The dusk was falling.
As evening drew near, we would find security. The light had softened considerably, and the heat of day was dissipating under the gentle glow, rendering the atmosphere quite lovely. When the light draped the mountains, forests, and vegetation, I felt a change come over me. When twilight had donned its robes, I knew not. I had but recently been under the scorching daylight, viewing the vain things of the world, yet now it had become fuller and more grand, the radiance so thick, making an evening of unparalleled beauty.
We had read of dusk innumerable times, yet had nothing to do within its moments. The flora before our eyes took on hues of dusk. Crimson, vermilion, I could not distinguish, the aura so mutable, overlapping and blending, like colors splashed upon paper. The dusk in our ears also became still, the birds resting peacefully in the deep glades, the cattle and sheep returning at a leisurely pace, and all toil and idleness finding their place in the dusk, as if age and death themselves did not commune. In the dusk, I suddenly felt the world had grown smaller. As long as I gazed around, there existed cause and effect for me alone. The world was but such a state: the birds returning home from the sky, the mountains and woods hushed here, the foliage would be veiled by the language of dusk, awaiting me upon a path, all upon the earth finding the most comfortable position, caring not for the sounds of mountain wind or rain, the twilight of dusk concealing itself in the distance, with only thunder heard.
Will there be youth observing ants climb trees at dusk’s coming?
Perhaps a lowly rustic life stands far from dusk, and dusk remains as in days past, though people have lost their leisure. Those concealed within the city possess but naked admiration for the dusk, and the dusk they see is solely serene. The houses stand joined as one, and when twilight falls appear so solemn, like figures of sleeplessness, hushed and still.
I must return to country and let evening be at peace. We must learn to delight in joy at day’s end. Dusk shall leave us in time. We have redefined it countless times, and we must determine its domain. Plains and mountains and deserts all possess the light of dusk. Is the dusk we favor but a glimpse? Clearly not – we see a daisy upon distant mountains, where light and shade reside, the mountain receding into the distance and growing ever lighter. The eternity within dusk upon the mountain lives on in a line of poetry. The vastness of the plain too shall stitch together the loneliness of the day, and enthusiasm fade, finding safety in night at last. At this moment I am reunited with dusk after long absence, as two fires it illuminates the world, and I illuminate myself.
I am grateful for the dusk the birds have sent me, and I must endeavor to compose a few words. Dusk is so solemn, and the mountains have altered their forms. Sometimes I think on what the dusk appears as. We repeatedly praise the dusk. What are we praising? Perhaps when we praise the dusk, it is not that there exist so many objects within dusk. Dusk should be subtracted, and it becomes clearer and plainer.
Evening lies not far from us – where is it? It hangs upon the mountain, it is upon the wings of dragonflies, and within the spirit of crows. We obey our minds countless times, keeping dusk from subjective judgment, and letting it wake naturally. Dusk is dusk, not vassal to any. For so many years dusk has become mere decoration for too many. Whenever the ancients compose fine words, they must find comfort in dusk’s inspiration. Regardless of time’s passage or loneliness of living within dusk, we repeatedly praise dusk. Indeed, we seek a mirror image, a kind of primal sin regarding desire. How beautiful the evening, yet after beauty comes night, when all vanishes and returns to origin.
The light arrives from afar, like a grand river bringing twilight, so melancholy, so charming. They bear the loneliness of dusk, striking every object, such as cooking smoke and green grasses, and countless cold stars scattered in the sky.
The sunset over the long river locks continuation of romance through the ages. We have always dwelled in a deathly twilight, inheriting an ancient and fresh loneliness: the long river lies so distant, and the boat speeds so fast, we must hasten home. Perhaps within the twilight, as long as we think upon the word “home,” all becomes better.
The clouds float in the sky, like an upside down river flowing into the distance. The white clouds are like river waters flowing so swiftly, at a certain moment I waited eagerly for dusk, the setting sun disappearing, only twilight filling the sky, and suddenly under the crimson twilight a bird appeared, but the rest was blank, a mass of riddles the key to which has not yet been found. It was not until a light shone that dusk fell silent.
The lights reach for ambition, will it connect people’s melancholy and loneliness in the dusk? Maybe, maybe not.
To listen to the dusk
The sun took its last ray of light, and the crow shrieked from its perch upon the branch, its call close to the ground, then suddenly it took wing and floated past my form. The cry was full of passion yet less wild. The delicate birdsong was captured by me at dusk. I am a child who watches the dusk, and I always like staring vacantly at the crimson clouds in the sky. See how it is red yet not thick, with orange and yellow within, and a blue cloud hanging amid – like a blue lake. The entire sky was grand and magnificent, and when the clouds parted the sky became yet more abundant, and patterns without end were pasted outside the window. I kept observing the dusk, blue and crimson, and finally it entered the black envelope. None favor dusk’s appearance, when clouds grow thick, and bright clear light grows sadder, accompanied by birdsong, a kind of silence suddenly wrapped around my words, I seemed to hear a secret, still and sad.
Upon the birds’ wings there is boundless gloom.
The black overlapped such that countless pieces of black like shattered pottery piled together, forming an empty bowl buckled over my village. We felt no breathlessness, but sensed the night in the village much thicker, layer upon layer not to be torn apart.
