Xu Lizhi

I heard of the poet Xu Lizhi several weeks after his death in 2014. His poem, “A Screw Fell Down to the Ground” 《一颗螺丝掉在地上》, touched me. It seemed a lament to every lost soul forced by circumstances to chain themselves to the cold, crushing wheel of progress. This is not to say that I view progress as necessarily bad, but that in it there are winners and losers. Xu clearly saw himself as one of the losers. Rarely do such get a voice. Here is an excellent article about him in Time magazine, titled “The Poet Who Died for Your Phone.”

Here is another of his poems, perhaps my favorite. The translations are not my own but come from this site.


“On My Deathbed”
I want to take another look at the ocean,
behold the vastness of tears from half a lifetime
I want to climb another mountain,
try to call back the soul that I’ve lost
I want to touch the sky,
feel that blueness so light
But I can’t do any of this,
so I’m leaving this world
Everyone who’s heard of me
Shouldn’t be surprised at my leaving
Even less should you sigh or grieve
I was fine when I came, and fine when I left.

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