Demise of the Starry Sky (星空之死)

by Yan An, co-translated by Chen Du and Xisheng Chen


看到星空之死的人 不论你在哪里
他都会看见你 你也是孤身一人行走
不是要寻找什么 只是在行走

他看见大地在变 大地在大地中坠落



The man having seen the demise of the starry sky
Is a man knowing when to accept or reject
A man climbing trees to look for water
A man sailing in the ocean to seek for clouds
A man embracing the dragon neck of a mountain range
To take its body temperature
He knows very well the ins and outs of many things
No matter where he is, it’s a place
As far as in the past or in a foreign land

The man having seen the demise of the starry sky
No matter where you are, he will see you
You too are walking alone
Not to seek for something but for the sake of walking
The massive wilderness and horizon
Are only the background of another person
You have no direction, but only distance,
While you become smaller and smaller
As if you were a man with an odd mind-body size
Going to meet another man with an odd mind-body size

The man having seen the demise of the starry sky
Knowing which of the many things in the world
Is more, or less, or deeper, or shallower,
Like the palm of his hand
Whom you are going to meet but not sure about
Sees earth is changing earth is plummeting in earth
He himself is plummeting in earth as well

Just like looking up at the vault of heaven
The enormous stars are thinner, tinier
And more fragile than mosquitoes and flies
In an incineration difficult to perceive and comprehend
They slowly burn down
Meanwhile plummeting towards nihility, one after another

Yan An is a poet in contemporary China, author of fourteen poetry books, including his most famous, Arranging Stones, which won him The Sixth Lu Xun Literary Prize, one of China’s top four literary prizes. He is also the Vice President of Shaanxi Writers Association, 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, and a national committee member of the Poetry Committee of China Writers Association. “Demise of The Starry Sky” is an excerpt from Yan An’s latest book, A Naturalist’s Manor, which was published by China Youth Publishing Group, and won the “Ten Best Poetry Books in China” award in 2018.

Chen Du is a Voting Member of American Translators Association and a member of the Translators Association of China. She holds a Master’s Degree in Biophysics from Roswell Park Cancer Institute, the State University of New York at Buffalo, and a Master’s Degree in Radio Physics from the Chinese Academy of Sciences. She revised more than eight chapters of the Chinese translation of the biography of Helen Snow, Helen Foster Snow – An American Woman in Revolutionary China. In the United States, her translations have appeared in Columbia Journal, Lunch Ticket, Anomaly, The Bare Life Review, and River River. Her essay was published by The Dead Mule and Hamline University English Department, where poems have also appeared. Her poetry chapbook was published by The Dead Mule online. She is also the author of the book Successful Personal Statements. Find her online at

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 University Entrance Examination of Jiangsu Province, a BA and an MA from Fudan University, in Shanghai, China, 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 a lot of translations in various fields in newspapers and journals in China and abroad.