You tell me that wisdom came so strangely,
You say it was a present brought by the river horse

From Prayer * by Wen Yiduo, 18 bSWW


I don't often ride my bike to the River Horse,
but it's usually a pleasure to go there.
It has sweet candies for me which i can eat
but which i cannot wear,
and colored socks which i can wear
but which i cannot eat.
It has new tires for me on which i can ride
but on which i cannot sleep,
and blue pajamas in which i can sleep
but in which i cannot ride.
It has old DVDs for me which i can watch
but which are not really wholesome,
and brown bread which is really wholesome
but which is not worth watching.
The River Horse has ev'rything for ev'ryone,
and seems to be pleased to see you back.
It gives me the black-and-white tire
while saying: "Eight euro, ninety-five, please".
Not at all surprised, without hesitation,
i hand the River Horse a ten-euro bill.
It gives me one euro and five cents
while saying: "Here's your change. Goodbye".
I trust the River Horse when i go shopping.
I know that it needs money to stay alive,
that it can't give things away for free.
That wisdom never came to me strangely.

[Show pronunciation]

Vincent van Mechelen    

For the twin version of this poem in Zhezhong Yuyan see Hema He Wo.
Another poem in This Language inspired by Wen Yiduo's Prayer
can be found at
*  The Putonghua word for river horse is hémǎ, in characters 河马.
In the Benelux and Germany HEMA is a large chain of department stores.

 printing this color on white 

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