Rachel C. Walker’s ashen windows will be premiered by vocalists Lauren McAllister and Jackie Stevens on April 28 as part of CSB’s Music for Three. Guandong poet Ruan Xuefang 阮雪芳 joins us for a guest blog post about the text for the work, her poem Song of Darkness 黑暗之歌.

阮雪芳, 《黑暗之歌》


— 吹来成吨的黑暗


Ruan Xuefang, Song of Darkness

Isolated night
ashen windows
Flesh, also extinguished
Lying still, seawater, heart of butterflies…
I am not more turbulent than the things around me

A light wind
— blows into one ton of darkness

In the dark
I am quiet, a luminous body sinking boundlessly
Resolute, without sound

Darkness is a kind of spirit. At some point, it opens the way to the universe as well as to self-knowledge.

At the time when this poem was written, I was facing a dilemma in life. The poem’s ashen windows / Flesh, also extinguished hints at the reality of my state then; similarly, seawater, heart of butterflies projects my sense of inner unease from another angle. This impulse to break through a predicament comes from the intrinsic strength present in all life. It is precisely because of this turbulence in the midst of silence, this tension which is formed against the darkness, that causes life to shine out like a celestial body.

For us, darkness is something which everyone must face. On another level, darkness breaks the natural perspective we hold of ourselves. It appears to be quiet and indifferent. In truth, it carries a multitude of richness: the faint, the flowing, the living inner. There flows out another kind of light; regardless of the spiritual quantity or field, or whether it is the beginning or final conclusion of life, the eternal elements have been prepared. My poetry tries to explore the subject from this angle: Human beings are absolutely isolated. So then, how to carry out the completion of life, and how to initiate the self-lighting of one’s own spirit?

Ruan Xuefang, April 2019.
Translations, Rachel C. Walker.