For the first time, Xi Xi had one of her poems published in the 20th issue of Everyman’s Literature.

During junior high school, Xi Xi started to contribute to newspapers and magazines, both because she liked to write, and she could use the manuscript fee for pocket money. Xi Xi participated in the “Hok Yau” (i.e. Schoolmate) essay competition in the third grade, and won the first prize in the senior category. In 1958, she won the first place in the “Youth Paradise” essay competition.

Her earliest work, a sonnet, was published in the No. 20 of Everyman’s Literature in 1953. The magazine was edited by then prominent right-wing poets whose works had seen the influence from English Romantic poetry in the 19th century and the New Crescent school in the late 1920s China. With consistent ABCB rhyming pattern of four-line stanzas, their sentimental poems often lamented the loss of their motherland and expressed the sadness of being exiled and taking refuge. It has been reported that the editors of this magazine had edited some of the submitted poems into the style they preferred. Xi Xi’s “On the Lake” was published originally in Chinese in this particular style, but the translation removes the rhyme and is made less sentimental for the sake of convenient reading. The poem is reproduced below for the first time in many years. In addition, we are publishing the poem in translation for the first time.

'On the Lake'

in hazy moonlight, boating on the lake
a sad song rings in our ears
oars rhythmically hit the lake water
flower scent from the shores

through water grass, through footbridges
can we row back hometown?
the scent of soil back home remembered
in spring the golden sun on the vast field

who forced us to leave our home?
exiled to this island, three lonely years
when can we see Qiantang River’s tide again,
back to West Lake under the bright moon and a few stars?

water currents should know our yearning
and when can we row back home?

by Xi Xi,
Translated by Chris Song.

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Xi Xi’s Poetry

The book cover of Selected Poems of Xi Xi (2019).

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