world music shop of exotic musical instruments), a traveler, host of the Poetry Hotel and ultimately, a poet.

When Mjbesq put us in touch, she was in Marrakech, on her way to a couple of days in a desert. After a couple of months, of diligently tagging by email, we finally met and she recorded a couple of poems for me. Here is the first – Clara reads Chance by Xu Zhimo and her translation of the same.

Clara writes,

Xu Zhimo (1897 – 1931) is one of China’s most distinguished 20th Century poets. Xu brings raw emotions into his poetry to express human love and yearns for its eternity. His poems are revolutionary coming out of a culture that encourages conformity and suppresses individual’s innermost feelings. This short poem, however, is more in tune with classical Chinese poetry in its simplicity and philosophical outlook.



Entry filed under: Black Mamba, Chinese, Clara, Clara Hsu, English, Xu Zhimo.

To a young poet The Flashlights of Innocence

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Equivocal  |  October 31, 2007 at 5:47 am

    Fantastic. Thanks for this, and cant wait for the next. Am I right in assuming that the lines have been kept more or less equivalent in the translation? I listened to the Chinese while simultaneously reading the English translation, and it seemed to work.

  • 2. blackmamba  |  October 31, 2007 at 9:29 pm


    I would love to find out as well, but hadn’t asked. So, you will have to wait a bit for the answer.

    And, the other two I have aren’t Clara’s translations, but poems by other SF poets she likes. Will try to get more of her translations here, over time.

  • 3. Clara Hsu  |  November 1, 2007 at 5:10 am

    Xu Zhimo was one of the first Chinese poets who wrote in the vernacular. He also spent time in Cambridge University and spoke English fluently. I think those were the reasons why I was able to translate his poems and keep the lines more or less the same.


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