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Lee Min-yung / 李敏勇

Lee Min-yung / 李敏勇

Lee Min-yung (b. 1947) was born in Kaohsiung. A history major, he began to publish poetry in 1967. A poet, critic and social activist, he has served as editor-in-chief of the Li Poetry and was president of Taiwan PEN. Winner of 2007 National Arts Award in literature, he has published several books of poems, essays and translations. His poetry collections include Requiem (1990), The Wildlife Thinking (1990), Landscapes under Martial Law (1990), A Tilted Island (1993), Sonata in Soul (1999) and A Poet’s Confession (2009). He has also compiled many volumes of poetry by Taiwanese poets. His works feature a strong sense of commitment to society and reflection on the ethics of aesthetics.

E-mail: lees23913221@yahoo.com.tw


Dream /


After nightfall

There was a crack in reality

Through which

I escaped


Although you

Had imprisoned me

Like a convict sentenced to life


I was free

After the escape


You could not capture the lines of my palms of love

You could not capture the traces of my feet of hatred


(Trans: William Marr)



The World of Negatives / 底片的世界


Shut the windows and doors

pull down the shades

cut off all destructive light

in the darkroom

we open the camera carefully

and take out the negatives

they capture the scenery of our lives

making the visible invisible

they record the reality of our deaths

turning experience into fantasy

we carefully put

the negatives into the developer

so they can paint

the joys of our lives

in positive shapes

or describe the sorrows of our deaths

with obscure colors

when all the details appear

we remove the negatives

and put them into the fixer

they carry the love of our lives

in special symbols

they bear the hatred of our deaths

in complex forms

from this moment on

we don’t need to be so careful

we rinse the negatives with clean water

and when the impurities are washed away

and the stains gone

we will be able to recollect our time

with pure proofs from the file of history


(Trans: William Marr)



Boundaries / 邊界


An island surrounded by the blue ocean

has no boundary.


An island under the bright sky

has no boundary.


Also, who are they

building the bastion of iron to delimit boundaries?


The barbed wires

restrict the yearning for long voyages.


The boom nets

restrict the hope of flying free.


(Trans: K. C. Tu)


A Prayer at the Bridge between the Centuries / 在世紀之橋的禱詞


War is consigned to history

Disaster to memory

The scars and tears form a natural screen

In a drizzle

A rainbow appears like a bridge between the centuries

At the end and the beginning of time

Separating past and future

Now it is

Dusk at century’s end

After the fall of night

The stars will point the way

Through the darkness

The light on the horizon shines on the house of the rising sun

Formosa remains in the sea’s embrace

Brewing dreams

Above the horizon

Together, her people call out



(Trans: John Balcom)



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