Jianli Yang: A Lamentation


The Western Journal is publishing the following poem by Chinese dissident and human rights activist Jianli Yang to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the events of Sept. 11, 2001.

Of his poetry, Yang writes: “The first anniversary of 9/11 happened during my solitary confinement [in a Chinese prison]. My mental health had deteriorated under the weight of prolonged isolation, repeated interrogations and endless psychological and physical torture. I prayed and prayed to God for understanding of his purpose for me and for spiritual strength to sustain myself. I resorted to composing poems in my head and committing them to memory as a means of maintaining my sanity.” – Ed. Note

“A Lamentation”

Two huge new waves of glory crashed down,
Cast so cruelly into history, the towering twins.
Five thousand ships, with sails full-blown,
Now scattered and thrown.
To the Four Winds.

Civilization wept and groaned.
Greatness fell down on her knees to pray.
The red setting Sun, all arrayed in light,
On the back of a Swan,
Turns into Dark Night.

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A crystal tear falls, seed upon a pillow.
The Moon grows, rising up from the sea,
Cradles her face within both her hands
Looking down at the world,
From her abode of peace.

An Old Man smiles, face riddled with ripples,
Undulating, propagating, ripples on ripples…
Another year’s tears, dreams, and emotions
Sink into the deep,
The deep, vast ocean.

Above the foam,
A white feather flies low,
Drifts to and fro,
Then floats…

A sail,
……a boat.

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