2010: Gao Ye Poem Dedicated to Victims of Mao Zedong Who Took Their Own Lives

Several hundred thousand Chinese were condemned as rightists in the late 1950s because they disagreed with, were believed to disagree with, some aspect of Chinese Communist ideology or policy.  Some were simply the victims of powerful people. Many died or maltreatment, starvation or were executed. Those that survived emerged from prison or forced labor after twenty or more years in prison. See the Wiki article on the Anti-Rightist Movement

Some people decided to escape impossible conditions by ending their own lives. This poem was written by a former rightist prisoner in memory of his friends who decided to end their own lives.

My rough translation of the first poem. (The second one is entitled “My Thoughts After Seeing the Film ‘Love Song of Kangding'”)

In Memory of Those Who Left This World by Their Own Hand

by Gao Ye 高野

In that age in which humans were treated inhumanely
Those people who are “strong yet dissatisfied”
Several decades of spring warmth and flowerings have passed
Down to this day, I have not seen any of them return

Actually, killing oneself is a way of defending one’s rights and expression of self-love
It has nothing to do with the good or the bad
If living you feel terror and hopelessness
After death you walk into another room where the world is generous and kind
If there you feel the same oppressiveness and depressing conditions
You could just kill yourself anew and return to your original condition

I waited for your for ten years, no, for fifty years of flowers falling and buds opening again
Yet I have never seen none of those who killed themselves in those days return
This means that you are indeed in the land of “divine music”
That you pass your days in freedom and fulfillment
That you live and work in peace without anyone disturbing you
There all is much better than in the real world that you came to hate so

If this world we have today
Decides to reform itself into one more attractive
It will certainly attract those people who once killed themselves to escape it
To return like leaves fall home to the roots of the tree that birthed them
Only to emerge again into this world.

December 27, 2011 presented to Yin Shuping
In memory of those unfortunate friends of Jiangnan [south of the Yangtze River]

Gao Ye's Poem

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.
This entry was posted in History 历史, Literature 文学, Politics 政治, Society 社会 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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