The Origin of Selfhood: a Bilinguacultural Poem


The Origin of Selfhood: a Bilinguacultural Poem

1/ I vs 我: Denotations

The first person singular pronoun, or this very

Writing subject in English is I , an only-letter

Word, standing straight like a pole, always

Capitalized, but in Chinese, it is written with

Lucky seven strokes as 我 , with at least 108

Variations, all of which can be the object case

At the same time.

Originally, it’s formed from

The character 找, meaning ‘pursuing’, with one

Stroke added on the top, which may well stand for

Anything you would like to have, such as money

Power, fame, sex, food, or nothing if you prove

Yourself to be a Buddhist practitioner inside out

2/ Human & 人: Connotations

Since I am a direct descendant of Homo Erectus, let me

Stand straight as a human/人, rather than kneel down

When two humans walk side by side, why to coerce one

Into obeying the other like a slave fated to follow/从?

Since three humans can live together, do we really need

A leader or ruler on top of us all as a group/众?

Given all the freedom I was born with, why

Just why cage me within walls like a prisoner/囚?




Yuan Changming hails with Allen Yuan from poetrypacific.blogspot.ca. Credits include Pushcart nominations and publications in Best of the Best Canadian Poetry (2008-17), & Best New Poems Online, among others. In early 2021 Yuan served on the jury for Canada's 44th National Magazine Awards.

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