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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  1. paulmanfredi Says:

    Reblogged this on china Avant-garde and commented:
    and let’s not forget the poets:
    this is a fine addendum to my previous post, for whatever we say about China’s aircraft carrier, it is quite a symbol, drifting in uncertain waters.

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