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 Ai Qing Selected poems

Ai Qing
The Black Eel. Trs. Yang Xianyi and Robert Friend. Beijing: Panda, 1982.

"The Cicada's Song." In Hualing Nieh (ed. and co-trans.), Literature of the Hundred Flowers, Volume II: Poetry and Fiction. NY: Columbia University Press, 1981, 274-76.

"Daiyanhe--My Wet Nurse."

"Expectation." Chinese Literature website.

"Figure Skating." Chinese Literature website.

"The Gardener's Dream." Literature of the Hundred Flowers, Volume II: Poetry and Fiction. NY: Columbia University Press, 1981, 276-77.

"A Girl Taking Aim." Chinese Literature website. [originally published in Chinese Literature 1 (1982).

"The Hunter Who Drew His Birds." Literature of the Hundred Flowers, Volume II: Poetry and Fiction. NY: Columbia University Press, 1981, 273-74.

"In Your Dream." Chinese Literature website. [originally published in Chinese Literature 1 (1982)]

"The Land Reborn." Tr. Eugene Chen Eoyang. Chinese Literature (Summer 1997).

"Marx's Old House." Chinese Literature website. [originally published in Chinese Literature 12 (1979)]

"Munich." Chinese Literature website. [originally published in Chinese Literature 12 (1979)]

"The Pen." Chinese Literature website. [originally published in Chinese Literature 1 (1984)]

"A Reef." Tr. Eugene Chen Eoyang. Chinese Literature (Summer 1997).

Selected Poems of Ai Qing. Tr. Eugene Eoyang. Bloomington: University of Indiana Press, 1982.

"The Site of the Ancient City of Jiaohe." Chinese Literature website. [originally published in Chinese Literature 1 (1984)]

"Snake." Chinese Literature website. [originally published in Chinese Literature 1 (1982)]

"To Zhang Dedi, Sculpturess." Chinese Literature website. [originally published in Chinese Literature 1(1984]

"A Toast." Tr. Eugene Chen Eoyang. Chinese Literature (Summer 1997).

"The Wall." Chinese Literature website. [originally published in Chinese Literature 12 (1979)]

Poems in: Anthology of Chinese Literature Vol. II. Ed. Cyril Birch, NY: Grove Press, 1972, p. 362.; Chinese Literature 1979: 6; Contemporary Chinese Poetry. Ed. Robert Payne. London: Routledge, 1947; Modern Chinese Poetry: An Introduction. Ed. Julia Lin. London: George Allen and Unwin, 1972, p. 173; The People Speak Out: Translations of Poems and Songs of the People of China. Ed. Rewi Alley. Beijing: FLP, 1982; Twentieth Century Chinese Poetry: An Anthology. Ed. Kai-yu Hsu. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1963, 274-99.

  
  
  

 
 
顶端 Posted: 2009-02-11 15:40 | [楼 主]
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Snow Falls on the Chinese Land
By Ai Qing

Snow falls on the Chinese land:
Cold blockades China....

Like an old woman with many grievances, the wind
Closely follows behind,
Stretches out her claws,
Tugs at clothes of passing people,
Her words as old as the earth,
Complaining, never ceasing....
From the woods,
Driving their carts,
Come the peasants of China,
Wearing their fur caps,
Braving the snow -- Where do they want to go?

I tell you, I too
Am a descendant of peasants.
From your carved face
So deeply etched with pain,
I can understand,
Understand so profoundly,
The hard years
Of people living on the plains.
No, I am not happier than you.
Lying in the river of time,
Often the waves of woe
Have entirely submerged me.
In wandering and in prison cells
I spent my very precious youth,
My life
Like yours
Has been seared.

Snow falls on the Chinese land:
Cold blockades China....

Along the river in a snowy night
A small oil lamp drifts slowly
In a decrepit boat with a black cover.
Who sits there,
Facing the lamp and hanging her head?

O you
Dishevelled and dirty-faced young woman,
Is it that your warm house,
A warm and happy nest,
Has been burnt out by the invader?
Is it that on a night like this
You lost your husband's protection
And in terror of death were tortured
And humiliated by the enemy's bayonets?

On such a cold night as this
Numerous old mothers
Crouch in homes not theirs,
Like strangers
Not knowing
Where tomorrow's wheels will take them....
The roads of China
Are so rugged
And muddy.

Snow falls on the Chinese land:
Cold blockades China....

