Thursday, 4 June 2009

Thoughts for 6/4

Go where those others went to the dark boundary,
for the golden fleece of nothingness is your last prize

go upright among those who are on their knees,
among those with their backs turned, and those toppled in the dust

you were saved not in order to live,
you have little time, you must give testimony

be courageous when the mind deceives you, be courageous
in the final account, only this is important

and let your helpless Anger be like the sea,
whenever you hear the voice of the insulted and beaten

let your sister Scorn not leave you,
for the informers executioners cowards — they will win,
they will go to your funeral, and with relief will throw a lump of earth,
the woodborer will write your smoothed-over biography

and do not forgive, for truly it is not in your power
to forgive in the name of those betrayed at dawn

beware however of unnecessary pride,
keep looking at your clown’s face in the mirror,
repeat: I was called — weren’t there better ones than I

beware of dryness of heart, love the morning spring
the bird with an unknown, name the winter oak

light on a wall, the splendour of the sky,
they don’t need your warm breath,
they are there to say: no one will console you

be vigilant — when the light on the mountains gives the sign — arise and go,
as long as blood turns in the breast your dark star

repeat old incantations of humanity fables and legends
because this is how you will attain the good you will not attain
repeat great words, repeat them stubbornly
like those crossing the desert who perished in the sand

and they will reward you with what they have at hand
with the whip of laughter, with murder on a garbage heap

go because only in this way will you be admitted to the company of cold skulls
to the company of your ancestors: Gilgamesh Hector Roland
the defenders of the kingdom without limit, and the city of ashes

Be faithful - Go

Zbigniew Herbert, "The Envoy of Mr. Cogito"

Translated by Bogdana and John Carpenter

Worse things have happened in the twenty years since the massacre in central Beijing. Thousands were killed by terrorism in Northern Ireland and New York, thousands more died in genocide in Yugoslavia and Rwanda, and yet more thousands are dying still in warfare in Afghanistan and Iraq. Yet I still cannot bring myself to forgive the Chinese Communist Party for what its leadership did. Yes, I know people in the party, a long-term girlfriend of mine was even a member. This does not mean that I will ever forget the character of that organisation, or forgive what they have done. I do not have the right to do so.

[Update: Thanks to the Telegraph's Shanghai correspondent Michael Moore for the picture of the Tiananmen vigil in Victoria Park, Hong Kong. The organisers estimate that 150,000 people gathered there to commemorate the massacre, whilst the authorities place the number at just over 60,000]

1 comment:

Rhodo Zeb said...

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