Poems by Shu Ting (1952-)

The Cry of a Generation

Translated by Richard King

I do not complain 
about my misfortune
The loss of my youth,
The deforming of my soul.
Sleepless nights without number

have left me with bitter memories.
I have rejected all received truths,
I have broken free of all shackles,
And all that remains of my heart

is in ruins, as far as the eye can see . . .
But still, I have stood up!
I stand on the expanse of the horizon.
Never again will anyone, by any means,

be able to push me down.

If it were me, lying in a martyr's grave,
green moss eating away the characters on my headstone;
If it were me, savouring the taste of life behind bars,

debating points of law with my chains;
If it were me, my face haggard and pale,

atoning for my crimes with an eternity of labour;
If it were me, it would be

my tragedy alone
Perhaps I might already have forgiven
Perhaps my grieving and my anger 

might already be at rest.

For the sake of the fathers of the children,
For the sake of the children of the fathers,
So that we no longer need to tremble 

at the unspoken reproaches

from beneath the gravestones everywhere;
So that we may no longer be faced

wherever we turn

by the spectre of the homeless;
So that innocent children

a hundred years from now

need not guess at the history we leave behind.
For this blank in our nation's memory,
For the arduous path our race must travel,
For the purity of the skies

and the straightness of the road ahead
I Demand The Truth!

February 1980


The Cry Of A Generation 

I wouldn't dare appeal
to my own misfortune.
The end of youth for me,
the spiritual deformity,
the countless, sleepless nights,
leave painful memories.
One after another I overturned the wrong;
one after another I shook off the spiritual bonds,
until in my heart was left
one vast ruin . . .
But I was standing then,
surveying a broad horizon,
and no one by any means
can put me down ever again.

If I lay in a common grave of "revolutionary martyrs,"
the inscription on the stone will be erased by green;
if I have experienced life behind bars,
argued with handcuffs about the nature of the law,
if I am haggard or pallid,
doing the hardest labor one does for a crime, 
time without probation,
if any of these were mine, it were merely
my misfortune--
I have forgiven others already;
after all my tears and anger
I have calmed down.

translated by Gordon T. Osing and De-An Wu Swihart

The Wall 

I was unable to rebel against this wall;
I only wished to do so.

Who am I?
What is it? It is very possibly
merely my own skin gradually aging.
It feels no rain or cold or wind or frost;
it doesn't acknowledge the fragrance of orchids.
It is also possible
that I am merely an Asiatic plantain of some kind,
a parasite decorating the bed of some muddy creek.
If I am accidental, it is also inevitable.

Still, in the evening, the wall begins to move,
stretching forth its soft pseudopod,
squeezing me, forcing me
to take all kinds of other shapes.
I panic and escape into the street;
I find the same nightmare I know
hanging at everyone's heels.
One after another come the flinching eyes,
one after another the cold walls.

Ah, I see now,
I must first reject
my own bargains with that wall
to battle my fears out in the world.

Meeting In the Old Path

Suddenly the phoenix trees lean oddly,
a bicycle bell chiming hangs in the air,
the earth spins at top speed
and it's a night again ten years ago.

The phoenix trees swayed gently then, too;
a bell flung the blossoms' smells along the throbbing avenue.
Darkness closed in, then crept out from everywhere.
Memories of that day fuse with seeing you now.

Perhaps nothing happened, and
it's merely my fantasy, triggered by the path;
maybe everything really did happen;
I'm used to things as they are and won't cry anymore.

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