Li Bifeng 李必丰: In a Country Like This, We Can Only Hibernate

Li Bifeng,  a Chinese poet imprisoned for his article about a 1989 worker protest.  He got another twelve year prison sentence in 2012 apparently for helping another Chinese writer, Liao Yiwu flee into exile.  Li was arrested three months after Liao Yiwu left China for Germany.  His current prison sentence, now reduced to ten years, means that by the time he leaves prison he will have been a prisoner for twenty-two years.

Liao Yiwu in his foreword to Li Bifeng’s first novel, to be published in Germany during 2017, quotes a passage in which Li Bifeng describes a dream he had: “You are a bird, you have life, but there are other living things in this world as well. For example, the coal that we prisoners suffer so much to dig out of the ground. That too is life. Every time we dig up a piece of coal, we realize deep inside, that what we hold in our hands is not just a lump of coal, much more important is that it is a life. A life that has been buried underground in the darkness for very many years. A long time ago somebody asked me what it is that coal can burn. The reason is simple. That is only because after something has been imprisoned deep underground for a long time, that life can b by sending forth a tongue of burning fire prove its very existence to the world.”

In a Country Like This, We Can Only Hibernate

Li Bifeng

Winter came too soon
Our trees have started to wither
We no longer gave them fertilizer
And so our black hair by years of snow
Freezes slowly turning grey and white
Our skin cracking like the parched earth
Winter has come
We all love to sleep during the winter
Our hearts are tired
Our blood is tired
We sleep beneath the snows
In a country like this
We can only hibernate








About 高大伟 David Cowhig

Now retired, translated Liao Yiwu's 2019 "Bullets and Opium", and studying some things. Worked 25 years as a US State Department Foreign Service Officer including ten years at US Embassy Beijing and US Consulate General Chengdu and four years as a China Analyst in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research. Before State I translated Japanese and Chinese scientific and technical books and articles into English freelance for six years. Before that I taught English at Tunghai University in Taiwan for three years. And before that I worked two summers on Norwegian farms, milking cows and feeding chickens.
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