Friday, June 24, 2005

The Poetry of Bei Dao

On June 4th, 1989 protestors calling for democracy were massacred in the streets of Beijing. Poetry and literary freedom were also on trial that day. Bei Dao, author of revolutionary poetry and publisher of the literary journal Jintian [Today] has spent the last 16 years in exile, accused of "helping to incite the student revolt in Tiananmen" (Quote- China Poetry

Excerpts of several poems that were chanted by the students or used in banners follow. They are short powerful statements in and of themselves. If anyone has an online link to the full text of these poems, I'd love to have it.

The Answer

Debasement is the password of cowards,
Nobility is the epitaph of the nobleman . . .
Let me tell you, the world,
I / do / not / believe!
If a thousand challengers lie under your feet,
Count me as the thousand and first challenger.


In a time without heroes

I just wanted to be a human being

. . . I will not kneel on the ground

Allowing the executioners to look tall

The better to obscure the wind of freedom.

(From the Stanford Online Report 12/01/99)

For more information on Bei Dao and the politics of poetry see

From the Founding of Today to Today: A Reminiscence

1 comment:

H. W. Alexy said...

China's not yet finished with freedom.