Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Smashed Clay

One of my greatest joy in marriage is to have a husband who does not mind my weirdness (too much). When we were dating, I refused to call him my "boyfriend" because I did not want to sound like I was in high school. Calling him my "partner" did not sound right either, due to contextual associations. So, he suffered being called my "gentleman-friend" for the two-years we were dating.

The things he had to put up with!


The year we got engaged, I took a class on the woman writers of ancient China. We were required to study many of the works by writers who were concubines, courtesans, as well as wives who had to share their husband or lover with other women.

Now, I am a reasonable person. I have no fear that Hans would do anything of that sort, like taking more than one wife, but I took great pleasure in warning him that I will not tolerate such behavior. I am all the woman he can handle, after all. And I read this story to him:

(the first copy of this is dated around the 1600s, though legend has it that this was first written much earlier)


One day, Zhao Mengfu said this to his wife Lady Guan:

I am a Secretary,
You are a lady.
You must have heard that
Secretary Tao has his Peach Leaf and Peach Root,
Secretary Su had his Morning Cloud and Evening Cloud,
Now if I could obtain a few
Maidens of Wu and beauties of Yue, it would befit my position.
you are already over forty years of age,
Yet in this jade hall you still want to monopolize Spring!

Lady Guan replied with the following poem:

You and I
Share an ardent passion.
When passion is ardent,
It burns like fire.
Take one lump of clay
Knead one you,
Sculpt one me.
Smash them both into pieces,
Mix them with water,
Knead another you,
Sculpt another me:
In my clay there is you,
In your clay there is me.
In life you and I share a single coverlet,
In death a single grave!

I still read this to him once in a while. And I take great pleasure in emphasizing the fire, the smashing, death, and the grave. The things he has to put up with!

2 comments:

serene555 said...

haha... i thoroughly enjoyed reading that poem. the 'smashing' bit sounds somewhat violent, but she gets her point across effectively. "In my clay there is you, In your clay there is me"... so melodramatic but I like it! Can draw so many other allusions from that, like the pain or uncomfortableness of the smashing etc. which is just all part of the process of joining two becoming one.

YeeLing said...

hahahahaha you weirdo jieji :P :P