Throughout the snowy plains in the long night
Are lands bitten by the beacons of war.
Countless toilers on the land
Have lost the cattle they fed,
Have lost their fertile fields
And are crowded together
In the dirty lanes of despair.
Facing the dark sky,
The hungry land holds out shivering hands
Begging for succour.

The pain and agony of China
Are as wide and long as this snowy night.

Snow falls on the Chinese land:
Cold blockades China....

O China,
On this lampless night,
Can my weak lines
Give you a little warmth?

At night, December 28, 1937

Originally published in a Panda book by Chinese Literature Press
  
  
  

 
 
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The Woman Mending Clothes
By Ai Qing

The woman mending clothes sits by the roadside.
When people pass by
Dust rises up,
Dust coats her kerchief,
Dust greys her clothes.

Her baby begins crying,
The child's tears are dried by the sun;
She does not notice.
Silently she thinks of her home,
Its shelter destroyed by gunfire.
Silently she mends clothes for people,
And lets her child's eyes,
Those poor reddened eyes,
Stare at the empty basket.

The woman mending clothes sits by the roadside.
The road stretches away endlessly.
She mends socks for some passerby,
And the passerby goes on.

Originally published in Chinese Literature magazine (No. 6, 1979)


Harness Shop
By Ai Qing

A harness shop is open on the street
Selling the wisdom of humankind.

"Shopkeeper,
I want a whip."

"You can pick and choose:
This is for beating donkeys
This for beating horses
This with a short handle and long lash
For beating camels."

What a great variety
How colourful they look -
All are beautiful.

"Over there are bridles, yokes
That is a bit - for clamping a horse's teeth
Those are horseshoes - for protecting the hooves."

There are also reins
Reins made of hemp
Reins made of palm fibre
Reins dyed in colours.

"Those are stirrups - for mounting the horse
Those are copper bells - for camels crossing the desert
Those are bags - for pack donkeys, poor donkeys."

There are also saddles
Saddles made of ox hide
Saddles painted with red lacquer
Saddles inlaid with brass and bronze.

"These are coloured fringes
These are whisks of horsehair
These are red tassels of rhinoceros hair
And here are pieces of embroidered saddle cloth -
All these
Make the animals look lovely...."

What a great variety
How colourful they look -
All are beautiful.

This is more hypocritical than conjuring
Craftier than religion
Crueller than massacres
Bolder than laws
A harness shop is open on the street
Selling the wisdom of humankind.

1940

Originally published in Chinese Literature magazine (No. 1, 1984)
  
  
  

 
 
顶端 Posted: 2009-02-11 15:42 | 2 楼
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A Young Man's Departure
By Ai Qing

Like a canoe, still smelling of the fragrance of wood,
That leaves a small, desert island,
An enthusiastic and melancholy young man
Has left his small village.

I don't like that village -
As ordinary as a banyan tree
As clumsy as buffalo -
Where I spent my childhood.

To those people more stupid than I who jeered at me,
I said nothing about the desire hidden in my heart.
I want to leave and experience more than they,
I want to go far away - to a place I've never dreamed of.

There it is far better than here,
People are living like immortals.
There is no heartbreaking pounding of mortar and pestle,*
No repugnant faces of monks and witches.

* Used to husk rice.

Father has counted his silver dollars five by five.
He gives them to me wrapped in red paper and lectures me.
But my mind is full of other things,
Looking forward to the harbour shining with dazzling light.

Why do you make such noise, you garrulous sparrows?
Don't you know that I'm leaving?
And you, honest hired hands of my family,
Why are there always sad looks on your faces?

The morning sun casts its rays on the flagged road,
I feel a deep pity for my village.
Like a decrepit old man,
It stands at the foot of Double Top Mountain.

Goodbye, my impoverished village!
Hurry back, my old dog!
May Double Top Mountain bless all of you,
I'll come back to you when I am old....

1945

Originally published in Chinese Literature magazine (No. 1, 1984)
  
  
  

 
 
顶端 Posted: 2009-02-11 15:43 | 3 楼
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The Announcement of the Dawn
By Ai Qing

For my sake,
Poet, arise.

And please tell them
That what they wait for is coming.

Tell them I have come, treading the dew,
Guided by the light of the last star.

I come out of the east,
From the sea of billowing waves.

I shall bring light to the world,
Carry warmth to humankind.

Poet, through the lips of a good man,
Please bring them the message.

Tell those whose eyes smart with longing,
Those distant cities and villages steeped in sorrow.

