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Harken the tears! A poem by Yuan Chen

The following is a poem from Yuan Chen, a great Chinese poet from 779-831 A.D. It is a poem of mourning, so it is a tearjerker. I enjoy the truth in the mention of their love growing stronger, the pain of loss stronger, because of their poverty, not in spite of it. That felt very real, a very human observation.

An Elegy

I

O youngest, best-loved daughter of Hsieh,

Who unluckily married this penniless scholar,

You patched my clothes from your own wicker basket,

And I coaxed off your hairpins of gold, to buy wine with;

For dinner we had to pick wild herbs

-And to use dry locust-leaves for our kindling..

Today they are paying me a hundred thousand

-And all that I can bring to you is a temple of sacrifice.

II

We joked, long ago, about one of us dying,

But suddenly, before my eyes, you are gone.

Almost all your clothes have been given away;

Your needleworok is sealed, I dare not look at it

I continue your bounty to our men and our maids

-Sometimes, in a dream, I bring you gifts . .

This is a sorrow that all mandkind must know –

But not as those know it who have been poor together.

III

I sit here alone, mourning for us both.

How many years do I lack now of my threescore and ten?

There have been better men than I to whom heaven denied a son,

There was a better poet than I whose dead wife could not hear him.

What have I to hope for in the darkness of our tomb?

You and I had little faith in a meeting after death

-Yet my open eyes can see all night

That lifelong trouble of your brow.
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About Author

My name is Michael Sean Gallagher. I am a Lecturer in Digital Education at the Centre for Research in Digital Education at the University of Edinburgh. I am Co-Founder and Director of Panoply Digital, a consultancy dedicated to ICT and mobile for development (M4D); we have worked with USAID, GSMA, UN Habitat, Cambridge University and more on education and development projects. I was a researcher on the Near Futures Teaching project, a project that explores how teaching at The University of Edinburgh unfold over the coming decades, as technology, social trends, patterns of mobility, new methods and new media continue to shift what it means to be at university. Previously, I was the Research Associate on the NERC, ESRC, and AHRC Global Challenges Research Fund sponsored GCRF Research for Emergency Aftershock Forecasting (REAR) project. I was an Assistant Professor at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (한국외국어대학교) in Seoul, Korea. I have also completed a doctorate at University College London (formerly the independent Institute of Education, University of London) on mobile learning in the humanities in Korea.

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