Misty Poems

I also discovered two other poems that stayed with me while I was following the Beloit Poetry Journal. I think it was in an anniversary edition (perhaps this one), they were presented as a set. One was by Bei Dao and called “Everything,” the second was a reply from Shu Ting called “This Is Also Everything: In Reply To A Young Friend’s Everything.” It looks like they were reprints from a late 1980s chapbook.



by Bei Dao


Everything is fate

Everything is clouds and mist

Everything is beginnings without ends

Everything is a search for something that always escapes

Every mirth is without smiles

Every misery is without tears

Every utterance is without repetition

Every encounter is merely a first meeting

Every love lies hidden in the heart

Every memory lives only in dreams

Every hope has a footnote

Every faith is full of grief and groaning

Every moment of peace contains tumult

Every death is a boring echo that goes on and on



This Is Also Everything: In Reply to a Young Friend’s Everything

by Shu Ting


Not every big tree breaks in the storm

Not every seed fails to find soil and root

Not every true love vanished in the desert of human hearts

Not every dream wishes to have its wings clipped

No, everything is not as you say.


Not every flame burns only for itself

            without illuminating others

Not every stay only points the way in the darkness

            without ever predicting dawn

Not every song visits your ear

            without leaving a gift in your heart

No, everything is not as you say


It’s not true that every appeal has no echo

It’s not true that every loss remains forever a loss

It’s not true that every abyss means destruction and death

It’s not true that every catastrophe falls on the heads of the weak

It’s not true that every heart is trampled underfoot

It’s not true that everything ends in tears and blood stains

            with no trace of joy

The present is the embryo of the future

To hope and fight for one’s hope–

Please put this on your shoulders



I just found them so moving, darkness and the hint of dawn. They’re both described as being from the Misty school of poetry. I can’t really say why they should touch me so, but I guess that’s part of the mystery of poetry. I need to seek out some of their books.


I especially love “Every hope has a footnote” It’s sad and elegant and immediate (especially to someone prone to footnote and parentheticals) but also brings to my mind the dry and sometimes dark humor of fantasy author Terry Pratchett’s footnotes which gives it an extra layer to me.


In trying to search out those two poems again I discovered that the BPJ has some PDFs of old journals available. That just justified my e-reader’s existence!


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