An Excuse For Not Returning the Visit of a Friend


Do not be offended because

I am slow to go out. You know

Me too well for that. On my lap

I hold my little girl. At my

Knees stands my handsome little son.

One has just begun to talk.

The other chatters without

Stopping. They hang on my clothes

And follow my every step.

I can’t get any farther

Than the door. I am afraid

I will never make it to your house.


~ Mei-Yao Ch’en (1002-1060)

translated by Kenneth Rexroth (1905-1982)

from Songs of Love, Moon, & Wind: Poems from the Chinese, translated by Kenneth Rexroth. From the original by Mei Yao-Ch’en. Copyright © 1971 by Kenneth Rexroth. New Directions Publishing Corp. All rights reserved.


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