Pat Adler : Poems from the Chinese revolution

On the journey from Peking to Xian

The Communes have failed!
Tall maize in the fields dwarfing the heavy-handed millet,
watered from pumps
electrically-powered in their little brick houses.

The Communes have failed!
Green rice glistening in watery hollows
where rice was unknown
in the dry years, gone-by years.

The Communes have failed!
Roast chicken for sale to travellers on China-built railways;
peaches in string bags,
wheat buns in piled-up pyramids.

The Communes have failed!
Peasants cycling leisurely on smooth-surfaced path-ways;
straw-hatted, clean-shirted,
wearing shoes of their choosing.

The Communes have failed!
Children – brown-bodied and active,
set free from school to explore nature’s wonders;
not fettered to labour all day as were their fathers.

The Communes have failed!
Women resting at noon-time,
not spurred any longer by the harsh whips of hunger;
secure in their future, respected and valued.

The Communes have failed!
A whole nation laughs,
not in defiance or grimly, but happily – in confidence.
A nation rising, head held high,
walking on its own two legs.

July 1963

Dreams are not for us

Dreams are not for us
Dreams to end strife are pipe dreams
Too oft befogged by the smokescreen
Of soothing promises from our enemies.
We need clear Vision, floodlighting
Our future.
Appeals to reason —
Like timid tappings on a strong-room door,
Steel-solid, reinforced with rings
Of greed and power and prejudice —
Are useless.

Our new-found strength
Must thunder on their prison gates,
Smash sledge-hammer blows on the strongholds of plunder,
Strip naked the exploiters
For all to see.

Calls from the roof-tops
Are heard only by those who look upwards.
Beckoning from afar is noticed
Only by those who draw near.
We cannot lead thus.

Our voice must sound
On the factory floor and among the farmers.
Our outstretched arm must be upheld
By the millions of the work-worn hands
Of the people.

Yes, we want war!
War on the bloodsuckers and on the parasites;
War on the murderers and on the traitors;
War on those who perpetuate prejudices
Of hatred and contempt.

When they are vanquished
We have won all the wars to end War.
Our Vision will illumine the vastness of the earth.
Our only armies will be those which combine
To conquer nature.

Beijing, 1963

Ding Yurong’s dream

Let me tell you my dream,
Let me tell you what’s in my mind.
I dream of a society
Where all are equal,
Where each helps each
In one big family;
All for one and one for all;
Where minds are open
To welcome new ideas;
Where the old are cared for,
The young are cherished,
And the youth once again work hard
For common prosperity;
Where crime, corruption and strife
Are part of history . . .

This is communism.
This is my dream.