Sunday 16 March 2008



This is the only poem I've got into since I've been in China. On reading it for the first time I put down my mobile and stared out the taxi for a while. I think its more about power than a specific country or its officials, but what do I know?.... It was written in Chinese and perhaps the translation may have skipped some nuance? Or even a localised version of iambic pentameter. Either way I'm planet before country when it comes to nationalism. It's a logic thing really; entirely selfish I guess.

Here's the translation

Sketch of Officials

The body grows fat and fatter, the heart narrower and narrower
The titles accumulate more and more, the knowledge shallower and shallower,
The speeches longer and longer, the truths fewer and fewer,
The power greater and greater, the authority lower and lower,
The age older and older, the mistresses younger and younger.


  1. 1) I'm always astounded when someone external finds my shared blog.

    2) In the poem, "authority" is better translated to mean "prestige" because there is decreasing "weixin" as opposed to increasing.

    3) I had not considered girls with lip-hair... it will be pondered.

  2. Interesting feedback. I thought that the authority line wasn't working and you may have noticed a very small tweak that I did to the poem.

    Weixin... that is my new word today.

    Thanks for dropping by Jimi

  3. Hej C,

    I tried to comment on your post, but it seems I couldn't get through I will do it in an old-fashioned way by email.

    I just want to say that I like a lot the poem about the power. It is so simple. It express emphatically the anatomy of power, anatomy of regime. Naked, but stil hurtful. No matter where it is - China, Russia, US...The power turns ugly, the power that strives for achiving goals against others will...

    Warm Regards

    Daria Radota Rasmussen

    Hi Daria. Hope you don't mind but I posted your comment for you. I'm of the opinion that people in power should wear loincloths like Gandhi. It might remind them that they are there to serve the people and not themselves.

  4. i love that poem. it's universal, for sure. interesting that you should post about it in light of recent action up north in tibet.

    in fact, i had an interesting conversation with two of my chinese classmates today about china and the dalai lama - enemy of the state that he is to them - and the idea that it's always about power. the power grows and grows and the money grows and grows.

  5. An old expression but still true:

    Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

  6. Sorry, not the poetic type, mind explaining how's the picture connecting?

  7. I don't want to corrupt you proxykid ;)