You’re the One That I Wish For

Beijing (English) - - POEM - Trans­lated by Feng Tiejun Edited by David Ball

The weeds grow over a vast ex­panse and glis­ten with dew­drops. A beau­ti­ful lady with a pair of bright eyes is walk­ing on a path. We hap­pen to meet each other and that’s just what I have dreamed of.

The weeds grow over a vast ex­panse with big, round dew­drops on them. A beau­ti­ful lady with a pair of bright eyes is walk­ing on a path. We hap­pen to meet each other and both of us feel happy.”

The poem “Weeds in the Wild” ap­pears in the Odes of Zheng chap­ter of the Book of Songs. It de­picts a scene in the coun­try­side, where trees and weeds are thriv­ing and the tips of the weeds glis­ten with crys­tal­like dew­drops. On a quiet, sunny morn­ing, a beau­ti­ful lady is walk­ing slowly past a man. Her eyes are full of ten­der­ness and her beauty makes his heart beat faster. He stops to look at her, falls in love at first sight and wants to go with her.

About 2,500 years later, it is still pos­si­ble to feel the po­etic ro­mance of an­cient love when read­ing “Weeds in the Wild.”

The eyes are the win­dows to the soul and can give away all of a person’s se­crets. There is a well-known verse in “Shuo Ren” in the Book of Songs, which reads, “The smile on a beau­ti­ful face is pleas­ing to see and beau­ti­ful eyes never fail to at­tract oth­ers.”

Such be­witch­ing eyes are not only de­scribed in the Book of Songs but also in other fa­mous works. Love in a Mask, a novella by Honoré de Balzac, is a per­fect ex­am­ple. Elena was a young and beau­ti­ful woman who wanted to have a child but not only didn’t want to get mar­ried, she didn’t even want her child to know who his fa­ther was. There­fore, she de­vised a plan to meet Leon, a mil­i­tary of­fi­cer, at a masked ball. She al­ways wore a mask when she was with him and after be­com­ing preg­nant, she left him. How­ever, Leon had fallen in love with her and tried to track her down. In fact, Elena could not for­get her lover. They with­stood the test of life and death dur­ing wartime and even­tu­ally got mar­ried.

“I want you to know that there is al­ways a person wait­ing for you in this world, no mat­ter when and where. You must be aware that there is al­ways such a person,” Eileen Chang (1920–1995) wrote in Half a Life­long Ro­mance. Ev­ery­one is wait­ing for an­other person, if they can meet a pair of beau­ti­ful eyes then they can con­sider them­selves for­tu­nate. How­ever, Cui Hu (AD 772–846) could only sigh, as he wrote, “I do know where she has gone and the peach blossoms still tit­ter in the spring breeze.”

On read­ing “Weeds in the Wild,” one feels as if they are see­ing the weeds thrive, which gives a sense of des­o­la­tion and great­ness. At this mo­ment, the man hopes to not only meet a beau­ti­ful woman, but also a con­fi­dant who can un­der­stand him with­out him hav­ing to say too much.

When Yu Boya (413–354 BC) and Zhong Ziqi (387–299 BC) met, the two be­came close con­fi­dants of each other. After Zhong died of an ill­ness, Yu smashed his guqin (a sev­en­stringed plucked mu­si­cal in­stru­ment sim­i­lar to a zither) and no longer played his in­stru­ment be­cause he felt he would never meet any­one like Zhong again. Meet­ing a true friend has al­ways been an im­por­tant topic in the his­tory of Chi­nese poetry.

In “Weeds in the Wild,” the man is stand­ing alone amid a fresh mist. From the glint in his eyes, we know that “she” is what he wishes for most in this life.

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