Po-hua Stream would delight the angler of Ts’ang-lang.
Caressed by wind, bamboo sways – elegant, flawless.
In rain, red lotus blossoms grow more and more fragrant.
Old friends with fat salaries have stopped writing,
And the kids, forever hungry, wear faces of cold despair.
About to fill some gutter, he is carefree, the madman
Grown old laughing at his growing steadily madder.
(Taken from The Selected Poems of Tu Fu,
Translated by David Hinton)
It was not my original intention to post this poem. But the last stanza caught my attention,
“About to fill some gutter, he is carefree, the madman
Grown old laughing at his growing steadily madder.”
We were told that the madman is laughing at his growing madness.
But why is he laughing? Is he laughing because he is free from the harshness of reality? Is he laughing because he is free to do what he pleases? Or is he laughing because he knows it is the world that is growing steadily madder and only he is sane enough to realize it?
I wish I could laugh like him.