Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tuesday poem: Coming Home by He Zhizhang




少小離家老大回, 鄉音無改鬢毛衰;
兒童相見不相識, 笑問客從何處來。


I left home young. I return old;
Speaking as then, but with hair grown thin;
And my children, meeting me, do not know me.
They smile and say: "Stranger, where do you come from?"

From "300 Poems of the Tang Dynasty"
This is a poem I quote in my play The Bone Feeder. Yesterday over lunchtime, in order to give my actor something to practise with, I recorded my Dad reading this in his native Cantonese (with my mum in the background exhorting him to read it with 'more feeling'!) It was pretty emotional to me to hear my dad reading this, as I cannot read Chinese but understand it at a basic conversational level. The play, as might be suggested by the poem, deals with the migrant experience but is based on Chinese-NZ history.

1 comment:

Mary McCallum said...

This is moving on so many levels Renee. I am moved to think of your father reading the poem in Cantonese and your mother exhorting him to read with 'more feeling'. Your post has resonances of Peter Bland's poem about a Chinese immigrant at the TP hub some weeks back

I would love to see Bone Feeder - let me know when and if it gets to Wellington again.