Thursday, November 27, 2008

Ping-pong poetry

Bruce Lee would have been 68 today. He is called an "icon", and in this case, I would not call that a trivialization of the word. Like James Dean, who also died too soon, he is frozen in a state of perpetual youth. I don't think many were — are — immune to his on-screen sexual magnetism. (A Bruce Lee poster has a prominent place in Tony Manero's bedroom in Saturday Night Fever, 1977.)

I vividly remember him as Kato on The Green Hornet (1966-67), but only vaguely as the blind investigator Mike Longstreet's martial arts instructor (1971-72). I was in college when I saw Enter The Dragon (1973). By then, Bruce Lee had already died.

Now, thirty-five years later, Bruce Lee "comes back to life" in a 2008 Nokia ad.

Here Nokia has done an amazing Forest Gump style blending of an archival Bruce Lee nunchaku bit into a ping-pong video fakery.

People will indeed remember his kung fu artistry and neo-Confucian philosophy, but what I want to remember today is his poetry. There are eight poems published in Artist of Life (by Bruce Lee; foreword by Linda Lee Cadwell; introduction and edited by John Little; Tuttle Publishing, 2001). Today being Thanksgiving, I would like to thank John Little for this collection.

Here are three Bruce Lee poems:

The Dying Sun

The dying sun lies sadly in the far horizon.
The autumn wind blows mercilessly;
The yellow leaves fall.
From the mountain peak,
Two streams parted unwillingly,

One to the West, one to the East.
The sun will rise again in the morning.
The leaves will be green again in spring.
But must we be like the mountain stream,
Never to meet again?

Boating on Lake Washington

I live in memory of a dream
Which has come and gone;
In solitude I sit on my boat
As it glides freely down the tranquil lake.

Across the blue sky, the swallows fly in couples;
On the still water, the Mandarin ducks swim, side by side.
Leaning on the oar I gaze at the water far away.
The sky far away, the loved one far away.

The sun goes down in flame on the far horizon,
And soon the sunset is rushing ti its height through
Every possible phase of violence and splendor.
The setting of the sun is supposedly a word of peace,
But an evening like the soft and invisible
Bonds of affection only adds distress to my heart.

Over the lake the round moon rises bright
And floods the horizon with her silver light.
I look into the water; it is as clear as the night.

When the clouds float past the moon,
I see them floating in the lake,
And I feel as though I were rowing in the sky.
Suddenly I thought of you---mirrored in my heart.

The lake sleeps in peace,
Not the faintest murmur of waves can be heard.
Lying back on the boat,
I try to conjure up the land of dream where I may seek for you.
But, alas, no dreams come.
Only a moving point of fire in the dark,
The distant light of a passing boat.

For A Moment

For a moment
The surrounding utters no sound.
Time ceases.
The paradise of dreams come true.