Friday’s proverb: Darkness

“Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.”

I thought this was a good one today to honor Lix Xiaobo, on the day he should have accepted his Nobel Peace Prize. This is the first time in 75 years that a recipient was unable to claim the prize and the $1.5 million award–the last time the winner Carl von Ossietzky was in one of Hitler’s concentration camp. I had been wondering if someone else from his wife’s list of 140 people who accept it, but no one did.

Credit: Heiko Junge/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

And here is a poem for Xiaobo entitled “Words a Cell Can’t Hold

This poem was translated by Jeffrey Yang from the Chinese.

From “Experiencing Death”

I had imagined being there beneath sunlight

with the procession of martyrs

using just the one thin bone

to uphold a true conviction

And yet, the heavenly void

will not plate the sacrificed in gold

A pack of wolves well-fed full of corpses

celebrate in the warm noon air

aflood with joy

Faraway place

I’ve exiled my life to

this place without sun

to flee the era of Christ’s birth

I cannot face the blinding vision on the cross

From a wisp of smoke to a little heap of ash

I’ve drained the drink of the martyrs, sense spring’s

about to break into the brocade-brilliance of myriad flowers

Deep in the night, empty road

I’m biking home I stop at a cigarette stand

A car follows me, crashes over my bicycle

some enormous brutes seize me

I’m handcuffed eyes covered mouth gagged

thrown into a prison van heading nowhere

A blink, a trembling instant passes

to a flash of awareness: I’m still alive

On Central Television News

my name’s changed to “arrested black hand”

though those nameless white bones of the dead

still stand in the forgetting

I lift up high up the self-invented lie

tell everyone how I’ve experienced death

so that “black hand” becomes a hero’s medal of honor

Even if I know

death’s a mysterious unknown

being alive, there’s no way to experience death

and once dead

cannot experience death again

yet I’m still

hovering within death

a hovering in drowning

Countless nights behind iron-barred windows

and the graves beneath starlight have exposed

my nightmares

Besides a lie

I own nothing

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One response to “Friday’s proverb: Darkness

  1. Thanks for sharing this, Natasha.

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