Monday, July 30, 2007

The Speech of Pebbles by Yi Ping

The Speech of Pebbles by Chinese poet and human rights activist Yi Ping is his first collection in English. The poems were translated by a group of poetry students at Ithaca College, directed by their teacher Jerry Mirskin. Yi Ping was born in 1952 in Beijing. As a teenager during the Cultural Revolution, he was sent to the countryside, where he met his wife, translator Lin Zhou. After returning to Beijing, he participated in the Students' Democracy Movement and was permanently banned from teaching and forbidden to publish his work. In 1991, Yi Ping fled to Poland, and in 1997 he was granted political asylum by the U.S. government. In 2001-2003, he was the first writer in residence for the Ithaca City of Asylum program. Currently, he edits the web magazine Human Rights in China ( The Chinese and English versions of each poem appear in the book.

From The Speech of Pebbles


Return now to what is true.
The simple clarity
of soil and sky.
The field of stones.

Time fades quickly.
Let impermanence dawn.
The origins and commonalities,
water and wind,
elements of forever
pelting the cliffs.

Calm and solemn
light shines upon the ruins.
The work of time.
The silence of motion
from earth to stars.

An end. A beginning.

Translated by Betsy Strong

In Chinese and English
ISBN 0-9702498-3-7