Archive for 2013年2月

Stephane Hessel and the state of the air. A chat with Beijing.

二月 28, 2013
Baum am Donaukanal

photo by Sara Bernal

Chat with an old friend in Beijing who works in Chinese media. Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013 7:50 am GMT

hello dear

bonjour. 早上好。

how are you ??


feeling nauseated, pollution is above maximum level again
855 right now




you know the article i translated a few days ago to tackle the pollution? they want to forbid the barbecues !!


like 羊肉串?

dui !!



the state of the air is the state of the art of ruling the country. we had a guy from shanghai here at the university yesterday, there is a un conference on middle east in the city, and he is a chinese expert on jews in china and relations to middle east. very pragmatic, realist guy, sounds like some of his israeli friends. we don’t want another libya chaos, so we veto.


but who are they defending in the security council? sudan was massacring their own people. China supports any regime that suppresses their own population by military means.

yeaah, so now it is too late for the international community to shine, and the ones who help in Syria are the radical islamist, Al qaida etc..


when the war will be over, do we really want an other country ruled by Al Qaida, because china did not want chaos ?
such short term vision
lets not forget the dearest firend poutine
such a nice guy to help his economy by boosting the weapons and jets industry

yes. the chinese love to cooperate on weapons with israel and do all sorts of research. he likes to talk about such things. but nobody asked tough questions. stephane hessel died two days ago in france, wasn’t it? the old guy who survived the nazis and inspired recent civil movements. it’s not easy. arab spring was risky. doesn’t look good now, on the whole.

yes, he passed away, just learned about it a few minutes ago, i just cried watching the news

every revolution takes time, the french one lasted more than 20 years
to really settle down

the name arab spring comes from prague spring 1968. there are always risks with popular movements for democracy from the bottom up. participation, human rights, civil rights, civil society.

but the good thing in the chaos in egypt and algeria and tunisia, is that now, people know they can make a difference, and wont take bullshit and abuse like sheep

so, all those who just had personal ambitions are aware that they too can be put down by civilians if they don t act according with the will of the people.

yes. two and a half years ago it looked like mubarak and gaddafi etc. would rule forever.

it will take time, but in the end, we, the basic people all want the same: quiet, freedom, work, and education for the kids

it was more convenient for everybody to support the status quo.

for us, china, eu, diplomats….

you are right. to be left in peace by the government, to have basic rights and freedom, to have work, and education for the kids. in tibetan. in mongolian. in uighur. etc. not very difficult.




头疼 头晕




i was horrified by the story of Lili

i sent it to my friends and colleagues

it’s very disgusting. the poem is from last october. it didn’t look as if she would get justice. remarkably well-written report in the newspaper when you follow the link., very detailed.

my chinese is too bad to understand the original text, but i will have some of my colleagues help me understand. I am getting ready for the NPA and CCPPC. 3 weeks with no day of for this occasion.

at austrian PEN-club they have a special activity Time To Say No. Started after Malala was shot in Pakistan. I am helping them with Chinese texts.

One Chinese writer who lives in Canada sent a much more horrible poem than Lily’s Story. Very good poem, too. Her name is Sheng Xue 盛雪. I can send it to you, if you like. Women’s day on March 8 is a good occasion to pay attention to the real world.

yes, please, it is always good to make people aware of these facts

too many people with power still think they can get away from their acts, thank god internet is there so nobody forgets

寄給你 8:22:16 AM Sending of “Sheng Xue.doc”

Oh my god, that’s awful

i can’t stand injustices like that

i can’t stand that these murderous pigs can get away with it !!

i am not for violence, but sometimes i think …


please send it around, if you like.

i will

the english translation is not bad. but the original is even better.

or worse, of course.

i passed them around

what are your colleagues saying? Maybe they know some of the names in the poem by Sheng Xue. I didn’t know the names, but it sounds very real.

i did not hear anything from my colleagues

i guess many chinese just prefer to ignore that kind of things

like the ostrich digging its head in the sand

at least one or two of the names in the poem by Sheng Xue would get results even in English at Google or Baidu. Lily’s Story was reported in China. Even in newspapers, though not very big.

i think the more they hear about this kind of things, the more rebellious they will be towards those jerks

yes. but it isn’t big news every day. the pollution is. that’s the good thing about it. easy to say for me when I don’t smell it right now.

二月 26, 2013


sie haben den baum vorm fenster gefällt
ich weiss nicht warum
er liegt noch herum
sie standen beisammen im hof und sprachen
von polizei und so sachen
ich fragte nicht nach
wir sind nachbarn im anderen haus
es geht uns nichts an
es war nur der baum
unlängst haben sie sträucher gerodet
da ist eine gesprungen
und eine weile liegengeblieben
hat man dann erfahren
sie haben den baum vorm fenster gefällt
es steht noch ein kleiner gestutzter
und bald kommt der efeu der wilde wein
und was rotes das klettert
und noch weisse sträucher
der baum war alt
er hat halt geblüht
von uns aus gesehen das schönste im hof
jetzt gibt es mehr licht
man sieht in der richtung die serbische kirche
und weniger nester vielleicht

MW    Feb. 2013



ein gedicht ist ein zug
eine abweichung
trug dich ein zug
ein verbotener
konntest du aufatmen
schmecken nachdenken
war es genug

