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Scheaffer, C. Gibson (ed.) / Wisconsin literary magazine
Volume XXVI, Number 3 (March 1927)

Chen, Kwei
My friend the bachelor,   p. 6


Page 6

MY FRIEND THE BACHELOR
By
KwEI CHEN
MY friend the bachelor,
Raving just returned from his trip around the world,
Without regret, tells me
That for him travel is preferable to the married life.
I soothe him with two stories of his Chinese comrades:
A thousand years ago,
In a hut at the edge of the West Lake
Lived a poet who, throughout his life, married not.
In his garden he planted a plum tree,
And upon a pedestal he mounted the two wings of a crane.
The former he acclaimed as his wife, and the latter his son.
Every year the Bright Clearness of the Spring found him in
rapture
Under the ample foliage of the willows by the Lake, crooning;
Early in the winter morning, after a night of heavy snow fall,
He failed not to visit the blossomy plum, his wife-
With a crooked cane and a conical hat of bamboo leaves,
Alone he stood there.
His poems he threw away as fast as they were written.
He declared, laughing:
"For fame with my contemporaries I do not care;
Should I care for fame with posterity?"
Poor was he, but the Emporer's call to office he refused.
Lonely he might be, yet for a score of years
His foot-prints had not marked the neighboring city.
By the cottage where he lived
He prepared himself a grave, in which he was buried
With a copy of his last poem in the coffin beside him.
At present in his garden every year are blossoming
Hundreds of plums hung with snowflakes,
But on the pedestal from which the crane took his flight
Only an inscription is erected.
The other comrade is my own dear, poor, mad Uncle,
Author of the "World's Unmarried Heroes,"
Still maintaining his principle,
"No marriage without Platonic love !"
He lives a very simple life,
But he inherits a thousand volumes of the best literature,
A large collection of masterpieces of painting and calligraphy,
And some urns centuries old.
He possesses gifts as a poet, a painter, and a calligrapher.
Alone or with an understanding friend,
He spends his days and evenings
In reading. criticizing, reciting, and in composing poetry
of various forms;
In painting and in cultivating the precious art of calligraphy;
In fishing and gardening on sunny days;
In walking and singing on moonlit evenings.
He is known as wise and good, but obscure and mad;
He is reverenced by every one, but helped by none!
My friend seems greatly moved by hearing these stories.
[6]


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