Wang Wei, “Morning, Sailing into Xinyang” [Poetry for Ordinary Time]

I’ve enjoyed posting poetry series themed around the Christian year in the past couple of years (see “Poetry for Lent” and “Poetry for Easter“). I will continue that with a series called “Poetry for Ordinary Time.” Ordinary time includes two sections of the church year between Christmastide and Lent and Easter and Advent. The word “ordinary” here derives from the word ordinal by which the weeks are counted. Still, ordinary time does serve an opportunity to embrace the ordinary spaces and places of our lives, and the themes of the poems will express this.

Here is Wang Wei’s poem “Morning, Sailing into Xinyang” from Laughing Lost in the Mountains: Poems of Wang Wei. Wang Wei was a poet in 8th century China whose work kept him busy, even as he longed for a contemplative life.


As my boat sails into Xingze Lake
I am stunned by this glorious city!
A canal meanders by narrow courtyard doors.
Fires and cooking smoke crowd the water.
In these people I see strange customs
and the dialect here is obscure.
In late autumn, fields are abundant.
Morning light. Noise wakes at the city wells.
Fish merchants float on the waves.
Chickens and dogs. Villages on either bank.
I’m heading away from white clouds.
What will become of my solitary sail?


Previous poems in this series:

4 thoughts on “Wang Wei, “Morning, Sailing into Xinyang” [Poetry for Ordinary Time]

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