A lamp was like a small bean, the flame protruding its tongue breaking through the black citadel, its light penetrating the night, allowing brightness to reside in the house. The room hung misty, and one could vaguely know the hardships of a lamp. On could compare the essence of light thus – resist heaviness with humility, let a light bloom in the cramped, thin, and persevering quarters. Let light cover one corner, its occupying appearance making us full of curiosity regarding lamps. A light can unravel life’s infinity.
The lantern possessed little ambition, sticking but to one house.
It was far less wild than the moon, roaming from one window to the next, from one courtyard to another. The tiles, wells, and lattice walls all covered in moonlight. Sometimes I drew water from the well, so bright it seemed to salvage a bucket of moonlight. In the silent courtyard, what people seemed to drink was not water, but a bowl of moonlight.
When the moon rose, the night lacked security. It seemed the night’s secret had been exposed, a handful of night taken here, a handful of night carried away there. The tree’s shadow, the eaves’ shadow, the mountains’ shadow, we glimpsed secrets within shadows: a cat crossing the wall colliding with moonlight upon the wall. It but desired to step upon the moonlight to see if light as down. The moonlight stood quiet, wrapping the countryside within, preventing any sound from spilling forth. Birdsong echoing low, as if Moonlight had fitted a silencer. And the moonlight so wild, boundlessly proliferating. The wild moonlight would meet all wildflowers flourishing wildly upon the earth. They were still, but with lives’ love changed details in a line of text.
After dusk, was a moonlit night the same as a moonless night? The answer was plain. The moon possessed all variables, and anything was possible, yet thick night without moonlight’s radiance would surely fall into a single pattern. Dark reigned everywhere, and the evening wind powerless to blow away any darkness. Wind and night seemed unable unite into tranquility’s kind.
After cattle and sheep returned, peace a while. Some shadows lived within lights, we saw grand branches and leaves connected, and blood’s tie. All words of suffering would show absurdity in spring when rice embroidered. The past we had recalled countless times had become known light, lived and dim. We had obeyed countless times the present, letting smoke and rice fragrance travel half of China together, and another way out in dusk appear: countryside peaceful with poetic moonlight.
The sounds of the night
When night deepened, a dragonfly remained flying beside the haystack. After pausing a moment it suddenly disappeared without trace, as if sinking into an abyss. I knew the dragonfly still existed but was covered by night. Disappearing with it were cats’ shadows, dogs’ shadows, mice and people’s shadows, also covered by the night.
We had organized our vocabulary on the night many times before, yet struggled to connect such terms together coherently. allowing those words regarding darkness to overlap would make articulating one’s feelings towards the night impossible. Everyone holds a private lexicon of the night within their heart. My father often referenced the night as “heigulongdong”, whilst my mother spoke of “black lights and blind fire”. Though discussing the same night, our languages differed – one emphasized sound, another contrast, and another self-reflection. In the world, each defines night through their most familiar flair. All perspectives hold value, yet the subject remained only partially illuminated.
The night remains fluid. Though I write thus, some may refute. I accept the night signifies naught but light’s absence, space seemingly still, yet this vast black night must flow as a river ebbs and flows. At times, darkness draped the lamp’s fan; at others, stirred winds. In brief, the night appears quiet yet contains undercurrents.
Regarding the night, antiquity seemed cut from similar cloth: the sky towers high and earth lies far, endless solitude bearing the lamp’s weight. Stone mills, mallets, and cotton-padded garments awaiting winter conveyed yard’s messages down empty alleys: “Return home.” The anvil’s pounding rang louder than other sounds, sounds near other sounds. In darkness roads hurried as poems, in darkness China’s ancient night-song met. A voice came distantly, wandering lonely, downcast, undervalued – night’s weight bent verse.
We stand as history’s descendants, having heard its hush at night, but the night sounds so grand. Where nights of antiquity shone clear, tonight must cloud. At night women sit two or three beneath the lamp, sipping tea at leisure’s end. Though all lights extinct in dark night, endless converse remains – why does night shorten so? Upon farewell the opposite barbecue’s glow and ground-pounded sounds lingered. Listening we must imagine: sour frames wrapped in families’ hope, hiding in foreign cities’ corners, paying night tribute through humble tongues. A long dark table, greasy stools, and pot of boiling tea – the night holds their voice; they comprise night; in their eyes night shows beauty, fatigue shaken, China seen upon the Yellow River’s bank in wine, a village’s shadow.
The boy’s bicycle lengthened shadow too beneath lights. Evening study’s bell rang; these teenagers bird-like gathered on asphalt like migratory flock. Lights and shadows’ expanse such that one “bird” lost, the next followed; finally a youth slipping indoors began the night’s second half. Daily routine repeats and machines, a teen’s time splits ‘tween subjects – Chinese, math, English…Extinguishing lights, the world slept. How I wished to hear night-sounds save dogs’ occasional barks and birds aloft, but night lost command and silence reigned.
‘Cross most China how many footsteps find accommodation at night? Some temporarily dwell after leaving countryside; to their eyes night held less riches than the urban people. Feasting seemed a mirror reflecting humanity’s varied fates. Bidding night farewell with cheapest wine, smiles so charmingly rendered. I knew myself a rural émigré – on this night I heard lament from my own depths.
None speak of loneliness’ night. Those thinking solitude find company; remaining commence converse regarding this night. Discussing night winds and farming, a sneeze’s city-wide impact. We vacationed in darkness year-round and discovered our superfluity. Light and windowsills belonged not to me; so many nights partitioned by others. And so we had naught.