Welcome to Poetry.com

Poetry.com is a huge collection of poems from famous and amateur poets from around the world — collaboratively published by a community of authors and contributing editors.

Navigate through our poetry database by subjects, alphabetically or simply search by keywords. You can submit a new poem, discuss and rate existing work, listen to poems using voice pronunciation and even translate pieces to many common and not-so-common languages.

Rate this poem:(0.00 / 0 votes)

Stolen from an evening song

It is a painting by some Chinese scholar
Who does not only write but paints,
Whose script is both text and light,
Color and cry at once.

There, a bird is silent on stilts,
Although its shadow burns
The edge of Xuan.
Or, to represent
An ancient art, those quick blotches
Spelling for us two or three bells,
Repeating a monk’s call for alms.

If we need to fix our artist’s hut --
Where he had been taught to write --
We must observe him draw
The characters for home.
Is there a window,

A hint of a door, his mother patiently
Taking his hands and pressing
Flesh to paper?

In the painting too should be evenings
Of the artist as a boy,
Leaning his head
Toward his mother’s lips
While she whispers
About black flies buzzing
Or the burnt leaves of Chinese fir.

There, her hands on paper
Steady his eyes and ears;
But always it teaches him
How to unlatch a door, a window,
By pointing his brush strokes home.

Centuries later, we are still
Wondering how that bird
Could stay so silent; or why
A cricket needs to teach another --
Two strokes of the stylus
Just about right -- a dozen notes
Stolen from an evening song?
Font size:
Collection  Edit     

Submitted on May 02, 2011

1:03 min read

Discuss this Jasmine Villegas poem with the community:



    Find a translation for this poem in other languages:

    Select another language:

    • - Select -
    • 简体中文 (Chinese - Simplified)
    • 繁體中文 (Chinese - Traditional)
    • Español (Spanish)
    • Esperanto (Esperanto)
    • 日本語 (Japanese)
    • Português (Portuguese)
    • Deutsch (German)
    • العربية (Arabic)
    • Français (French)
    • Русский (Russian)
    • ಕನ್ನಡ (Kannada)
    • 한국어 (Korean)
    • עברית (Hebrew)
    • Gaeilge (Irish)
    • Українська (Ukrainian)
    • اردو (Urdu)
    • Magyar (Hungarian)
    • मानक हिन्दी (Hindi)
    • Indonesia (Indonesian)
    • Italiano (Italian)
    • தமிழ் (Tamil)
    • Türkçe (Turkish)
    • తెలుగు (Telugu)
    • ภาษาไทย (Thai)
    • Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese)
    • Čeština (Czech)
    • Polski (Polish)
    • Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian)
    • Românește (Romanian)
    • Nederlands (Dutch)
    • Ελληνικά (Greek)
    • Latinum (Latin)
    • Svenska (Swedish)
    • Dansk (Danish)
    • Suomi (Finnish)
    • فارسی (Persian)
    • ייִדיש (Yiddish)
    • հայերեն (Armenian)
    • Norsk (Norwegian)
    • English (English)


    Use the citation below to add this poem to your bibliography:


    "Stolen from an evening song" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 30 Jul 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/85142/stolen-from-an-evening-song>.

    Become a member!

    Join our community of poets and poetry lovers to share your work and offer feedback and encouragement to writers all over the world!

    Browse Poetry.com


    Are you a poetry master?

    The word "poetry" is from the Greek term "poiesis", which means?
    • A. Saying
    • B. Reading
    • C. Writing
    • D. Making

    Our favorite collection of

    Famous Poets