This poem was written by Liu Xiaobo in 1998. The “Xia” referred to was his wife. Between the early 1950s and into the 2000s in China, from time to time, orders would be given to kill all the dogs in parts of the country.
My Puppy Died
To my beloved Pinky
My love, my puppy died
while I was out one afternoon
killed with Dad’s belt
and Red lies
My love, its name was Tiger
my closest childhood friend
it brought me far more joy and sorrow
That afternoon was special
Dad bought me a movie ticket
always making revolution
he’d never touched my heart before
I only got ninety minutes
then cruel lies ripped me to shreds
my puppy died
while I was first feeling a father’s love
Its flesh handed out to the neighbour boys
its hide nailed to the back of our door
Tiger, once so full of life
now splayed across the stiff cold wood
With its death
my childhood vanished
my only words for this dark world:
I’ll never believe any more
My darling Xia, can you
bring back my puppy?
I believe: you can
I’m sure you can. I’m sure!
This poem is from a book called No Enemies No Hatred, a collection of essays and poems published in the US in 2013. The over-riding and passionate call throughout the collection is that all people without power should – must, in a just world – be treated with respect and humanity.
A Chinese intellectual, Liu Xiaobo is highly critical of many of his fellows and admires a few. He has a sharp turn of phrase and is a pleasure to read (translated into English). In his writings he is trying to determine how people can live a just life, reminding me at times of Montaigne. He admires some aspects of Western democracies, criticises others and notes that Westerners have a pervasive sense of superiority: “Even when criticizing themselves, they become besotted with their own courage and sincerity.”
I’m loving this book.
Liu Xiaobo is 58. He was involved in the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests that were crushed by the army. (He criticises himself for not being more involved.) Liu Xiaobo was gaoled in 2009, sentenced to 11 years in prison for on subversion charges for organising a petition against one-party rule in China.
For more information and an opportunity to protest against Liu Xiaobo’s incarceration, go to: http://www.pen.org/defending-writers/liu-xiaobo