march 30 2003
beijing, ulaanbaatar

Someone I knew around 1993, on the Great Wall. Snow started to fall a few minutes later.

just stone
in such amount
built into a supple
turning along ridge
_________into valley
moving with the shadow
of cloud hurled
_________along its flank.

i’m almost taken in
by this unintended beauty
stone shimmer peak to peak
brute insistence
there are no enemies
within no gates to
_________open inwards.

these cut blocks of stone
the chain of suffering
holding past
to present

stories of these
stone blocks
falling in tears**
before a woman’s
song for her man
lost beneath them
left these blocks
unmoved centuries
scratches on stone
cries that guttered out
in summer rains

froze like spit
on the sword
of october winds

cloud coming over
the wall
our fear begging for
a greater wall
the blown flakes
of snow
lingering under
the skin of
your face
the cold buried
i am blind
as this wall.

Copyright ©2022 Peter Le Baige.  All Rights Reserved

*the ‘Great Wall’

** Legend has it that during the reign of the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty, Meng Jiangnu, whose husband had been conscripted to work on the Great Wall, set out to find him; it had been 3 years since he’d left and no word of him had ever come. After much hardship she arrived at the site of the wall at Shanhaiguan Pass. When told he had died from the hardship of his labour, and that his remains were buried under the Great Wall, she wept in grief. As her tears fell 800 ‘Li’ (400 kilometers) of the wall collapsed, and among the bones revealed she found her husband’s remains. I have read elsewhere, in fact, that no human remains have ever been found in the Wall’s masonry.

Click on the link above to hear a reading of the poem.  The accompanying music is from the quqin melody ‘Fan Canglang’ (泛滄浪) (a suggested translation is ‘floating on the Canglang river’) attributed to the 13th century Chinese qin player, Guo Chuwang; the melody is interpreted here by Ye, Lijia,  An in-depth discussion of the piece can be found at:

4 thoughts on “wall”

  1. like this :

    our fear begging for/a greater wall/the blown flakes/of snow/lingering under/the skin of/your face


  2. Morena Peter

    Delighted to catch up with you yesterday and hear you read in person

    All the best

    Piers Davies


    1. Hi Pier, very much enjoyed the event & guest reader. Looking forward to being there for the next meet-up; Mark McIvor has been trying to get me to come along a while now. Regards!


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