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 Magnificent Poems That Inspire Us in Battle— Studying Chairman Mao's two poems

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Magnificent Poems That Inspire Us in Battle

— Studying Chairman Mao's two poems
by Yuan Shui-po


Source: Peking Review, No. 2, January 9, 1976
Transcribed by www.wengewang.org



THE publication of Chairman Men's two poems "Chingkangshan Revisited — to the tone of Shui Tiao Keh Tou" and "Two Birds; A Dialogue — to the tune of Nien Nu Chiao" at a tone when the people of the whole country are striding with revolutionary vigour into another militant spring is of immense joy to China’s cultural circles. It is also a momentous event in the political life of the Chinese people.
   These two poems, written in a pithy style and with lively imageries in 1965, epitomize the excellent situation in the Chinese revolution and the world revolution. With profound feeling they pay tribute to the indomitable revolutionary spirit of the Chinese proletariat and revolutionary people and eloquently point out to the whole world the truth that Marxism will surely triumph over revisionism and the revolutionary people will sweep away all pests. Integrating revolutionary lyricism with the epic style, the two poems are at once a song of victory and a clarion call to continue the revolution. They are a tremendous inspiration to the Chinese people to closely follow the leadership of the Party Central Committee headed by Chairman Mao, take class struggle as the key link, persist in continuing the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat, go on consolidating and developing the achievements of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, oppose restoration and retrogression, build China into a modern and strong socialist state and struggle for the lofty cause of communism.
   These two poems are splendid examples of integration of revolutionary realism with revolutionary romanticism. The theme in both, whether in singing the praises of the people or hurling sarcasms at the enemy, is the same: strategically, the enemy is nothing to be afraid of and difficulties are not to be feared. As Chairman Mao has taught us: "Even great storms arc not to be feared. It is amid great storms that human society progresses." (Speech at the Chinese Communist Party's National Conference on Propaganda Work.) Armed with Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought, the revolutionary people will overcome every obstacle, turn the old world "upside down" and scale the heights of the great revolutionary cause of the proletariat.
"Chingkangshan Revisited — to the tone of Shui Tiao Keh Tou,"  written in a leisurely and flowing style, depicts the fulgent splendour of the cradle of the Chinese revolution —Ghingkangshan*— today, and extols the socialist revolution and construction in this old revolutionary base area. Tie dismal darkness of the old China has been banished and in its place is a luxuriant and vibrant scene where "orioles sing, swallows swirl, streams purl everywhere and the road mounts skyward." Isn't this exactly a miniature of our socialist motherland? From these resplendent lines we can feel keenly the elation of our great leader Chairman Mao who returned "from afar to climb Chingkangshan, our old haunt" after a lapse of 38 years.
   "And the road mounts skyward." This line depicts the landscape, but the metaphorie imagery calls to our mind the revolutionary road of Chingkangshan which led to the Chinese people's liberation. "Past scenes are transformed." Victory has been won under the guidance of Chairman Mao's revolutionary line. A correct line emerges and develops through continuous struggle against erroneous lines. Chairman Mao revisited Chingkangshan in 1965. Thirty-eight years before that, the revolutionary war led by the Chinese Communist Party met with defeat in 1927. after which Chairman Mao liquidated the Right opportunist line of Chen Tu-hsiu and mapped out the road of agrarian revolution and armed struggle, thereby saving the Chinese revolution from the dire predicament brought about by the capitulationists. The armed workers and peasants raised aloft the red banner of an armed independent regime of workers and peasants and marched up Chingkangshan. Later, Chairman Mao fought the "Left” putschism of Chu Chiu-pai and the capitulationist ideas of Lin Piao who was seized with pessimism and despair for the future of the revolution. The enemy's repeated campaigns of "encirclement and suppression" were smashed and the first rural revolutionary base area was firmly established. Chingkangshan was the important starting point of the Chinese revolution and the Chingkangshan road is the road to the Victory of the Chinese revolution. The road of integrating the universal truth of Marxism-Leninism with concrete revolutionary practice, as pointed out by Chairman Mao, is a ladder that pierces through fogs and cloud*, mounts skyward and leads to victory in the revolution.
 "Once Huangyangchieh is passed, no other perilous place calls for a glance." Again this is about the landscape, and the landscape evokes memories of the past. It is a fusion of feelings with the natural setting. Depiction of the immediate scene embodies ideas of far-reaching significance. More than 30 years ago Chairman Mao wrote "Chingkangshan — to the melody Hsi Chiang Yueh" extolling the battle fought at Huangyangchieh. Over 30 years later, Chairman Mao again mentions Huangyangchieh in his "Chingkangshan Revisited," stressing once more the historic significance of the battle to defend this pass. In the autumn of 1928 the Kuomintang reactionaries tried to destroy at one blow our Chingkangshan base area. Under the guidance of Chairman Mao's revolutionary line, the young Workers' and Peasants' Red Army, fighting with a force of less than one battalion, hurled back the enemy units from Hunan and Kiangsi, achieving the miracle of defeating a numerically superior and powerful enemy with a small and weak force. The line "No other perilous place calls for a glance” points to the fact that Huangyangchieh is the most perilous and crucial of the five passes on the Chingkang Mountains and that once it is passed, no other place calls for a glance. This line also signifies that the Chinese proletariat and revolutionary people who have withstood such severe tests as the battle at Huangyangchieh and who have been tempered in revolutionary storms over the past few decades will never be cowed by arty hardship or peril. These majestic and powerful lines are an apt description of the revolutionary optimism of the proletariat who slights all difficulties and despises all enemies, and an expression of the heroic spirit of the proletariat determined to vanquish all enemies and never to yield.
