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Home-Coming by Gao Xian

Culturelink is happy to publish a beautiful poem dedicated to the theme of returning home. Numerous poets and novelists use this symbolic image to express their état d'âme, their reminiscences and reflections, in a philosophical, critical or any other way. We may recall the Martinique poet Aimée Césaire and his poem Cahier d'un retour au pays natal (A Return to the Native Land), or the first chapter of D. Paul Schafer's new book presented above Foundation for Life, and many others. Today, it is our great honour to present a poem by Gao Xian, member of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and member of Culturelink from its very inception. After half a century, Gao Xian got a chance to return to, and stay in his Shanghai home for a few days. That short home-coming was an unforgettable occasion to him, and his emotions could not help but pour out in the form of a poem, although, as Gao Xian says himself, he is not a poet. The poem mirrors his personal experience, while also reflecting the state of mind of many Chinese intellectuals, and may be considered their cultural portrayal.

And here is the poem:


By Gao Xian

Half a century yearning,
Day and night longing,
I desire a genuine home-coming,
Not as someone touring,
Nor as a guest visiting,
But to turn true a dream long missing,
Back to the same old house my parents were living.
Now the day is coming.
Five day's stay could compensate fifty year's waiting.
I push open the door with most familiar "No. 41" marking.
I climb the worn-out staircase with age-old creaking.
I enjoy my blood brother's warm welcome and caring
And his beloved wife's thoughtful treating.
Even the cat likes my fondling,
Never takes me as a stranger frightening.
The cooperation in compiling and editing
Our grandfather's Collected Works for publishing
Gives us best mutual understanding
And a cultural outcome most rewarding.
So much at home without an outsider's feeling.
This is just what I am seeking.
Here on the very bed I am lying,
Where my mother spent her last years ailing.
Here at the desk with paint fading,
I see my father bent over writing.
Everything I touch bears memories ever-lasting,
Every moment I spend is full of nostalgic thinking.
Yet I do feel profoundly regretting
For much too late is my awakening.
Quietly in my parents room I am sitting
With tears in my heart I am pondering
Their most loving care and best teaching.
There is no way for repaying.
There may be some relief for them on seeing:
Love and care among Xin, Xian and Qing.
Over or near seventy we still keep fit in working and thinking.
We all enjoy happy family with nice offspring.
We contribute our part for a society of better living.
Thus I am concluding
At long last, a genuine home-coming.

(written in 2000, revised in 2007)