Let them welcome me,
The harbinger of day, messenger of light.

Open every window to welcome me,
Open all the gates to welcome me.

Please blow every whistle in welcome,
Sound every trumpet in welcome.

Let street-cleaners sweep the streets clean,
Let trucks come to remove the garbage,

Let the workers walk on the streets with big strides,
Let the trams pass the squares in splendid procession.

Let the villages wake up in the damp mist,
And open their gates to welcome me,

Let village women release their chicks from the coops,
Let the peasants bring out their cattle from the sheds.

Poet, announce to them through your passionate lips,
That I am coming from beyond the woods and mountains.

Let them sweep clean their threshing floors
And those always-dirty courtyards,

Let them open those windows pasted with coloured paper,
Let them open those doors pasted with spring couplets.

Please wake up those industrious women,
And those snoring men,

Let young lovers get up too,
And young girls fond of sleeping.

Wake up those mothers who are tired,
And the babies sleeping beside them.

Please wake up every one,
Even the invalid and the pregnant,

Even the infirm with age,
Those groaning in their beds,

Even those wounded in the just war,
And refugees from homes burnt by the enemy.

Please awaken all the miserable people,
I shall give them all comfort.

Please awaken all those who love life.
Workers, engineers and artists.

Let singers come singing to welcome me
With voices savouring of the grass and dew,

Let dancers come dancing to welcome me
Clad in the white mist of the morning.

Let all those who are healthy and beautiful awake,
Tell them that I am coming to knock on their windows.

You, poet, who are loyal to time,
Please bring humanity the news of comfort.

Let all people prepare to welcome me,
I shall come when the cock crows for the last time.

Let them look at the horizon with reverent eyes,
I shall give all those awaiting me the kindest light.

Poet, as night is nearly over, please tell them
That what they have been waiting for is coming.

1942

Originally published in Chinese Literature magazine (No. 6, 1979)
  
  
  

 
 
顶端 Posted: 2009-02-11 15:43 | 4 楼
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Fossil
By Ai Qing

With such agility in your movements,
Such buoyancy in your strength,
You leaped in the foam
And swam in the sea.

Unfortunately a volcano's eruption
Or perhaps an earthquake
Cost you your freedom
And buried you in the silt.

After millions of years
Members of a geological team
Found you in a layer of rock
And you still look alive.

But you are now silent,
Without even sight.
Your scales and fins are whole
But you cannot move.

So absolutely motionless,
You have no reaction to the world.
You cannot see the water or the sky,
You cannot hear the sound of the waves.

Gazing at this fossil,
Even a fool can learn a lot:
Without movement
There is no life.

To live is to struggle
And advance in the struggle;
Even if death is inevitable.
We should use our energy to the fullest.

1978
  
  
  

 
 
顶端 Posted: 2009-02-11 15:43 | 5 楼
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The Umbrella
By Ai Qing

In the morning I ask the umbrella,
"Do you prefer being baked in the sun,
Or being drenched by the rain?"

The umbrella smiles. It says,
"This is not what I worry about."

I persist in my question:
"Then what are you worrying about?"

The umbrella says,
"What worries me is this:
In the rain I mustn't let people's clothes get wet;
In the sun I must serve as a cloud overhead."

1978
  
  
  

 
 
顶端 Posted: 2009-02-11 15:44 | 6 楼
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In Praise of Light (abridged)
By Ai Qing

1

Each man in his life,
Whether clever or slow-witted,
Whether lucky or unlucky,
When he leaves his mother's womb
Follows the light with his eyes.

A world without light
Would be like man without eyes,
A ship without a compass,
A gun without the sights;
Then how to know there's a snake by the roadside
Or a trap has been laid ahead?

If there were no light in the world,
There would be no spring with its willow catkins,
No summer with its blossoming flowers,
No autumn with its golden fruit,
No winter with its flying snow.

If there were no light in the world,
We could not see the turbulent rivers,
The vast forests, raging seas, snowy mountains.
If we could see nothing of these,
What interest would we have in the world?

2

It is only because there is light
That our world with all its myriad things
Becomes colourful and magnificent
And our society appears so splendid.

The light gives us wisdom,
The light gives us imagination,
The light gives us enthusiasm,
With which we can create immortal images.

How awe-inspiring such works of architecture,
Revealing more splendour within!
How moving those poems,
Bringing tears to people's eyes!

Those wonderful sculptors
Giving warmth to the cold marble!
Those brilliant painters
Depicting alluring eyes that speak to you!

