by Lu Xun, translated from the Chinese into English by Matt Turner
I’m walking alongside a high, peeling wall, stamping loose dust. Several others walk alone. A breeze comes up, and tree branches above the wall, with still-unwithered leaves, shake over my head.
A breeze comes up, and everything’s dust.
A child in a lined shirt begs from me. He doesn’t seem to be suffering. A charade of blocking and kowtows—this crying after me.
I loathe his tone, his pose. Detest that he isn’t suffering grief—it’s just a game! I’m tired of him chasing me, whining.
I walk on. Several others walk alone. A breeze comes up, and everything’s dust.
A child in a lined shirt begs from me. He doesn’t seem to suffer. It’s a charade as he dumbly holds his hands out, a gesture.
I loathe such gestures. Maybe he’s not even mute and this is just his way of begging.
I don’t give alms, I don’t have a heart. I’m over alms, I give them boredom, doubt, and hate.
I’m walking alongside a defeated, muddy wall, broken bricks folded into holes, and beyond the wall is nothing. A breeze comes up, sends fall cold through my clothes, and everything’s dust.
I’m wondering what method I should use for begging. Sound: what tone? Act: what gesture?
A few others walk alone.
I’ll take no alms, no heart. I’ll take boredom, doubt and hate over alms.
I’ll use inaction and silence to beg!…
Whatever comes I’ll take the void.
A breeze comes up, and everything’s dust. Several others walk alone.
September 24, 1924
Matt Turner is the author of the full poetry collections Slab Pases (BlazeVox, 2022), Wave 9: Collages (Flying Islands, 2020) and Not Moving (Broken Sleep, 2019), in addition to the prose chapbooks City/Anti-City (Vitamin, 2022) and Be Your Dog (Economy, 2022). He is co-translator, with Weng Haiying, of work by Yan Jun, Ou Ning, Hu Jiujiu and others. He lives in New York City, where he works as a translator and copy editor.