song of the seven sons*

old macau street ©papa osmubal

old macau street ©papa osmubal

song of the seven sons*

wen yiduo


Do you know Macau has never been my real name?
I have been away from you for too long, Mother.
What they captured is my body.
But my soul is always in your keep.
Oh, Mother, I can never forget you for these 300 years.
Please call my nickname, call me Ao Men
Mother! I want to come home, Mother!

hong kong

Like the yellow panther guarding the gates of the Empire
Oh, Mother! my post is strategic, yet my identity so humble.
The ferocious Sea Lion is pressing upon me,
Devouring my flesh and bones and warming itself on my blood.
Oh, Mother! I waited and cried, yet you hear me not.
Oh, Mother! quick! let me hide in your embrace!
Mother! I want to come home, Mother!


We are the string of pearls offered by the East Sea.
Ryukyu is my little brother, I am Tai Wan
The spirit of the Zheng family is still warming my heart
The blood of the patriot has been my heritage
Mother, the scorching sun is burning me up
With your order, I shall draw my last fight
Mother! I want to come home, Mother!

weihai bay

Let me guard this oldest sea of China again
For ashore lies the tomb of our sage
Mother, do not forget I am the sea’s warrior
I have the Liu Gong island as my shield
Reach out for me quick, for now is the time.
The remain of the sage is on my back
Mother! I want to come home, Mother!

guangzhou bay

The East Sea and GuangZhou are my keys
I am the unbreakable lock on the last stand
Why did you loan me to this thief?
Mother, you should have never abandoned me
Mother, have me back at your knees
I will hold your ankles as tight
Mother! I want to come home, Mother!


My cousin HongKong is telling his suffering
Mother, do you remember the young daughter Kowloon
Since you married me to the monster of the sea
My tears never stopped droping
Mother, I longed for the day to come home
I am terrified if the wish were in vain
Mother! I want to come home, Mother!

lu shun, da lian

We are Lu Shun, Da Lian, the identical twins
But how are going to compare our fates?
The two savage neighbors had us trampling
We are the two muddy under their feet
Mother, the time has come, claim us back
You  never knew how much we miss you
Mother! I want to come home, Mother!

dead water

This is a ditch of desperate dead water,
Where wind can blow but raise no ripples.
Best just to throw in more scraps of copper and iron,
Might as well pour in your leftovers of cold porridge.

Perhaps the copper will green into emerald,
Tin cans rusting out stalks of peach blossoms;
Then let the grease weave up a sheet of silk,
While bacteria steam it into the clouds of dawn.

Let the dead water ferment into a ditch of green wine,
Pearl-like whitecaps floating all over;
The laughter of little pearls will turn into large pearls,
Before being bit burst by mosquitoes stealing wine.

So this ditch of desperate dead water
Can just boast of a few degrees of brightness.
And if the frogs can’t bear the solitude,
Then just say the dead water will cry out a song.

This is a ditch of desperate dead water,
Which is certainly not where beauty resides,
Best just to give it up for ugliness to cultivate,
And see what kind of world he can turn it into.


Today sure got me scared, oh, wow!
My legs are still shaking even now.
See, see, if they’d caught me I’d be done,
Or why else you’d think I’d have to run?
Hey, mister, let me get my wind back.
You didn’t see that thing, it was black as black,
No head, limping, real damn scary,
Shaking white flags, saying something.
This year there’s just no way, ask anyone,
Nothing anybody can do, devil or man.
Just more meetings, without sincerity!
But see, they’re all kids in some family,
Just in their teens, right? What for?
Get their heads bashed in by guns some more?
Mister, yesterday I heard even more got killed.
Must have been more of them dumb kids,
These days lots of strange things are happening,
And those students, they got plenty to eat and drink—
But last year our uncle was killed at Willow ‘s Curve,
So hungry he couldn’t even serve—
Who’d give his life for no reason to old Mr. Death!
I’ve never told a lie my whole life long, I bet
My lamp is full of enough jugfuls of gas,
Could I keep going like this and not see the path?
No wonder that old bald guy got so uptight
About telling us not to go to Tiananmen at night.
See! It’s rotten luck, pulling this rickshaw thing.
Wait till tomorrow, when ghosts fill up all Beijing .


Perhaps you have wept and wept, and can weep no more.
Perhaps. Perhaps you ought to sleep a bit;
then don’t let the night hawk cough, the frogs
croak, or the bats fly.

Don’t let the sunlight open the curtain onto your eyes.
Don’t let a cool breeze brush your eyebrows.
Ah, no one will be able to startle you awake:
I will open an umbrella of dark pines to shelter your sleep.

Perhaps you hear earthworms digging in the mud,
or listen to the root hairs of small grasses sucking up water.
Perhaps this music you are listening to is lovelier
than the swearing and cursing noises of men.

Then close your eyelids, and shut them tight.
I will let you sleep, I will let you sleep.
I will cover you lightly, lightly with yellow earth.
I will slowly, slowly let the ashes of paper money fly.

*from Cultural China website
*note that the poem Song of the Seven Sons was written by Wen Yiduo more than half a century before the return of Macau and Hong Kong to the Mainland China. Hence, the sentiments of the poet and the tone of the poem. (– Papa Osmubal)


wen yiduo


Wen Yiduo (24 November 1899–15 July 1946) was a Chinese poet and scholar. Wen was born in Xishui County, Hubei. After receiving a traditional education he went on to continue studying at the Tsinghua University. In 1922, he traveled to the United States to study fine arts and literature in the Art Institute of Chicago. It was during this time that his first collection of poetry, Hongzhu (“Red Candle”), was published. In 1925, he traveled back to China and took a university teaching post. In 1928, his second collection, Sishui (“Dead Water”), was published. His poetry is influenced by Western models. In the same year he joined the Crescent Moon Society and wrote essays on poetry, mostly stressing that poetry should have “formal properties”. He also began to publish the results of his classical Chinese literature research.

At the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War (World War II), he moved to Kunming, Yunnan, and continued to teach in National Southwestern Associated University. He became politically active in 1944 in support of the China Democratic League and continued to be so until his death. His outspoken nature led to his assassination by secret agents of Kuomintang, right after attending a gathering on 15 July 1946 in Kunming.

biographical sketch from Cultural China website