dinsdag 28 mei 2013

Lines in praise of a self-chiming clock

Lines in Praise of a Self-Chiming Clock

The skill originated in the West,
But, by learning, we can achieve the artifice:
Wheels move and time turns round,
Hands show the minutes as they change.

Red-capped watchmen, there's no need to announce dawn's coming.
My golden clock has warned me of the time.
By first light I am hard at work,
And keep on asking, "Why are the memorials late?"

Quoted from 'Emperor of China, self-portrait of K'ang Hsi' by Jonathan D. Spence. Hsi was a Qing dynasty (so Manchu and not Han, open to the world rather than self-absorbed and arrogant) emperor who reigned from 1661 to 1722. This is not a real autobiography but one synthesized from loose fragments. It's totally Poundian (as in Ezra Pound) showing the wise leader in deliberation about his tasks. The poems (c. 1705) shows the enduring prestige of poetry (and calligraphy) and it also documents a humorous (?) response from the emperor himself to the implications of radical new technology.

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