Thursday, March 8, 2007

Love in a Fallen City

I've almost completed the short story by Eileen Chang "Love in a Fallen City." The book of all her short stories has the same title and seems quite well translated.

I try to wait to talk about things until I've finished them, but Love in a Fallen City contains a sweet, mournful poem that I must share. By way of background, most of the stories are about modern love and the push-pull of the games we all play in the pursuit of a lasting relationship. The women are torn between trying to maintain their virtue and reputation versus trusting in the men that are courting them. While reading, it's impossible to tell if the men are honestly in love or simply using the women for whatever reason (oh, how art mimics our sweet and sour lives).

So this sweet ancient Chinese poem, dropped in a complicated, isolating story of ambiguous intentions, brought tears to my eyes. For what more do we all want from our relationships, from our lives than the following:
Facing life, death, distance
Here is my promise to thee-
I take thy hand in mine:
We will grow old together
A solemn pledge. Not promising happiness, nor wealth. A promise of age and companionship only.
We should all be so lucky.

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