East Idioms Reinterpreted |
by Changming Yuan

1/ hualongdianjing [画龙点]
the moment a bold pupil is dotted
inside each of its handsome eyes
the painted dragon jumps alive
and flies high above the sky
2/ yanerdaoling [掩耳盗]
To prevent the sound from being heard
As he tries to steal the only bell in the village
The thief stops his own ears with thick cotton
Believing that no one would find him out
3/ saiwengshima [塞翁失]
On a snowy evening a poor old frontier tribesman 
Lost his horse, the only means of living he had
While everybody still felt sorry for him a week later
The horse returned home with another one wild
4/ handanxuebu [邯郸学]
In their fondest hope to walk as gracefully as handsomely as the residents of Handan
People swarm in from every part of the country to learn and practice the capital steps
But many have failed to learn the new steps while others forgot their old ways
So they all have to crawl back on their fours to where they originally came from
5/ yegonghaolong [叶公好龙]
Instead of God, Money, Computer, Sex or Art, Mr Ye believes in Dragon only
He loves the legendary animal so much so that he paints it on every surface he can find
Deeply moved by his devoted passion, a real dragon comes down to visit him  
But no sooner has he seen its face than he jumps to flee, with his pants all wet with fright
6/ dongshixiaoping [东施效颦]
Every time she walks in public, Dongsi tries hard to press her belly and frown her brows
Exactly in the same way as does Xisi the most beautiful woman in the whole country
For her, this is the trendiest thing to do to win herself some lovers or admirers
For Xisi, this is a gesture she cannot help making while suffering from a physical pain
7/ yugongyishan [愚公移]
To remove the two big mountains blocking the way to or from his home
The old Mr Fool uses a spade to dig away the dirt and gravel day by day
Isnt it much simpler just to relocate you own family house, says Mr Smart
But so long as we persist, the mountains will be gone some day, he replies
Changming Yuan, 8-time Pushcart nominee and author of Chansons of a Chinaman (2009) and Landscaping (2013), grew up in rural China,holds a PhD in English, and currently tutors in Vancouver, where he co-edits Poetry Pacific with Allen Qing Yuan and operates PP Press. Most recently interviewed by [PANK] and World Poetry (cfro100.5fm), Yuan has poetry appearing in Asia Literary Review Best Canadian Poetry, BestNewPoemsOnline, London Magazine, Threepenny Review and 869 other literary journals/anthologies across 30 countries.