Dong Xian had dreamt
Of this day many, many times:
When he stepped
Out of the emperor’s chamber,
He headed for his beloved Ai’s grave,
Holding a sword firmly in his hand
To protect himself.

Without any heir, without any doubt,
Ai had declared Dong Xian

At his deathbed, Ai dismissed
Dong Xian’s protest:
“How can a man rule the earth
Without Heaven’s decree?”

Ai reached for Dong Xian’s palm,
And handed him
The imperial seal. He said: “A force
Equal to the Heavens
Has mandated your reign.”

And Ai took his last glimpse
Of human love.

But the enemies
Of the Hans never slept.

A few hours from now,
Dong Xian knew Wang Mang
And his armies would seize
The palace. And kill him.

No. Dong Xian chose to spend
The morning watching
From Ai’s tomb
Cherry blossoms kissing
The earth’s many lips.

He soon summoned the sword
From its sleep, and the loyal subject
Honored its duty: It painted
The ground red.

Before Dong Xian could shut
His ears to the world’s wailing,
Memory took him back
To the red chamber
One misty morning:

He was dreaming
Across the sleeve
Of Ai’s tunic, blooming
With golden chrysanthemums.
And careful
Not to wake him, Ai the Emperor
Cut off his sleeve.

About Blanche Edith Baughan

Early Life Blanche Edith Baughan was born on 16 January 1870 at Putney, Surrey, England. She was the youngest of six children of Ruth Catterns and her husband, John Baughan, a scrivener. Her father died when she was 10 years old. Baughan was one of the first women to attend Royal Holloway College when it opened to students studying for University of London degrees. She left in 1891 having gained the first first-class honours BA degree in Classics awarded to a member of the college. Soon after graduating Baughan became involved in social work in the slums of Shoreditch and... Read more...

Poet of the day

Enid Derham was an Australian poet and academic.


Derham was born in Hawthorn, Melbourne, Victoria, the eldest daughter of Thomas Plumley Derham, solicitor, and his wife Ellen Hyde, née Hodgson, of Melbourne. Derham was educated at Hessle College, Camberwell, then at Presbyterian Ladies' College and the University of Melbourne....

Poem of the day


It might be lonelier
Without the Loneliness—
I'm so accustomed to my Fate—
Perhaps the Other—Peace—

Would interrupt the Dark—
And crowd the little Room—
Too scant—by Cubits—to contain
The Sacrament—of Him—

I am not used to Hope—
It might intrude upon—