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Tree-rings

2008年05月29日

Liu Nianchun

About the poet

Liu Nianchun is a dissident writer from Beijing. He was a major participant in the Democracy Wall movement in 1979 and an editor of the underground publication Today. Beginning in 1981, Liu served three years in prison for transferring manuscripts written by his imprisoned brother. In 1989, he participated in the Tiananmen Democracy Movement. He currently resides in the United States.

What times are these, today
That overlap times past
So that one can’t distinguish
Like rings on an old pagoda tree
The past written, the present laid bare
But no road
To the future

Where evil comes from
No one knows
Like yellow earth, layer compacting layer
Like years shrouded in cobwebs and dust
Numb, or devoid of feeling

Like breakers crashing in river, lake, or sea
Like sun and moonlight crushing yesterday into today
Yellow leaves swaying in the breeze
Finally someone knows
The road circles and begins again
Indifferent, no attempt to hide it

Seek light in the midst of evil
Pray for hope in the face of indifference
Finally the day comes
When you reap hopelessness on that muddy road

Samsara1 is open and completely bare
5,000 years of hurrying back and forth
80,000 li 2 of birth and rebirth
Chasing history
Tracking the present
Avenging the future

Samsara hurries
Along the road
But it is hard to recognize an instance of deception in the present
Today, history is forgotten
Because of deception the forgotten is beyond the bright blue sky

Today one wants to tell again
Of the evil that lurks beneath willow branches in the spring breeze
Not knowing when it acquired that patina of sanctity
Yet not allowed to speak of it freely
What times are these

年轮

刘念春

今天,是什么年代
却和以往年代重合
以致分不清
老槐树似的年轮
书写过去,坦呈现在
却没有一条路
通向未来

邪恶从那条路走来
没有人知道
象黄土地一层压着一层
象蛛网尘封的年代
是麻木还是冷酷

象江河海一浪击碎一浪
象日月光昨天击碎今天
黄叶在风中摇摆
终于有人知道
路在周而复始
冷漠而不掩盖

在邪恶中寻找光明
在冷漠中祈求希望
终于有一天
却在泥泞的道路上收获无奈

轮回坦荡一丝不挂
五千年匆匆往来
八万里生生不息
追讨历史
跟踪当代
报应将来

轮回匆匆
走在路上
却难以认清一次当代的欺诈
今天,历史的遗忘
遗忘因欺诈而在朗朗青天外

今天,又想告诉
春风杨柳枝条下的罪恶
却不知何时披上一层圣洁的光泽
还不准自由表达
这是什么年代

Translated by J. Latourelle

Notes

1. Buddhist cycle of death and rebirth. ^

2. A Chinese unit of measurement, equal to approximately 0.5 kilometers. ^