Dances with feet lighter than the wind,
Songs with voices clearer than the pearl,
Fiery warmth, loyalty hard as crystal --
All art becomes lifeless without the light.

How beautiful the camp fires on the plain,
How beautiful the lighthouse near the harbour,
How beautiful the stars of a summer night,
How beautiful the fireworks in a celebration! --
But all these beautiful things depend on the light.

3

What a wonderful thing light is!
It is weightless but bright as gold,
Can be seen but cannot be grasped,
Goes everywhere in the world but has no form;
Wise and modest, it abides always with beauty.

It is created through clashes and friction,
Born in the process of burning and extinguishing;
It comes from fire, comes from electricity,
Comes from the eternally burning sun.

Ah sun, the greatest source of our light!
From outer space billions of miles high
It sends warmth to where we live,
So that all things grow in this world.
All creatures worship it
Because it is the light that never fades.

Light is truly unfathomable,
It is not solid, not liquid, not gas,
Comes and goes without trace, illimitable.
Makes no noise, settles anywhere,
Is powerful without showing its strength,
It is silent dignity.

It is great being,
Rich and benevolent,
Broad-minded and frank, Gives without expecting reward;
Selfless, it shines in every direction.

4

But there are creatures that fear the light,
Creatures that nurse hatred of the light,
Because the rays of the light
Hurt their selfish eyes.

All the tyrants in history,
All the evil ministers of past dynasties,
All the avaricious and corrupt people,
Have tried to imprison the light
Because light awakens the people
And exposes thieves of others' wealth.

All those who oppress others
Want the people to remain powerless,
Never dare to utter a sound,
So that they can rule as gods.

All those who exploit others
Want the people to remain ignorant,
So ignorant that they cannot count,
Cannot even work out one plus one.

Persons like this only want slaves,
They want tools that can speak,
They want only tamed animals.
They are afraid of men with ideas.

So they want to extinguish the fire,
And in the boundless darkness
Of their castles built of stone
Try to keep their despotic reigns for ever.

Sitting on the throne of authority,
Medals in one hand, whips in the other,
Money on one side, chains on the other,
They make contemptible political bargains,
Holding devils' dances
And feasting on human flesh and blood.

The history of men has seen so many generations
Immersed in the depths of woe,
In darkness as solid as granite.
Yet there have been many brave men
Who have used their heads
To knock down the iron gates of hell.

Glory to those who have dared to revolt!
Glory to those who have kept to the struggle!
In the storm, the thunder cracks louder than ever,
In the dark, lightning flashes brighter than ever,
From the long, dark night
The fiery sun emerges.

......

7

Each of us possesses one life,
A speck of cosmic dust in the nebulae of the universe,
But each speck possesses its own strength,
Together all these specks produce the light;
Each one is independent,
Yet also shines on the others;
In the light it revolves ceaselessly
Together with the earth in the universe.

We burn as we revolve,
Our life is the burning process.
We in our own years
Should be like fireworks at a festival
Shooting up to the sky with a cry of joy,
Then exploding with a dazzling light.

Even if we are a small candle,
We should burn to the last bit;
Even if we are a match,
We should flare at the crucial moment;
Even if our bones have rotted after we die,
We should burn on as the will-o'-the-wisp.

8

Even if our life is as brief as the dew,
Even if we are a grain of sand on the Ganges,
We can bring out light greater than our own body.
As an insignificant person,
A speck of dust among astronomical numbers,
I have sung with my hoarse voice
Of freedom in days when we had no freedom,
Of liberation when we were an oppressed nation.

In this vast world
I have sung for those who were humiliated,
For those who were oppressed;
I have sung of resistance, of revolution,
In the dark night placing my hope in the dawn,
I am just a spark in this conflagration
In the joy of victory singing of the sun.

While the flames of my life are not yet extinguished
I have joined the contingents of fire and light,
Amalgamating the "one" with the "infinite,"
Fighting for the truth.
Advancing together with those marching in struggle,
I shall always sing of the light.
The light belongs to the people,
All wealth belongs to the people,
The future belongs to the people.

Advancing together with the light,
Winning victory together with the light,
Victory belongs to the people.
When we are with the people, we are invincible.

9

Our forbears are glorious,
They have blazed the path for us,
Leaving deep footprints along the road
With bloodstains in them.
Now we are beginning a new Long March, 02 Not just a distance of eight thousand miles,
Not just crossing the mountains of the southwest
Or climbing snowcapped peaks in the northwest,
Not forcing our way across the Jinsha and Dadu rivers;
We are forcing a path through more dangerous obstacles,
In our advance will be worse storms, more glaciers....

