Also Reading: THREE THOUSAND YEARS OF CHINESE POETRY, co-edited by Wu-Chi Liu and Irving Yucheng Lo

A poem by T’ao Ch’ien (365 – 427), also known as T’ao Yuan-ming. He was born near modern Kiangsi.

On Returning to My Garden and Field

When I was young, I did not fit into the common mold,
By instinct, I love mountains and hills.
By error, I fell into this dusty net
And was gone from home for thirteen years.
A caged bird yearns for its native woods;
The fish in a pond recalls old mountain pool.
Now I shall clear the land at the edge of the southern wild,
And, clinging to simplicity, return to garden and field.
My house and land on a two-acre lot,
My thatched hut of eight or nine rooms —
Elms and willows shade the eaves back of the house,
Peach and plum trees stand in a row before the hall.
Lost in a haze is the distant village,
Where smoke hovers above the homes.
Dogs bark somewhere in deep lanes,
Cocks crow atop the mulberry trees.
My home is free from dust and care,
In a bare room there is leisure to spare.
Long a prisoner in a cage,
I am now able to come back to nature.

About the poet:  T’ao’s father was a district official, but during his youth the family fortunes declined and, after several frustrating attempts to secure an appointment, he gave up all worldly ambitions and spent the remaining years of his life as a gentleman farmer.

Beginning DIVERGENT, by Veronica Roth

Must say, some of The Hunger Games fanfiction is extremely, extremely well written.  Self’s read a lot of them, over the past few weeks.

The only ones she hates are the ones where Peeta dies.  Ugh.

Self is SO into that world of dystopian fiction now.

It’s somehow so very Camus.  But speculative.

With the added bonus of being about Girl Power.

Self bought a copy of Divergent last weekend (because she also happens to like Shailene Woodley) and began to read.  And the opening pages are of — Katniss and her mom???

Seriously, here’s a passage from the opening page of Divergent, and you tell me whether it doesn’t strike you as being soooo very District 12:

When she finishes, she pulls my hair away from my face and twists it into a knot.  I note how calm she looks and how focused she is.  She is well-practiced in the art of losing herself.  I can’t say the same of myself.

I sneak a look at my reflection when she isn’t paying attention — not for the sake of vanity, but out of curiosity.  A lot can happen to a person’s appearance in three months.  In my reflection, I see a narrow face, wide, round eyes, and a long, thin nose — I still look like a little girl, though sometime in the last few months I turned sixteen.  The other factions celebrate birthdays, but we don’t.  It would be self-indulgent.

It’s the day of the big Reaping — er, no, CHOOSING!  Of course, self meant Choosing.  It’s the  ceremony during which our heroine will “decide on a faction.”  But, “the tests don’t have to change our choices,” she tells her mother.  Right!  Doesn’t that sound almost Peeta-ish?

A little further on, our heroine describes how her mother is beautiful, “but she must hide that beauty in Abnegation.”

Self finds that sentence (unintentionally) hilarious.  Surely, Roth wasn’t intending it to be taken ironically?

Seriously, that word.  Abnegation.

Self clearly remembers a time when a fellow writer at a literary conference told her:  “If you haven’t made it by now, you’ll never make it.”

BWAH. HA. HA. HAAAA!  Is that because self was so self-abnegating? Probably!

P. S.  There must be something about that age — sixteen — that appeals to YA writers and their readers.  She wonders if this novel will end up having a love triangle.  Although she doesn’t really consider The Hunger Games a love triangle because Gale to Katniss is just a lip-lock buddy.  Not the love of her life.  Clearly.  Come ON.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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