Today in history: A Chinese poem for autumn

On this first day of autumn, we offer a quiet moment of reflection penned 80 years ago by Lu Hsün (1881-1936), a Chinese writer (real name: Chou Shu-jen) born in Shaoh-sing, Chekiang province. He studied medicine in Japan. Though not a communist himself he was sympathetic to the Chinese communist movement in the last ten years of his life. He was often approvingly quoted by Mao Tse-tung, and his Selected Works have been issued in English translation by Foreign Languages Press in Beijing.

Autumn 1935

Startled by the awe of autumn that reigns over the earth,

Dare I instill the warmth of spring into the tip of my pen?
In this vast sea of dust a hundred feelings have sunk;
In the rustling wind a thousand officials have fled.
In old age, I return to the lake, only to find no reeds on which to rest;
On vacant clouds, my dreams fall; a chill numbs hair and teeth.
My longings for cockcrow in the wilderness encounter only silence.
I rise to watch the setting constellations.

From The Penguin Book of Socialist Verse, 1970.

Photo: Wikimedia (CC)


Special to People’s World
Special to People’s World

People’s World is a voice for progressive change and socialism in the United States. It provides news and analysis of, by, and for the labor and democratic movements to our readers across the country and around the world. People’s World traces its lineage to the Daily Worker newspaper, founded by communists, socialists, union members, and other activists in Chicago in 1924.