The Ghost of Poetry

In 1968, Roger Waters of the rock band Pink Floyd borrowed lines from the poetry of Li Ho as lyrics for the song “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun” from the band’s second album A Saucerful of Secrets. Li Ho died at 26. His mother said, “This boy will spit out his heart.” One of the “crazy poets” of the T’ang era, his poetry avoided the traditional Chinese metaphors, opting for lines which jumped from his tongue. More of his poems are here. For a good article on T’ang poetry, Li Ho, and others, see Eliot Weinberger’s article here.

The Southern hills, how mournful!

A ghostly rain sprinkles the empty grass.

In Ch’ang-an, on an autumn midnight,

How many men grow old before the wind?

Dim, dim, the path in the twilight,

Branches curl on the black oaks by the road.

The trees cast upright shadows and the moon at the zenith

Covers the hills with a white dawn.

Darkened torches welcome a new kinsman:

In the most secret tomb these fireflies swarm.

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2 Comments on “The Ghost of Poetry”

  1. roy hamric says:

    David,
    There’s one book about Li Ho on Amazon and it sells for $195, not sure why. See the article linked by Weinberger; it’s very good on the general period, crazy poets, traditional poets, etc. One of the best books on the T’ang is by A.C. Graham, who wrote extensively on Taoism.

  2. david warren says:

    Great poem are there any books?


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