Liao Yiwu: A Dirge for Liu Xiaobo

Chinese writer Liao Yiwu, now living in exile in Berlin,  shared on his Twitter feed on August 11 his poem mourning the death of his friend Liu Xiaobo in China and the desperate situation of his wife Liu Xia now apparently illegally detained in China by some anonymous proxies acting on behalf of the Chinese authorities.

Liu Xia shared last fall her own poem about the plight and frustrations she and her husband, a Nobel Peace Prize winner jailed by the Chinese Communist Party for his advocacy for freedom and democracy in China, have faced.  For more on Liu Xia, see Frank Ching’s article Liu Xia: A woman whose existence is an embarrassment to China.

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Liu Xiaobo (left) with his friend Liao Yiwu in Liao’s hometown of Chengdu, Sichuan during the summer of 1996.

Below is my draft translation of Liao Yiwu’s poem.

Liao Yiwu: A Dirge for Liu Xiaobo

He’s dead. What difference will it make?
Bright sunshine, the distant remaining snow of the Alps in the distance
Like shimmering fish scales, his ashes thrown into the great, shimmering sea
Like those fish scales will they travel further and further away from us?
What difference will it make? He’s dead.

A torn-up book
And his wife, a wounded bookmark
Slips down beside his bed. She watches him
She wants to throw herself over him and scream “Don’t die! My love, I don’t want you to die, oh God!”
But she can only watch him quietly
Like a fallen bookmark watching a book being torn apart, page after page

The whole world looked on as he was murdered
A cage surrounding a white-clad ghost
That scholar determined never to leave China even unto death
That four-time jailed thought criminal
Now said that he would rather die in the West. Have you heard that. O people
Even if you are deaf, you still have a mouth
Even if you are dumb, you can still see
Even if you are blind — can blind people get angry?
Can ten-odd hundred million blind Chinese people get angry?
What difference will it make? He’s dead.

I still wait for news that he has risen
Late that night flocks of birds wailed sadly in the air
Flower petals fell, the grass grew, and my wife and daughter slept soundly
I am a ghost pacing back and forth in the darkness. He is geting closer
His silhouette glides like a comet across the heavens
That flight to heaven, is there one called 8964?
He released his wife’s hand and urged her over and over to go on living. Just like many years before
When he was at Tiananmen, amid the rumbling of tanks and bursts of gunfire
Throngs of children fell to the ground and their souls rose upwards
Saying their farewells as they left. Over and over they had urged him
To go on living for the sake of the souls lost to the great slaughter

What difference will it make? He’s dead.
Nailed to the cross by the Communist Party, he is now eternally there like Jesus
Who rose again after being tortured to death
I still wait to hear you have news of his takeoff
I wait for him to write that last love letter
For him to send his wife thousands of miles far away and later be buried in a foreign land
We will often go to visit him. As the nighttime darkness gathers
The past sweeps by like a river flood that sweeping past tree branches.

But everything was shattered, He is not free
His life and his death, his cremated ashes, his love, none of them are free
The whole world watched helplessly as a man of integrity
Like an outstanding book, was torn apart bit by bit
Nobody can stop these ignorant atrocities
But everyone hoped that they could be stopped!
Nobody can do anything about that, dear God,
He is dead.

2017年8月11日凌晨

In the predawn hours of Friday, August 11, 2017 in Berlin

給劉曉波的輓歌

他死了,這又能改變什麽
陽光明亮,阿爾卑斯山巔的殘雪在遠方
如閃爍的魚鱗,他的骨灰被拋向閃爍的大海
如魚鱗,我們對他的追憶
也魚鱗般漸行漸遠麼?
這又能改變什麽,他死了

一本被撕毀的書
而愛人,是受傷的書籤
滑落床頭。她注視著他
她想撲上去喊:“你不要死!親愛的,我不要你死,上帝啊!”
但她只能默默注視
如滑落的書籤注視書被撕毀,一頁又一頁

全世界都看著他被謀殺
囚籠環繞著白衣鬼魂
這個曾經死也不離開中國的讀書人
這個四次坐牢的思想犯
如今說死也要死在西方。聽見了嗎,人們
如果你聾了,至少還有嘴
如果你啞了,至少還在看
如果你瞎了——瞎子會憤怒嗎
十幾億中國瞎子會憤怒嗎
這又能改變什麽,他死了

我還在等待他起飛的消息
成片的鳥在風中哀鳴,那個深夜
花瓣在落,草在長,妻子和女兒在酣睡
我是一個幽靈在黑暗中徘徊。他漸漸近了
身影如篲星划過天際
去天堂的航班,有八九六四嗎
他鬆開妻子的手,叮囑她好好活下去。那是多年以前
他在天安門,坦克轟鳴,一陣陣槍聲
孩子們成群結隊倒下,靈魂爬起來
與他告別。他們叮囑他要活下去
為了大屠殺的亡靈而好好活下去

這又能改變什麽,他死了
被共產黨釘在十字架,永恆如耶穌
在虐殺中復活
我還在等待他起飛的消息
等待他寫完最後的情書
他送妻子到萬里之外,然後埋骨異鄉
我們會經常去看他。當夜幕低垂
往事如河流掠過樹梢

但一切都碎了,他沒有自由
生死,骨灰,愛,都沒有自由
全世界眼睜睜看著一個高尚的人
如一本出色的書,被緩緩撕毀
沒有誰能阻止這無知的暴行
可誰都希望能阻止!
這又能改變什麼,親愛的上帝
他死了

2017年8月11日,星期五,柏林

 

 

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About 高大伟 David Cowhig

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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