   "Wind and thunder arc stirring, flags and banners are flying wherever men live." Looking afar from the top of the Lohsiao mountain range, one saw a forest of flags and banners fluttering in the wind and thunderstorm. At that time the Red Army had only a force of less than four regiments in the Chingkang Mountains and the local population was only 2,000. The stark fact was the enemy was stronger than we. But the newborn revolutionary force which represented China's future was full of vitality and no reactionaries could vanquish it. A single spark can start a prairie fire. The revolution finally won victory. "Thirty-eight years are fled with a mere snap of the fingers." In the long history of mankind, 38 years is just a twinkling of the eye; but the revolutionary people, once they grasp the truth of Marxism and have a correct line, they can work wonders. Events between the establishment of the first revolutionary base area in the Chingkang Mountains and the founding of the People's Republic of China and. indeed, the entire history of the new-democratic revolution and the socialist revolution, have fully testified to this great truth. "We con clasp the moon in the Ninth Heaven and seize turtles deep down in the Five Seas." It was with such magnificent spirit and powerful words that Chairman Mao depicted the lofty aspirations of the Chinese proletariat. In the more than two decades since the founding of New China, we have smashed blockades and subversive conspiracies by imperialism and social-imperialism and we have gone through four major two-line struggles and transformed a poor and backward country into a socialist state with initial prosperity- And in another 20 years or so, we will certainly frustrate resistance and sabotage by any enemy, triumph over revisionism and build China into a modern and powerful socialist country and, thenceforth, forge ahead on the road of continued revolution. "Nothing is hard in this world if you dare to scale the heights." Like music that is full of vigour, these two concluding lines impart to us inexhaustible strength. The Chinese revolution has already won great victories but the road ahead is even longer and the tasks more arduous and greater. As long as we adhere to the Party's basic line, carry forward the dauntless revolutionary spirit, dare to fight all class enemies at home and abroad and know how to fight them, we can certainly surmount every difficulty and interference, and continuously push forward the revolutionary cause of the proletariat.
   "Two Birds: A Dialogue — to the tune of Nien Nu Chiao" was written in the autumn of 1965. That was a year after the downfall of Khrushchov, and his successors Brezhnev and company have since been carrying on and developing his revisionist line. It was at this important hour when the international communist movement needed most to persevere in the struggle against revisionism that Chairman Mao wrote this poem. A unique artistic epitome and graphic summing-up of the great polemic between Marxism and revisionism in the contemporary era, this poem forcefully exposes the feebleness of modern revisionism and portrays with great vividness the image of the new tsars as mere paper tigers. In popular language and easy to understand because of its colloquialism, the poem is full of humour. As Engels put it, to conduct a fight with a sense of humour "is the best proof of how sure they [the workers] are of their cause, and how conscious of their superiority." (''Prefatory Note to the Peasant War in Germany.")
 The dialogue between the roc and the sparrow is adapted from the fable entitled "Hsiao Yao Yu" in Chuang Tzu.** Chairman Mao gave a recast of this ancient fable and enriched it with the important theme of the contemporary struggle against-revisionism. Here the roc personifies the Marxists and the sparrow in the bush refers to the Soviet revisionist renegade clique.
 The first stanza of the poem describes the entirely different outlooks of the roc and the sparrow on the world as it is today. In fact, the contrast between two typical images here is a contrast between two classes, two lines and two world outlooks. "The roc wings fan-wise, soaring ninety thousand li and rousing a raging cyclone." This gives a very vivid picture of the militancy and grandeur of the roc spreading its wings in the teeth of a storm. "The blue sky on his back, he looks down to survey man's world with its towns and cities." This speaks of an excellent world situation in which the seas are rising and the continents are rocking as the people's revolution and national-liberation wars, co-ordinating with each other, surge forward wave upon wave. Scared out of its wits by the excellent revolutionary situation in which "gunfire licks the heavens" and "shells pit the earth," the sparrow in his bush mumbles and sputters in great panic. Revolution, which is a grand festival so far as the people are concerned, is "one hell of a mess" and a disaster to the revisionist overlords. Thus these lines have thoroughly exposed the feeble nature and reactionary stand of these creatures who are afraid of and hostile to the people's revolution and national-liberation wars.
