As Chinese from different walks of life are joining the quake relief efforts in southwest Sichuan Province, they are also turning to poetry to express their complicated feelings triggered by the destructive May 12 quake.
"When the heart is knived, the pain permeates the whole body/ When a small crevice is dealt, the whole would be torn open."
The verses are part of a poem titled "Majority of Chinese suffer depression", posted on the Internet 10 days ago. It has won more than 100,000 hits from netizens. They showed similar sympathetic feelings toward the quake victims as expressed in the literature.
"After the quake, I felt very sad for the loss of so many lives," said Li Shaojun, the poem's author. "On the other hand, I also felt man was rather weak before nature."
"For days, I did not want to talk to anyone until I had the impulse to write a poem on the night of May 19," said Li, who was an editor-in-chief of "Tianya" ("Skyline"), a Chinese literature magazine.
Li took about one hour to complete the five-paragraph poem that told about the feelings of Chinese and those of his own after the 8.0-magnitude quake, which rocked Sichuan Province and affected neighboring areas. The quake death toll reached 68,858 as of Friday noon.
"I felt I was rather relieved and became strong after I finished the poem," he said. "Poems can express our deepest and strongest feelings."
Like Li, Huo Junming, a professor at Beijing Institute of Education, also wrote two poems after he saw the scenes of thousands of people shouting "Go China" at Tian'anmen Square on May 19, the first day of a three-day national mourning for the quake dead.
Huo was only one year old when the 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck Tangshan, Hebei Province in 1976. His uncle and aunt died under toppled buildings, but before they were buried, they wrapped their four-year-old son in a quilt and tossed the baby out of the window. The boy survived.
"The tragedies descended upon humans again," said Huo, trying to contain his emotions.
"In the face of disasters, we are weak, but deep in our hearts, we have to be strong," he said, adding that the chants at Tian'anmen Square were an outbreak of people's feelings after their sadness.
Huo remembered the moment in his verses: "In the unusually long three minutes, I saw a Nation in grief/ Oh, Nation, a rarity in my frail verses/ A fever is scorching her, in the southwest corner of her forehead."
Such quake-related poems have appeared on a number of Websites. Verses are written in memory of the lost children, parents, teachers, or simply, lives.
"Mom, Come here and hear me/ You go and see the flowers when I leave / Thriving flowers everywhere/ They are like a joyous me."
Another reads: "Come, my child/ Hold onto mom's hands/ The road to Heaven is too dark/ I'm afraid you might be hurt again."
"Poetry is the voice of the heart," said Song Suiliang, a Shandong Normal University professor. "Its significance lies more in the call for and expression of a nation's fortitude, belief, optimism and courage."
"The poems, which truthfully recorded the thoughts and feelings of Chinese in face of the quake, should be something to be referred to for this period of history in future," he suggested.
(Xinhua News Agency May 31, 2008)