Previously named Wang Changyao, Changyao (1936¡«2000) was born in Liande, while his family originated from Taoyuan County of Hunan Province. Influenced by the revolutionary thought at his early age, he was determined to devote himself to his motherland. Changyao joined the People¡¯s Liberation Army without telling his parents in April of 1950, and became an art soldier. Changyao went to Korea with the Chinese People's Volunteer Army in 1951. after being injured in a batter near Wonsan, Korea in June, 1953, he was sent home for treatment. After recovery, he was admitted to Hebei School for Veterans to complete his high school education. Both in response to the summon of ¡°Development of the Vast Northwest¡±, and out of his yearning for the northwest, he went to Qinghai Province in 1955, and was assigned to Qinghai Trading Company. Changyao committed suicide by falling from a high building in March,2000 after he had suffered from cancer, with his swan song THE ELEVEN RED ROSES. Collections of poems by Changyao include Collection of Changyao¡¯s Lyric Poems (1986), Book of Destiny (1994), A Challenging Traveller Walking on the God¡¯s Sand Table (1996) and Poetry of Changyao (1998) etc.
An Ordinary Man Talking About Changyao ----Yisha
I know that I can talk about Yu Jian and Han Dong, I can even comment on Lu Xun. But if I express my comments on Haizi, and Changyao, some would say that I am not qualified. It is not because of my experience and my status, but rather because of something very solemn. Changyao was a¡°saint¡±, whereas I am a¡°rogue¡±, or rather a ¡°hoodlum¡± without even qualified as a ¡°dreg¡±. How can I have the right to discuss Changyao? Do I have the nerve to talk about him? I know what they want to say even before they speak out, because I know them too well. But when I read from SOUTH WEEKEND the articles by those who presumed that they had the qualification¡ªthe articles that had been probably those written for commemorating Haizi, and now were used for Changyao by just substituting the name, I wanted to say something. And non-qualification became the motive for me to write.
I didn¡¯t know Changyao, and I had little relationship with him. I used to imagine that if I had been to Xining, would I go to visit Changyao. The answer was negative, because it was the custom to visit Changyao in the poetry circle at that time. I went to Xining just for drinking with Ma Fei. I asked Ma Fei whether Changyao liked discussing poetry, Ma Fei told me that Changyao didn¡¯t like talking about it. Then I decided that even we had come across at a public place, we wouldn¡¯t form a close relationship between us. I received a letter from him after the Spring Festival this year, the letter was written on his dictation on February 12. He said in this letter: ¡°The reason why I want to thank you is ¡®the understanding¡¯. I have been regarding you as my confidant which is rare in the world. That¡¯s why the Chinese literati used to have the grandiloquence ¡® A gentleman will die for his confidant¡±. The reason is that the ambition, interest and ideal are hard to be understood¡ Thank you for your comments on my poetry and your blessing for my health on the Literary Friends magazine.¡± Yes, it was all because of the few words of my comments at the Literary Friends-Century Poetry Classics column. What did I say? The first time when I selected his ME, I commented that Changyao was the only white corridor left to the Chinese modern poetry of the 1950s and 60s. The second time when I selected his ONE HUNDREND BULLS, I complained: ¡°Don¡¯t always mention his so and so spiritual height, he is one of the most salient poets in contemporary China.¡± He had entrusted somebody else to express his thanks for both times. When he was diagnosed with cancer last November, he asked friends to bid farewell to me and Qin Bazi on behalf of him. He felt that only we two deserved saying farewell, I think. The third time when I selected his THE HAPPY NIGHT, I was afraid that he couldn¡¯t read it. Luckily he managed it and then wrote that letter. I really didn¡¯t say any earthshaking words, but just the common sense in the poetry circle. I just felt that Mr. Changyao didn¡¯t revolt against my way of expression, maybe he even liked my truth-telling comments. He had heard too many flattery words, but not many true words. Or maybe the compliments from me, the ¡°rogue¡±, made him astonished and fresh? I was really not worthy of the titles such as ¡°confidant¡±, so I decided to reply in good earnest. Just because I took it too seriously, I failed to write back in time. I was not sensitive, so I missed the chance.
That was the only relationship between Changyao and me. I mentioned that for lack of self-confidence. Then I would like to give my comments on Changyao. Maybe I am still unqualified, but I am confident that what I say will please Changyao, and my words will make him feel at ease, because he is a man, a poet. There are too many people discussing the spiritual aspects, while it is in vain to talk about his soul, I mean Changyao, a hero in the greenwood of poetry. Last summer, Xu Jiang, Qin Bazi and I had a hard but pleasant trip to northern Shaanxi Province. One night in a hotel in Yan¡¯an, we talked about poetry. As Xichuan has already called us ¡°the underworld society¡±, I might as well make our discussing method known to the public. Each of us three spoke out the top five contemporary Chinese poets and gave the reasons. This aroused a heated debated among us. My list was as follows: 1) Beidao, 2) Changyao, 3) Haizi, 4) Yu Jian, 5) Xichuan. The listing by the other two was similar to mine with only dispute on whether Xichuan should be included. I want to make clear here: The approach as rather brotherly, but the content was serious. All we three selected the poets from the traditional cultural angle, otherwise it would be of no meaning. Wang Jiaxin brotherly adopted the method of Song Jiang (Head of the outlaws of the marsh) for the listing, by which Changyao was not even on the list. The way I listed the poets was to show the position of Changyao in my heart. I didn¡¯t like the way by those who piled ¡°spiritual tutors¡± on him. If you let them admit that Changyao was better than them, they would immediately fall into disfavor. It is so insidious in the circle of poetry. Changyao accomplished his works with all the advantages of time and place deprived by history (He should have a time belonging to himself), he made such outstanding achievement in the times of Beidao and Yu Jian. Compared with Haizi, all the long poems of Changyao are well received and have the quality of maturity. He was really great! As a junior, I worship him!
When I got his Complete Collection of Poems, I had a sleepless night. I had read his poems, but the 21 letters he had written to Ms. SY made me feel sad. I felt lucky that I had chosen the writing way of killing the goddess. I understand the mind torture of Haizi and Changyao. Ah Poets! Use your body to love the women you love, but don¡¯t give them your soul. Otherwise the ordinary women in the world could not bear it.
Selected poems of Changyao
He was gloomy.
Missing his Happy Valley.
Near the bare rocks on the cliff,
his yaks leisurely were grazing
the green grass under the snowline.
On the river bank,
his colt was romping about
splashing the river water
to its mother on the opposite bank,
flurry and delicate with neighing¡.
The world was glazed with the Sun,
the air was filtered by the snow,
all in the enticing cream, grass and aroma of the yeasty¡
--Am I not
that herd nostalgic under the street light,
walking in the dream on the land have the same fate with me?
Death silence¡ªwhose sign?
Mississippi is flowing in the storm,
Opposite the globe, I am silent alone.