Stranger Comes to Visit in a Strange Way by Yan An 

Translated by Chen Du and Xisheng Chen 

At night actually in a vaguely recalled dream 
He transplanted a leafy branchy yet not flowery white lilac
Into my balcony with a vine hanging down from a rafter
Just like a rope or a green snake
He transformed my living room with a collection of
Exquisite books and carved stone monsters into a maze
With not only glinting fireflies but also twinkling crystals

Another night actually in another slightly remembered dream
He infinitely amplified a pot of daffodil
Nurtured by me like a treasure for many years
Turned the daffodil flower into nine and then rendered
The nine incomparably gigantic buds housing sporadically
Nine immeasurably colossal dewdrops
Both the aroma of the flowers more smelly than the odor of the sea
As if artificially nurtured and the viscous viscid skein and tangle
More difficult to deal with

Than the humidity and elasticity contained in seaweed
Highlighted my minuteness like that of a Lilliputian from Lilliput
And caused me to hug the flower stem as huge as a celestial pillar
With dense knife-like prickles and bitterness
Just like an unfortunately abandoned Lilliputian from Lilliput
To fall into a little fit of melancholy yet helplessly desperate weeping
And then to be buried slowly by the water seeping out of a dewdrop
As vast as the vault of heaven

I know it is the tidings about a stranger’s upcoming visit
Or a sign that I am leaving the city to move to another place
However every time when I wake up from my high noon dream
And crane my neck to overlook outside the window
The alley where I dreamt of the lilac, maze and monstrous daffodil
Is empty without a single soul

I can’t see the stranger all the time
Not even a familiar view of his strange back
Or his silhouette flashing through the distant entrance to the alley
In a haste and abrupt manner just like a mirage



夜里 其实是在某一个隐约忆及的梦里


移植到我的阳台上 他用一根从房梁上




另一个夜里 其实是另一个隐约忆及的梦里


把水仙花由一朵变成九朵 让九个硕大无朋的花蕊中
















我梦见丁香 迷宫和巨怪水仙的巷子里却空无一人





Yan An is a prominent poet in contemporary China, Yan An is the author of fourteen poetry books, including his most famous poetry collection, Rock Arrangement,which won him The Sixth Lu Xun Literary Prize, one of China’s top four literary prizes. The winner of various national awards and prizes, he is also a Vice President of the Poetry Institute of China, a Vice President of the Shaanxi Writers Association, a member of the National Committee of China Writers Association, and the head and Executive Editor-in-Chief of the literary journal Yan River, one of the oldest and most famous literary journals in Northwestern China. In English, his poetry book, A Naturalist’s Manor, translated by Chen Du and Xisheng Chen and published by Chax Press, was shortlisted (one of four titles) for the 2022 Lucien Stryk Asian Translation Prize, administered by the American Literary Translators Association. The poems submitted to your journal are from Yan An’s most famous book, Rock Arrangement, which was published by Shaanxi Publishing & Media Group (Taibai Literary Press) in 2013. Till now, 76,000 copies of Rock Arrangement have been sold in China and the book has been printed three times in China. The first four poems and six other poems were longlisted by the 2021 John Dryden Translation Competition.

Chen Du is a voting member of the American Translators Association and an expert member of the Translators Association of China with a Master’s Degree in Biophysics from Roswell Park Cancer Institute, SUNY at Buffalo and a Master’s Degree in Radio Physics from the Chinese Academy of Sciences. In the United States and a few other Western countries, she has published 142 pieces of English translations, poems, and essays in more than forty-seven literary journals. A set of five poems from Yan An’s poetry collection Rock Arrangement which was co-translated by her and Xisheng Chen won the 2021 Zach Doss Friends in Letters Memorial Fellowship. Yan An’s poetry book, A Naturalist’s Manor, translated by her and Xisheng Chen was published by Chax Press and shortlisted (one of four titles) for the 2022 Lucien Stryk Asian Translation Prize, administered by the American Literary Translators Association. Contact her at [email protected].

Xisheng Chen, a Chinese American, is an ESL grammarian, lexicologist, linguist, translator and educator. His educational background includes: top scorer in the English subject in the National College Entrance Examination of Jiangsu Province, a BA and an MA from Fudan University, Shanghai, China (exempted from the National Graduate School Entrance Examination owing to excellent BA test scores), and a Mandarin Healthcare Interpreter Certificate from the City College of San Francisco, CA, USA. His working history includes: translator for Shanghai TV Station, Evening English News, lecturer at Jiangnan University, Wuxi, China, adjunct professor at the Departments of English and Social Sciences of Trine University (formerly Tri-State University), Angola, Indiana, notary public, and contract high-tech translator for Futurewei Technologies, Inc. in Santa Clara, California, USA. As a translator for over three decades, he has published many translations in various fields in newspapers and journals in China and abroad.