Sunday, March 18, 2018

#77 / Autocracy Meets The Poem

I Object

Anonymous 無名氏

Translated by Geremie R. Barmé

weapons, to kill 
(Warring States era); 
later similar in use to the perpendicular pronoun 
‘I’ in English, and ‘me’
I object to the north wind
I object to pollution-haze
I object to wet, rainy mornings
I object to the darkling despair of dusk
I object to the confusion of the seasons
I object to these topsy-turvy times
I object to curtains and security doors
As well as to intimidating walls
I object to roads that smother flowers and trees
I object to the ponds where they raise swans
That are enclosed by barbed wire
I object to ill-fitting clothes
And to shoes that are too small
As well as to their uninspired colours
I object to men who hit women
I object to parents who mistreat their children
I object to cruel departures
I object to betrayal
I object to disappointment
I object to smug laughter
And shrill cries
I object to self-indulgent weeping
I object to those vile faces
And to the mouths that sing crap songs
As well as to the promotion of those songs
I object to grass that yields to the wind
I object to myself, too:
My stupidity and craven timidity
But I don’t object to writing a poem
To record my objections
I object to the white noise of the world
I object to the pretense of equanimity
I object to the eradication of greatness
I object to self-justifying truths
I object to blatant ignorance
I object to the tomorrow that’s been promised
I just want you all to join me in shouting:

This poem is by an anonymous Chinese author, and has been translated and published by Geremie R. Barmé, who is a professor of Chinese history and the founding director of the Australian Center on China in the World at the Australian National University. Barmé is also the editor of China Heritage.

This poem, "I Object," has circulated on social media and among China analysts, and the last few lines of the poem were published in an article in the March 10, 2018, edition of The New York Times, "Murmurings of Dissent Upset China’s Script for Xi’s Power Grab."

Reporters Steven Lee Myers and Javier C. Hernández, both with extensive experience in China, identify this poem (and other poems that have been suppressed in China) as evidence of the "murmurings" that signify that the efforts of Chinese President Xi Jinping to establish what amounts to his lifetime rule over China have only a "veneer of public support." 

As I noted in one of my recent blog postings, autocracy, which gives the appearance of strength, is ultimately weaker than a political system that recognizes the ultimate truth of our human condition: we are all together in this life, and we best address every issue, from pollution to sexual harassment, when we are all engaged in the debate and discussion that will ultimately lead to action.

The "objections" in the poem are not specifically Chinese objections. "Roads that smother flowers and trees," and "crap songs," afflict us all. 

In a democracy, we are all invited to shout, "I object," but more than that. Where democratic self-government prevails, we are all invited to go beyond shouting, and to change the world in fact, and all those conditions within it to which we object.

Image Credit:

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for your comment!