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Tan, Changming: "To See the Sky Is Poetry"

To See the Sky Is Poetry

Changming Tan, Wuhan University, China

In August 1994, I crossed the extensive Gobi Desert together with my wife Ms Fu Yong, and went to the north-western frontier of China. A copy of poems by Emily Dickinson accompanied us in the whole 1,000 mile journey. As we traveled westward, the altitude got higher and higher. At last, we got out of the desert and came to a beautiful lake named Sayram (Sailimu). The lake is situated beneath the west chain of Tian Shan Mountains, with an elevation of 2073 m (6800 ft).
Just at the first glance, the natural beauty of Sayram Lake touched me deeply. I was instantly intoxicated. Though it was the first time I had been to Sayram Lake, I felt very familiar with her. This was because of her natural beauty was so similar to the poems borne in my mind. It was Emily’s verses which immediately welled up from the very middle of my brain:

I see the summer sky
Is Poetry, though never in a book it lie
– (JP1472)

The influence of Emily Dickinson in China is increasing. This essay is merely the personal understanding and appreciation by a common Chinese reader, but it is an example of the worldwide significance of Dickinson and her poems. I wish the Emily Dickinson International Society would pay more attention to the study of Emily Dickinson in China, and give more guidance to Chinese readers.