Poem introduction

'Dreaming in the Shanghai Restaurant' - I should perhaps say the restaurant wasn't in Shanghai nor indeed in any other part of China but in Singapore.

Dreaming in the Shanghai Restaurant

Dreaming in the Shanghai Restaurant

I would like to be that elderly Chinese gentleman.
He wears a gold watch with a gold bracelet,
but a shirt without sleeves or tie.
He has good luck moles on his face, but is not
disfigured with fortune.
His wife resembles him, but is still a handsome woman,
She has never bound her feet or her belly.
Some of the party are his children, it seems,
And some his grandchildren;
No generation appears to intimidate another.
He is interested in people, without wanting to
convert them or pervert them.
He eats with gusto, but not with lust;
And he drinks, but is not drunk.
He is content with his age, which has always suited him.
When he discusses a dish with the pretty waitress,
It is the dish he discusses, not the waitress.
The tablecloth is not so clean as to show indifference,
Not so dirty as to signfiy a lack of manners.
He proposes to pay the bill but knows he will not be
allowed to.
He walks to the door like a man who doesn't fret
about being respected, since he is;
A daughter or granddaughter opens the door for him,
And he thanks her.
It has been a satisfying evening. Tomorrow
Will be a satisfying morning. In between
he will sleep satisfactorily.
I guess that for him it is peace in his time.
It would be agreeable to be this Chinese gentleman.

from Collected Poems (Carcanet, 1999), copyright © D. J. Enright 1999, used by permission of the author's estate and the publisher.

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1Paradise Illustrated: A Sequence

2History of World Languages

3Since Then

4The Noodle-Vendor's Flute

5Dreaming in the Shanghai Restaurant

6Displaced Person Looks at a Cage-Bird

7The Poor Wake Up Quickly

8In Memoriam

9Board of Selection

10Combat Camera

11R-and-R Centre: An Incident from the Vietnam War

12A Liberal Lost

13Seminar on contemporary Chinese writing

14Don't smile please

15All the things

16City sorrows


18Poetical Justice

19A Memory

20Filling in a hospital registration form

21Postoperative muzziness

22Night in Bay 3

23Through the window

24Warnings, warnings!

Books by D. J. Enright