   The second and last stanza of the poem exposes the hypocrisy of the Soviet revisionist renegade clique in talking pompously about "a world without arms, without troops and without wars'1 and in mouthing pseudo-communism. The sparrow cries: "I want to flit and fly away." But where? "To a jewelled palace in elf-land's hills," a most wonderful place, it is said. But all this is baloney. "Don't you know a triple pact was signed under the bright autumn moon two years ago?" This refers to the so-called partial nuclear lest ban treaty the Soviet revisionists concluded with the United States and Britain in 1963. A treaty of this kind, to all intents and purposes, was a fraud perpetrated by the men in the Kremlin to betray the interests of the Soviet people and the people of the world at large: it was also a manifestation showing how they and the imperialists deceive, blackmail and contend with each other overtly and covertly. While paying lip service to "disarmament" every day, they are actually engaged in arms expansion. In spite of the fact that the Soviet Union and the United States have produced more agreements on nuclear weapons limitation following the signing of the "triple pact," they have since engaged in a nuclear race that has become more intensified with each passing day, and there are endless scandals about how each is trying to pull the other's leg. The lie about "a world without arms, without troops and without wars" can in no way cover up the expansionist nature of the Soviet revisionists. Their effort to create the false phenomenon of a "lasting peace” is actually meant to serve their purpose of seizing world hegemony and building a big colonial empire of the new tsars.
   As to the "appetizing dish of goulash," it is no more than a dud cheque signed by Khrushchov to fool the people. Khrushchov never made good his promise and only made himself a laughingstock in history; this is still of practical significance today. Since Brezhnev took office, he has proved himself an equal to his predecessor, with the result that the economy in the Soviet Union is now a mess, the agricultural crisis is worse than ever and news of crop failures keeps pouring in. The rank-and-file office workers and students in the cities, to keep their body and soul together, have found it necessary to go to the countryside to look for even the tiniest pieces of potatoes, and little children are forced to glean the "badly needed grain" left in the fields. Meanwhile, a handful of bourgeois elements are living in extravagance and dissipation with, of course, more beef than they can consume. And the broad masses, by contrast,, are Leading a most miserable life and becoming increasingly impoverished with each passing day, and do not even have potatoes at their meals! If one takes note of the polarization between the rich and the poor in the present-day Soviet Union, it is clear that to advertise "goulash communism" is, to put it bluntly, merely an attempt to cover up the sanguinary fascist dictatorship of the bourgeoisie.
 The famous Tang Dynasty poet Pai Chu-yi (772-846) wrote: "It is said the elf land's hills are in the seas, the hills are somewhere in the misty void." This is a good description of "the world without arms, without troops and without wars" and "goulash communism" trumpeted by the Soviet revisionist renegade clique. But they are all windy nonsense. Chairman Mao has often taught us that we are still living in the era of imperialism and proletarian revolution. "Look you, the world is being turned upside down." Countries want independence, nations want liberation and the people want revolution — this has become an irresistible historical trend. The factors for both revolution and war are clearly increasing. Whether war gives rise to revolution or revolution prevents war, the world situation invariably develops in the direction favourable to the people. The people of the whole world, including the Soviet people, have come to see more and more profoundly the social-imperialist nature of the Soviet revisionist renegade clique. Looking' fierce and-hot to be challenged, it is in actual fact outwardly strong but inwardly weak; it is beset with crises and the going is getting tougher and tougher. Doing things in a perverse way, it runs counter to the abjective law of social development and pits itself against the people at home and in the rest of the world. It cannot escape the fate of being buried completely by the people.
   These two poems by Chairman Mao, like his 37 other poems published before, profoundly reflect the tremendous changes in the history of the Chinese revolution and the world revolution. ''Chingkangshan Revisited” and "Two Birds: A Dialogue" were written on the eve of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. In the light of the situation in class struggle both at home and abroad at that time, we keenly realize the profound political and immediate significance of these two brilliant poems. Taking into account the practice of the Chinese revolution and the world revolution, Chairman Mao has summed up the experience and lessons of the international communist movement, the capitalist restoration in the Soviet Union in particular, and indicated the direction of continuing the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat. Not long after he wrote the two poems Chairman' Mao, with great revolutionary valour, initiated and led the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. It is a great revolution aimed at combating and preventing revisionism, and a great practice "to-climb Chingkangshan" again. Guided by Chairman Mao's revolutionary line, the people of the whole country, displaying fearless revolutionary spirit, finally demolished the bourgeois headquarters with Liu Shao-chi as its chieftain after repeated trials of strength between the classes. Following this, they waged a struggle against the Lin Piao anti-Party clique. Thus the intrigues of Liu Shao-chi, Lin Piao as well as Khrushchov and Brezhnev to restore capitalism in China were dashed to pieces.
   "Nothing is hard in this world if you dare to scale the heights." This is a summing-up by Chairman Mao of the Chinese people's prolonged revolutionary struggle and an encouragement to the whole Party and the whole nation to continue the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat. It inspires us to continue our march forward and scale one height after another. An undaunted revolutionary spirit was necessary in order to overthrow the three big mountains of imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat-capitalism; such spirit was also needed in carrying out the Great Proletarian: Cultural Revolution. Today we need to keep and make great efforts to carry forward this spirit in order tot-defend, consolidate and develop the gains of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution and persist in continuing the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat. While the prospects are bright, the road has twists and turns. (Mao Tsetung: On the Chungking Negotiations) We will for ever follow Chairman Mao's revolutionary line, continuously scale new heights in socialist revolution and socialist construction and win one fresh victory after another.

