Monday, November 19, 2012

In This Country, We Can Only Stay In Hibernation by Li Bifeng

I believe this is a picture of Li Bifeng.  I found it by means of a search on his name in Chinese (李必丰).  All the image search results for "Li Bifeng" show pictures of the Chinese writer Liao Wiyu, a close friend and one-time fellow prisoner of Li Bifeng.  Why is this so?  While the 12-year sentence was for "contract fraud," there is wide speculation that the verdict was an act of revenge for Liao Wiyu's international advocacy on Li Bifeng's behalf.

Liao Wiyu received the 
Kapuściński Award for Literary Reportage for 2012.  In his acceptance speech in Warsaw, Poland, he said the following about his friend:

The Tiananmen massacre occurred 23 years ago. More than 200,000 troops surrounded the city of Beijing and suppressed tens of millions of ordinary Chinese people who had taken to the streets. Nearly 3,000 protesters were shot dead. Tens of thousands of political prisoners were thrown into jail. Li Bifeng and I were among them. We were in the same prison. Similarly near-sighted, we both looked up with hopes to the star-lit sky sliced by the prison’s bars. Li Bifeng had a wonderful imagination and could write long poems of over a thousand lines, but I could not. After many years, we were each released from prison and went our separate ways. The police often searched my home or detained me for short periods of time, but I was never convicted again. “You’re too lucky!” Li Bifeng would exclaim to me time and again. Li, however, was too unlucky. The first time in jail, he served five years; the second, seven. As for the third—and that was just two months after I left China—Li was arrested for "economic crimes." The real reason was that they suspected him of financially helping me to escape.

I found two poems by Li Bifeng.  I'm unclear as to who translated this one into English.  When I read it, I recall the words of King Solomon: "When the righteous triumph, there is great elation; but when the wicked rise to power, people go into hiding." (Proverbs 28:12, New International Version)

In This Country, We Can Only Hibernate

Winter arrives too early.
Our trees begin to wither.
We no longer have the nutrients to offer them;
Our dark hair slowly freezes to white
In the snows of passing time.
Our skin is like chapped fields.
Winter is here,
We all love to hibernate.
Our hearts are tired
Our blood is tired,
We nestle beneath the snow to hibernate.

I hope that Li Bifeng finds me worthy to cry out on his behalf.

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What's Going On Here?

Pretty much what the tagline says. I'm reciting poems I like, and making mashups of poems I like with the music for which my ear hungers when I read and think of these poems. It is my sincere hope that other lovers of these poems will do likewise.