Shi Tao

Shi Tao, a Chinese poet and journalist, was arrested for an email he sent to pro-democracy websites in 2004. His poem “June,” which you can find here, has been passed from one language to another in translation. When a human being can be jailed for writing a poem all humanity suffers. When one human being is deprived of the basic human right of expression their jailers have shown their fear and cowardliness. In the Far East, fear and cowardliness is a humiliating loss of face.


Shi Tao before prison

Shi Tao before prison

Shi Tao your thoughts are as water,
They will always find a way out.
Your suppression is a cotton gag,
Soon to rot and disintegrate.
Despot leaders and jailers all die,
Their passing the cleansing of stain.
Their trial against your humanity,
Rust on the steel of human rights.
History’s repressive governments,
All of them are footnotes in time.
The poets, the writers, the teachers,
Their words the soil of expression,
They pay the price for our freedom.
Your penned words etched on paper,
A killing field of social injustice.
The world’s authoritarians fear this,
Their minions the truth eradicators.
Shi Tao, unlike you they are fools,
They never learn the pen’s strength,
The weight of your written words.
They cannot dismiss freedom’s voice,
For your brothers and sisters speak.
Your indignity poison to the corrupt,
The gall that spills over black deeds.
Nothing exists forever except,
The verdant fields of knowledge.
The poetry of your life, Shi Tao.

Copyright: 2008 Donald Harbour

9 thoughts on “Shi Tao

  1. It always gives my heart a lift when I hear of censored work being spread worldwide as a direct response and challenge to censorship. Your poem really captured the defiant fertility that cannot be extinguished.


  2. wow, from the first line to last a beautiful read of freedom’s path through poetry… thoughts as water beautiful beginning to poetry of your life a lasting line…


  3. Reblogged this on Donald Harbour Poetry and commented:

    Shi Tao was finally released from prison September 2013. It should be noted that his conviction was predicated by an email taken from his private account by Yahoo and given to the Chinese government. His crime, releasing a document of the Communist Party to an overseas Chinese democracy site.He served 8 years of a 13 year sentence. Congratulations Shi Tao, you made it. The following is a protest poem about the injustice suffered by Shi Tao, which I wrote 7 August 2008. It speaks for every person that promotes freedom and human dignity for all the repressed peoples of our world.


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