I like to see Clifford there
Peering at the junkman’s shoes
Put out on deck to dry –
Dried before the evening sun
I like to see the coloured blue
Deeply lapping at the feet
Of our glorious dead;
While the winkles crouch like altar-nuns

The shoes have the sea salt
Oft sprinkled over the junkman’s wife stove
And the sea-bed filings

And the drain-waste filings
That to the shoe-straps offer their love
’Tis true the samsengs salt their dish
And the opium smoker knows to kiss;
O life and love, swimming in the roting
Like the dinner remains of an eyeless fish.

The winkles cling like the age to the past,
Like men carving on stones,
Carving the will of life,
Harping the psalm of death,
Whining like the dogs with their bones.
Tis sweet the city trickles bathe the clingings
losing themselves in the ooze of vastness
Mixing with what came before —
O that can do more for what come after.


By Wang Gungwu