Content Warning: Suicide.
This poem was written by poet Haizi in January 1989. Two months after the poem was written, Haizi committed suicide in the spring by going to sleep on railway tracks in Shanhaiguan, Hebei Province. More on why I chose this poem to translate below.
Facing the Sea, With Flowers that Bloom in the Spring by Haizi
From tomorrow, I’ll be a happy man.
I’ll feed my horses, cut my firewood and travel the world.
From tomorrow, I’ll watch what I eat and eat my vegetables.
I have a house that faces the sea, with flowers that bloom in the spring.
From tomorrow, I’ll write to all those I hold dear
and tell them about my happiness
What that lightning spark of happiness that tells me that I
Will tell everyone and
Give every stream and every mountain a warm name.
Stranger, I also wish you well!
I wish you have a beautiful future!
I wish you find long-lasting love!
I wish you happiness on this earth!
I only want to face the sea, with flowers that bloom in the spring.
Why I chose this poem
It hurts me to read this poem. I think a lot about the “lightning spark of happiness” that Haizi describes. When I struggled with my mental health and wellness in high school, some days I would get bursts of clarity– moments where I felt like everything made sense and everything was going to be okay. Haizi’s work speaks to me because the idyllic world he describes is one that is rooted in his pain. This poem is interesting both because of this picture of happiness he paints, but also because of what he omits. When Haizi boldly declares that he will embrace life, the implication is that he is embracing it amidst a series of battles he is waging with his inner demons. The way that Haizi connotes his inner torment while describing this beautiful, idyllic world he wishes to inhabit makes this one of my all-time favorite poems.