Diary of the Plague Year: Day 80 3 June 2020: Quotidian Poetry: FROM The Book of Songs China (c. 600 BC)


Tossed is that cypress boat,
Wave-tossed it floats.
My heart is in turmoil. I cannot sleep.
But secret is my grief.
Wine I have, all things needful
For play, for sport.

My heart is not a mirror,
To reflect what others will.
Brothers too I have;
I cannot be snatched away.
But lo, when I told them of my plight
I found that they were angry with me.

My heart is not a stone;
It cannot be rolled.
My heart is not a mat;
It cannot be folded away.
I have borne myself correctly
In rites more than can be numbered.

My sad heart is consumed. I am harassed
By a host of small men.
I have borne vexations very many,
Received insults not a few.
In the still of night I brood upon it;
In the waking hours I rend my breast.

O sun, ah, moon
Why are you changed and dim?
Sorrow clings to me
Like an unwashed dress.
In the still of night I brood upon it,
Long to take wing and fly away.


The Airs of Bei 26-44

The Ancient Chinese Classic of Poetry
Translated by Arthur Waley

Grove Press

Diary of the Plague Year: Day 80 3 June 2020: A North wind

After a week of heatwave, a riotous North wind has arrived. It is rampaging through the garden and luckily I staked the new Delphinium I bought yesterday. The wind turns the leaves on the trees and they shine with a silvery light in the sun. The last time we had a North wind like this was last March when all the leaves on my new trees were burnt. This wind feels relatively warm in comparison so I hope the trees won’t be damaged.

Read a bit of “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” – we had been asked to find some dialogue that had had a profound effect on us and, having not read it for 3o years, have been lured into reading it again.

The first para:

“Our is essentially a tragic age, so we refuse to take it tragically. The cataclysm has happened, we are among the ruins, we start to build up little habitats, to have new little hopes. It is rather hard work: there is now no smooth road into the future: but we go round, or scramble over he obstacles. We’ve got to live, no matter how many skies have fallen.”