She is the same Green Voice whom I met the first time: young, pretty, and intelligent. Back then with long hair flying in the wind, she wrote gentle and ethereal poems which touched a lot of readers with passion. I cannot remember how we met then. Maybe in the yard with dense plum trees in my hometown, in the same dense shadow of banyan trees, she came to see me. Before that meeting, I already read her poems. She had an ethereal and plain style, same as her poems.
As many young female poets I know, Green Voice seems to live in her poems only. And most of her poems belong to a young lady's feelings, love, and a sky full of dreams. The world is full of matters that maybe she knows, maybe she does not want to know. She has turned away from trivial and materialistic things most people struggle to have, in order to attend to purity which, with the touch of her spirits, turns to some plain and ethereal poems filled with affecting qualities.
Poems of Green Voice, same as herself, are pure, sincere, unostentatious, passionate, and refined. Many of her verses are short, unadorned, and succinct. Her poems have an elegance similar to plain nature since she does not embellish them on purpose. Nowadays, many poems are flamboyant, over-adorned, or deliberately abstruse, or rude on purpose, and to certain degree, shown off. To Green Voice, writing poetry is a simple happiness, a self-liberation from a world full of pretense and mercenariness. What she has pursued is a truth and simplicity which purifies mind and warms heart.
She is born only for love, valuing her own feelings more than anything else. All of her poems have a similar theme. She says that life, death, love, and eternity are always what she wants to express. Eternity, simply put, is love. Life is not everlasting and ends as death falls. But love transcends space and time, floating and drifting in loving hearts even when everything ends. But all these depend on the wings of poetry.
Green Voice is always pure, a lady born for love. It is poetry that gives her a string of green musical verses. Many years have passed since our first meeting, and she remains pure, seemingly unwilling to grow up, keeping her purity and sincerity. Every time I meet her, or we talk over overseas phone calls, she has only one topic, poetry. Some people say that poetry has lagged behind the trends since 1980's. Many poets have started businesses or have turned to novels or TV screen writing. There are few like Green Voice who still insists on her earliest promises and dreams of poetry, devoting herself to love and writing her own aesthetics. That is why we are inspired. Her simplicity is rarely seen in a world full of ravenous noises.
She is still the same Green Voice I met in the shadow of banyan trees in my hometown and the girl I saw in Causeway Bay in Hong Kong, but she has matured like her poems. She still writes about eternal love but with a much deeper understanding about what she belongs to and worships. It's not that she does not know the complexity of the world but that she wants to simplify it. Like before, her poems are without much decoration or exaggeration. Her poems are simple, gentle, and ethereal. But Time has left its trace in her writing, dark and somber:
I ask flames for the definition of burning,
Flames never answer;
I look for the way in which light falls into the dark
Darkness never answers;
This is her Silent World that chill rain and cold wind cannot stand in her way.
After seas go dry
and rocks crumble,
will we still
stand on the beautiful ruins
with eyes only for each other?
(The Fall of a City)
Sadness is the eternal camel
traveling without end.
Happiness the canteen
on the back of the camel.
And graves are beneath our footprints.
The feeling in her poems is profound and vast, transcending her early writing style. Besides her original simplicity and ethereality, we can find the darkness and heaviness in her poems. Green Voice is thoughtful and can see beyond what others see, creating the miracle of language with her skills. In Empty Sea she writes: Let your route cut me a thousand times, I am the sea, only with tears but woundless! Green Voice has brought us surprise with her unobservable maturity. Even so, I have to say, she is same as before, but with a strength to discard everything——
Tonight I am in your palms
Neither telling of my previous life,
Nor asking about the next one.
The preface was written in Chang Chun Garden of Beijing University.
August 24, 2003
(Translated by Ying Yun, Edited by Timothy Liu)
Poetic Green Voice was published in Xiamen Evening News (June 16, 2004), China & Overseas Writers and Entrepreneurs (the academic newspaper by Fujian Writers' Association, May 31, 2004), Eastern (May 2004, Vol. 46) and World News (May 4, 2004). Green Voice is the pen name of Yidan Han.
Xie Mian: Born in January, 1932, in Fuzhou, Fujian Province, China. He is a professor at Beijing University, Ph.D advisor, director of Chinese Language and Literature Institution at Beijing University. He serves as one of the key members of China Writers' Association and the vice chairman of Chinese Contemporary Literature Research Association. He is the editor-in-chief of Poetry Exploration—a journal publishing critical articles on contemporary Chinese poetry. Xie Mian began to write since 1948. In 1950s, he began to do research on modern and contemporary Chinese literature as well as poetry criticism. His major literary works include Poetry Critique by the Lake, Starlight of the Republic (1983), Green Revolution in Literature (1988), Poet's Creation (1989), Fire of the Earth Still in Motion (1991), Sun of the New Century, Great Transformation---Literary Study of Post-New Era Literature (co-author), 1898: The Hundred-Year Turmoil (1998), Chinese Literature in the 20th Century (1998), Literary Critique: Methodology and Practice. His prose and essay collections include Messages to the Century, Everlasting Campus, Water Flowing to Distance, Landscapes in My Heart, etc. He was the editor-in chief of Selective Works of Contemporary Chinese Young Poets (1986), Chinese Literature of the 20th Century Series (10 volumes), Classical Chinese Literature of One Hundred Years (8 volumes, 1997), Anthology of One Hundred Years' Chinese Literature (12 volumes, 1998) and a co-editor of The Best of Contemporary Chinese Poetry (1988). In 1986, his name entered Biography of the Eminences (12th edition) at the Oxford's International Biography Center. In 1991, his name was listed in American Biography Institute's (ABI) Dictionary of Biographies of International Eminences (3rd edition). He was awarded by ABI the Certificate of Outstanding Achievement and also invited to be an honorary adviser for ABI in the same year.