Fall 1983 • Vol. V No. 4 Poetry |

Around Its Knees

On the Tsientang River near Hangchow Bay, south of Shanghai, soars a giant, stone, eight-faced pagoda offering walks 'round its knees to workers, soldiers, families. Massive old giant mortared by boiled rice laced with fat and blood; few windows, and small, open to the sun and wind. In that dim stone place I thought of Gothic Cathedrals: the shared worship of an up-soaring empty center. Japanese pagodas are built around one sacred thick high pillar, a tree, from whose widespread arms hang three or five storeys of many-windowed rooms, roofs extended smoothly like spread wings of birds coming down to rest: mirroring the spirit of a Japanese Buddha. But the stone structures of China, France, Italy, take the shape of a bird driving up through storm and rain, wings straining back to the limit of strength. From such power, such driving will, perhaps was born the old Chinese golden civilization, the new Western spaceship ways. That night in my Hangchow hotel I fell on my be

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