Monday, February 25, 2013


Wish for a Baby Boy

Su Tung-p'o (1037-1101), "On the Birth of His Son," tr. Arthur Waley in A Hundred and Seventy Chinese Poems (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1919), p. 151:
Families, when a child is born
Want it to be intelligent.
I, through intelligence,
Having wrecked my whole life,
Only hope the baby will prove
Ignorant and stupid.
Then he will crown a tranquil life
By becoming a Cabinet Minister.
The same, tr. Kenneth Rexroth in One Hundred Poems from the Chinese (New York: New Directions, 1971), p. 84:
Everybody wants an intelligent son.
My intelligence only got me into difficulties.
I want only a brave and simple boy,
Who, without trouble or resistance,
Will rise to the highest offices.

From Andy Lowry:
Just wanted to share an echo in Sylvia Plath's little radio play, "Three Women." A mother meditates on her son:
I do not will him to be exceptional.
It is the exception that interests the devil.
It is the exception that climbs the sorrowful hill
Or sits in the desert and hurts his mother's heart.

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