Down a long, long corridor
I keep walking…
—A window straight ahead so bright it hurts the eyes,
reflective walls on both sides.
I stand with the sunlight.
—The sunlight is so intense!
So warm people stop in their tracks,
so bright people hold their breath.
All the light in the universe collects here.
—I don’t know that anything else exists.
There is only me, leaning on the sunlight,
stopping for ten seconds.
Ten seconds can be as long
as a quarter century!
At last, I rush down the stairs,
pull open the door,
dash about in the spring sunlight…
Wang Xiaoni, “I Feel the Sun,” from Something Crosses My Mind. English Translation Copyright © 2014 by Eleanor Goodman. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.
Source: Something Crosses My Mind (Zephyr Press, 2014)
1. Sunlight is the central image of the poem. What do you think sunlight symbolizes to the speaker?
2. Why does the speaker call attention to the ‘long, long corridor’ at the outset of the poem?
3. How does the speaker respond initially to the sunlight?
4. As the poem unfolds, does the speaker develop any illusion and/or hallucination of the sunlight? If yes, what is it, and what does it signify to the poet?
5. How does the poet describe the sunlight?
6. Why do you think the poet repeats the phrase “ten seconds” in the fourth stanza? In other words, what is particularly significant about these “ten seconds”?
7. Given the way the whole poem is full of sunlight, is there any ‘shadow’ or darkness suggested by the poet as opposed to the light?
8. Both the first and last line end with ellipses. How are these two lines connected, and what do those ellipses imply?
9. Use the poetic devices personification and/or apostrophe to write a ‘parallel’ or similar poem about candlelight, moonlight or any other kind of light.