But the light is beckoning us onward,
Urging us, exhorting us, encouraging us.
The light has brought us to the dawn of a new age,
Now our people are advancing bravely on all fronts.

Let faith and courage go with us,
We are armed with the finest ideals,
And, together with the most advanced class,
Our hearts are burning with hope,
The path before us is strewn with sunshine.

Let each day of our days
Revolve fast like the fastest of wheels,
Let our lives give the fullest of our potential,
Let us be like the force liberated from the nucleus,
Spreading the wings of light to the furthest,
Soaring high into infinite space.

Let us soar high with the greatest speed,
Let us soar high with indomitable spirit,
Let us advance from today into tomorrow,
Let us consider each day a new starting point.

Perhaps some day a time will come
When we, this ancient nation,
We, this most courageous class,
Will accept Light's invitation
To knock at gates now firmly closed,
To visit all our neighbours.

Let us start from the earth --
And soar towards the sun.

August to December, 1978
  
  
  

 
 
顶端 Posted: 2009-02-11 15:44 | 7 楼
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How the East Glows Red
By Ai Qing

Have you ever seen the sunrise?
Do you know how the east glows red?

I've never been on Taishan Mountain
I've never been on Huangshan Mountain
But I've seen the sunrise
I saw it myself
More beautiful than in legends

Before the sunrise
The sky is dark
The earth is dark too
Dark as the vision of a blind man
So dark that nothing can be seen

In this great darkness
Stifling darkness
Like an autumn night
When you hear
The chirp of thousands of insects

As if the earth is sobbing
As if the forest is wailing
As if rivers are whimpering
As if struggling
To overthrow the rule of darkness
Groaning in the struggle

Like a woman in labour
Moaning plaintively

The darkness is ruthless
Like a rocky mountain weighing down
Cruelly dominating the world

The earth seems to stop revolving
Time seems to stop beating
Night seems to be boundless
So long without end

Perhaps time has died
Perhaps longer than death
So long that one almost despairs

The confident are fortunate
Time hasn't died yet
How can time die?
Time is twisting slightly
I seem to hear it ringing in my ears

From beyond the earth
From far away
From the invisible fringe
Comes the rumble of a speeding train

After a long time
There appears on the horizon a ray of light
There appears a trembling ray

A ray vibrating with sound
A ray with its centre expanding
A ray with growing sound

That is the dawn!

That is the reliable dawn
The dawn that everybody is expecting
The dawn that everybody has anxiously been awaiting

The sky and earth separate from each other
As if split asunder
The sky is deep blue
The earth dark brown

Between sky and earth
Is a pulsating red arc
Like a carp that has leapt out of water
Like a sickle-shaped razor stained with blood
The razor keeps moving upward
Until it leaves the earth
Becoming a huge
Crimson circle

The sun has risen!
The sun has risen!

It has come out at last
Shedding rays everywhere
A burning fireball
A round ball with boiling flames
A crimson ball like a fluttering battle flag

The moment it comes out
With a triumphant smile
It dispels the darkness

It casts its rays
All over the earth
Even the vault of heaven turns bright
All earthly things revive
Everything that moved in darkness
Quickly vanishes into the void

At this moment
The waves on the sea sing praises
Rising upwards to that fireball
Forests on lofty mountains
Applaud in welcome
The whole world
Is like thousands of keys being played
To accompany a cantata
In an unparalleled majestic manner
The fireball rises slowly

Thereupon
The world, full of calamities
Begins to sing a simple song of praise

Thereupon
In our capital
At Beijing Railway Station
In the Telephone and Telegram Building
Over the Radio Station
At the same time
Resounds the same melody

Thereupon
In Tianjin
In Shanghai
In Wuhan
In Guangzhou
In the cities and villages throughout the country
At the same time
Resounds the echo of the same melody....

Written on December 23, 1978
Copied in early June, 1981
  
  
  

 
 
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Expectation
By Aiqing

A sailor says,
He likes best the vast white foam
Churned up when weighing anchor....
Another sailor says,
He enjoys most the rattling noise of chains
Produced when casting anchor....

One is longing to set off
The other to arrive.

March 1979 in Shanghai
  
  
  

 
 
顶端 Posted: 2009-02-11 15:45 | 9 楼
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