At the Sky's Edge: Poems, 1991-1996

Overview

At the Sky's Edge combines in a single bilingual paperback volume two essential works by one of the world's finest contemporary poets. In his first retrospective volume of poetry in English, two of Bei Dao's previous books—Forms of Distance (1994) and Landscape Over Zero (1996)—are gathered together in one bilingual paperback edition. At The Sky's Edge: Poems 1991-1996 marks a pivotal point in the poet's oeuvre, presenting the increasingly lyrical, meditative poems written in the years following his banishment ...
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Overview

At the Sky's Edge combines in a single bilingual paperback volume two essential works by one of the world's finest contemporary poets. In his first retrospective volume of poetry in English, two of Bei Dao's previous books—Forms of Distance (1994) and Landscape Over Zero (1996)—are gathered together in one bilingual paperback edition. At The Sky's Edge: Poems 1991-1996 marks a pivotal point in the poet's oeuvre, presenting the increasingly lyrical, meditative poems written in the years following his banishment from China in 1989. Translated into twenty-five languages, Bei Dao's work has long been appreciated internationally, but is just recently gaining a larger audience in the US. At The Sky's Edge becomes Bei Dao's seventh book published by New Directions and is the first time Forms of Distance appears in a paperback edition. The translations of David Hinton, who was awarded the prestigious Harold Morton Landon Translation Award from The Academy of American Poets in 1997, capture both the musicality and density of the original Chinese. Quiet, spare, these are poems of paradox and possibility, of words carefully balanced, of a world on edge.

Author Biography: Bei Dao's most recent books are Unlock (New Directions), and a collection of essays, Blue House (Zephyr Press).

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Editorial Reviews

Nate Johnson
The poems [in Forms of Distance] are distinctly alive. ... In any language, this is poetry of a high order. —Chicago Tribune
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780811214957
  • Publisher: New Directions Publishing Corporation
  • Publication date: 9/28/2001
  • Edition description: Bilingual
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 1,423,506
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Read an Excerpt



Chapter One


    YEAR'S END


from the year's beginning to its end
I've walked through countless years
time bending as a bow
shoes of those who've retired scattered
dust of the private
litter of the public
it's been a perfectly normal year
my sledgehammer sits idle, and yet
borrowing the light of the future
I glimpse that metric standard in platinum
here on the anvil


    ABSENT


vast winds commanding hostile flags
Venus fills all four directions with its lone cry
love and hate bit into the same apple
and now it's the age for climbing ladders
it's the pipe-dream of national renaissance
heroes occupying night skies raise their arms high
clowns in a mirror doing bandstands on asphalt
I close the door parole proffers
refuse all those witnesses to the future
these moments are mine to savor dignity in solitude
fire of the venture
ash of the unfamiliar


    BRASS OF A SUMMER'S DAY


lone son born of rumor
sits atop flower wreaths of contraception:
hearing brass of a summer's day
soldiers on the march
come along streets of rust:
watching brass of a summer's day
deep ax cuts on trees
smile fascinated forever:
eating brass of a summer's day


    MIDNIGHTSINGER


a song
is a thief who's fled across rooftops
getting away with six colors
and leaving the red hour-hand
on 4 o'clock heaven
4 o'clock detonates
in the rooster's head
and it's 4 o'clock delirium
a song
is an ever hostile tree
beyond the border
it unleashes that promise
that wolf-pack feeding on tomorrow
a song
is a mirror that knows the body by heart
is the emperor of memory
is the flame spoken by
waxen tongues
is the flower garden nurtured by myth
is a steam locomotive
bursting into the church
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Table of Contents

Foreword
Year's End 3
Absent 5
Brass of a Summer's Day 7
Midnight Singer 9
Advertising 11
Autumn World in Turmoil 13
Beyond 15
For T. Transformer 17
Corridor 19
Afternoon Notes 21
Playwright 23
Lament 25
Apple and Brute Stone 27
Empty City 29
Bridge 31
Exit 31
A State of War 33
Untitled 35
Eastern Traveler 37
Forlorn 39
Night Patrol 41
Toxin 43
Records 45
At the Sky's Edge 47
Other than Tomorrow 49
Awakening 51
Sower 53
Farewell Words 55
Landscape 57
A New Century 59
Asking the Sky 61
Headlong Night 63
Allegiance 65
Untitled 67
Andante 69
Folding Procedure 73
Encounter 75
Flash 77
A Guide to Summer 79
Musical Variations 81
A Portrait 83
Pastoral 85
On Eternity 87
Translator's Note 89
Arrival 93
Another 95
Blue Wall 97
Creation 99
Perfect 101
Background 103
Untitled 105
This Day 107
February 109
Progress 111
we 113
Showing Up 115
On the Wrong Road 117
Bright Mirror 119
Morning 121
Untitled 123
Novice 125
Seeing Double 127
Realm 129
A Far as I Know 131
Theme 135
Nightwatch 137
Untitled 139
Untitled 141
Night 143
Purple 145
A Day in the Mountains 147
Untitled 149
Old Places 151
Outsider 153
The Next Tree 155
For the Purpose of 157
Untitled 159
Insomnia 161
Landscape Over Zero 163
Story 165
Asymmetry 167
Wax 169
Keyword 171
Untitled 173
The Long View 175
Borders 177
Borrowing a Direct
New Year 181
Untitled 183
Winter Travels 185
deny 187
Rest 189
Work 191
Journey 193
Index of titles and first lines in English 194
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