Poetry Depot

December 10, 2010

A poem by Liu Xiaobo, Nobel Laureate for Peace in 2010

Filed under: chinese, chinese — Tags: , , , , , , — razvan @ 1:17 pm

The writer that caused all the stir at the Nobel Prize for Peace ceremony in 2010 is Liu Xiaobo. As he is still in jail in China for political reasons, the presence of foreign ambassadors in Oslo for the ceremony became a problem of diplomatic offence for Chinese officials. It looks like it is for the first time from 1936 when the prize is not received by the laureate or by someone from his family. Last time the laureate was living in Germany in nazi regime. According to news reports, this time the Chinese authorities placed even the wife of Liu Xiaobo under house arrest.

The Chinese reaction was not so hard to guess: “What on earth has Liu Xiaobo ever contributed to human peace?”.

China’s propaganda apparatus first put the spotlight on Liu’s allegedly treasonous views in the aftermath of the Tiananmen crackdown. Liu was jailed for his role in the student protests – and targeted for vitriolic attack by the official media. Liu, said the People’s Daily at the time, is a “traitor from head to toe.” (washingtonpost)

How can look a poem by someone that is convicted 11 years for “inciting subversion of state power”?

Longing to Escape 

for my wife
abandon the imagined martyrs
I long to lie at your feet, besides
being tied to death this is
my one duty
when the heart’s mirror-
clear, an enduring happiness
your toes will not break
a cat closes in behind
you, I want to shoo him away
as he turns his head, extends
a sharp claw toward me
deep within his blue eyes
there seems to be a prison
if I blindly step out
of with even the slightest
step I’d turn into a fish

8. 12. 1999

from Pen American Center

Liu Xiaobo is a political activist, university lecturer and author who has fought for a more democratic and open China for more than 20 years. His poetry collection was acquired by Graywolf editor Jeffrey Shotts (more…)

December 2, 2010

Something classical & capigraphical

Filed under: chinese — Tags: , , , , — razvan @ 5:46 pm

Xianyu Shu (1256 – 1322)
Poem by Su Shixianyushu.gif

There are all kinds of trees around my home. One tree that is out of the ordinary is crab-apple, who stands quietly by the bamboo fence, to whose elegance peaches and plums pale into insignificance.

from this history of caligraphy

Wang Xizhi (303 – 361)
Preface to the Poems Composed at Orchid Pavilion, 353
Tracing copy on rice paper, Tang
Palace Museum, Beijing

Wang Xizhi was born in a prominent family of state officials, most of whom were also accomplished calligraphers. As a child he was tutored by Wei Shuo, a famed female calligrapher who recognized her student’s extraordinary ability to imitate a style at first glance. As a young man Wang traveled famous mountains in the north, where he admired and imitated the writings inscribed on stones by old masters. He studied long and hard, and ultimately developed his own calligraphic style, an achievement by which he reached a position in Chinese calligraphy comparable to that of Confucius in Chinese philosophy. He wrote this work during a gathering of his celebrity friends.

On this late spring day, the ninth year of Yonghe (353 AD), we gathered at Orchid Pavilion in Shaoxing to observe Water Festival. High mountains and luxuriant bamboo groves lie in the back; a limpid, swift stream gurgles around. We sat by the water, sharing the wine from a floating goblet while chanting poems, which gave us delight in spite of the absence of musical accompaniment. This is a sunny day with a capful valley breeze. Spreading before the eye is the beauty of nature, and hanging high is the immeasurable universe. This is perfect for an aspired mind.

Though born with different personalities – some give vent to their sentiment in a quiet chat while others repose their aspiration in Bohemianism – people find pleasure in what they pursue and never feel tired of it. Sometimes they pause to recall the days lapsed away. Realizing that what fascinated yesterday is a mere memory today, not to mention that everyone will return to nothingness, an unsuppressible sorrow would well up. Isn’t it sad to think of it?

I am often moved by ancients’ sentimental lines which lamented the swiftness and uncertainty of life. Since the nature of man remains the same regardless of the change of times, later generations will probably feel the same when they read these poems. This gives comfort.

from here

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