(A slightly abridged translation of an article published in "Hongqi”)

 * Chinfiknnsshan. or the Chinkang Mountains, is a region with many basins hemmed in by precipitous mountains. It is in the middle section of the Lohsiao mountain range, encompassing a number of counties in western Kiangsi Province and Hunan Province. Chairman Mao established China's first rural revolutionary base area here in October 1927.
 

 ** "Hsiao Yao Yu" in Chuang Tzu: Chuang Tzu is one of the philosophical works of the Taoist school in ancient China, written by Chuang Chou (circa 369-286 B.C.) and his later disciples. "Hsiao Yao Yu" is a chapter in Chuang Tzu. It begins with a fable saying that once there was a fish called kun in the north sea that was so big no one actually knew its size. Later it transformed itself into a bird called peng whose back extended for thousands of li in length. When the peng flew up to the sky its wings were like the clouds shrouding the sky. When "the sea began moving," the peng started flying to the south sea. One flap of its wings would strike up a breaker 3,000 li high and, like a raging cyclone, It would soar 90,000 H and fly for six months before stopping. When a sparrow saw this, it ridiculed the peng, saying: "When I fly, 1 stop on an elm or any other tree I come across and perch on it. Sometimes If I can't reach a tree in my flight, I just land on the ground. What is the need to fly 90,000 li into the sky? And why fly so far as the south sea?"
 Chairman Mao, in recasting the fable in a revolutionary way, has set us an example of how to make ancient things serve the present.

Source: Peking Review, No. 2, January 9, 1976
Transcribed by www.wengewang.org
  
  
  

 
 
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