MW    Feb. 2013

Mo Yan corn
mehr züge 吸引

reden 言

abstimmung 票決

frühlingsschnee 伊沙 《春雪》

drache ade 告別龍年

wiedersehen 告別

not 莫

many-coloured days

vacation 假日

coffee-house at the end of the world 最後的咖啡館

toys and the frost

Mo Yan 莫言

ideology 意識形態

distance studies 距離學

300 Recent Chinese poems 新詩三百首中英對照

The Nobel 諾貝爾獎

Dieses Leben 今生

Mo Yan’s old house 莫言故居

Lai Hsiangyin and Chen Kohua in Vienna 賴香吟、陳克華

Mo Yan and Murakami 莫言、村上春樹


Lily’s Story 赵思运//丽丽传/

Moroccan Fountain 摩洛哥噴泉

Moon From Train

Punks, empathy and torture: Pussy Riot in China and Vienna

Wang Wei: Abschied 王維-送別

Murong Xuecun, Yu Hua, Liu Zhenyun, Bob Dylan and Rivers of Bablyon 慕容雪村、余華、劉震云、流行音樂

Flying over the sea, quietly 顏峻

poetry and music 詩、歌


二月 13, 2013

Happy year of the snake! How are you doing? I have just finished translating an essay on bonsais in jail. From Chinese into German. Spring in a Prison Cell, by Shi Mingde (Shih Ming-te) 施明德, written in August 1989. He was Taiwan’s Liu Xiaobo. Released in the early 1990s, after 25 years in jail. Nearly executed in 1980 after organizing the Formosa protests. Arrested again in 1997, campaigning for direct presidential elections. Organized protests against corruption in 2006.
His older brother Shi Mingzheng died in a hunger strike in August 1988.

If you feel like it, please tell me how you like the following poem. Or the translation. Shorter words are easier to fit in a rhythm.

Have a good year!



Shi Mingzheng (1982)


Yes, we are September birds, arriving
on this western pacific island, panting;
marveling at the island’s beauty;
riding the breeze, changing into the foam, soaring over Green Island’s blue skies

We have wings to adore.
We don’t need passports or border controls.
We don’t have professions or housing,
picking grain anywhere, sleeping where we can rest.

We don’t have jails, no informing and framing,
no scaffolds or labor camps, no exploitation.
We eat what we find, at most we have children exploiting their parents.
We don’t have assassinations.

And so we don’t have police and informers.
We don’t have thugs performing as agents.
We have the freedom you people are craving, but if you catch us
We end up on sticks for your peace-loving teeth.

Tr. MW, Feb. 2013

施明正 (1982)







二月 9, 2013

《新诗典》以本诗为天下苍生祈福! //@老纪微波:抄送@长安伊沙
In bloom in the chanting
Zhan Che
Chanting sutras, blossoms opening
– stopping by the shrine of the Le Sheng Old People’s Home
[to be demolished]

100 year old banyan tree stretching its roots
sunlight in the wind tipping millions of leaves
some kind of music comes from these instruments
from strings and keys
from hairs and tongues
lepers kneeling before Buddha statues
wrists without hands
wrists that had knives tied to them for cutting vegetables
wrists, mallets tied to them beating wooden fish
– wooden fish swimming in sounds of bells
sounds of bells swimming in rain

those fish without noses
bats with no eyes
earthworms with no hands or feet
by the sound of those wooden fish
growing into whatever they planted
osmanthus smiles magnolia
scents through their four elements six roots of desire
through their five sensory organs in forms of flowers
scents drawing in sutra chanting
in the unseen world –
from their deformed hands feet noses lips
growing twigs and leaves
osmanthus blossoms magnolia smiles
smiling bodhisattvas
in scents of sandalwood and flowers
lighting lanters to walk through the night

but they will be banished by rigid laws
this cultural heritage for all mankind fits into
colonial history public health human rights
they are helpless in this official-commercial structure
but they will take to the streets kneeling and praying
with their deformed blood-swollen hands and feet
kneeling praying entreating towering authorities
bringing their muttering whispering groaning
flower scents and chanting sutras
drip into memory drop in the rain

Published in Unitas Daily (Taiwan) June 23, 2006

Tr. MW Febr. 9, 2013


【2006/06/23 聯合報】 【詹澈】


長成他(她)們植栽的桂花 玉蘭花 含笑
開出了桂花 玉蘭花與含笑

這合於人權的 殖民史的 公衛史的
人類共有的文化古蹟 一群與建築
帶著噥噥喃喃 嘸嘸唔唔的


二月 5, 2013

Yi Sha

White Snow Black Crows

Beijing morning. Iron Lion’s Grave.

It has snowed all night.

Stepping on a field of white

walking deep into the campus,

suddenly –

sounds of attack.

A commando of crows

at my feet filling the deck

of this aircraft carrier.

Oh, white snow black crows

like God’s own picture,

make me rub my hands,

breathe at my fingers

before rolling it up

to take it away.

December 2012

Tr. MW Jan. 2013


















 This post is from Yi Sha’s Sina blog. Iron Lion’s Grave 铁狮子坟 is the bus stop at the east gate of Beijing Normal University 北京师范大学。 White Snow Black Crows Bai xue wu ya 《白雪乌鸦》 is the title of a novel by Chi Zijian 迟子建 that came out in 2012, about a plague outbreak in Harbin 100 years ago that claimed over 60.000 lives. Didn’t know about this novel when I first saw the poem, only after I had translated it. Don’t even know if Yi Sha thought of the novel when he wrote the poem. There was some sarcasm on Weibo about the “new” aircraft carrier in the last two months. Pictures of dilapidated schools in the mountains without even benches to sit on, but the national aircraft carrier is introduced. See also this post by Chinaavantgarde. I recently translated Spring Snow 《春雪》,another poem by Yi Sha that was printed in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung.

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