Skip to content

Reflections of a working writer and reader



June – a poem – a massacre – a torch


by Shi Tao

My whole life

Will never get past “June”
June, when my heart died
When my poetry died
When my lover
Died in romance’s pool of blood

June, the scorching sun burns open my skin
Revealing the true nature of my wound
June, the fish swims out of the blood-red sea
Toward another place to hibernate
June, the earth shifts, the rivers fall silent
Piled up letters unable to be delivered to the dead

Translated to English from Chinese by Chip Rolley

Shi Tao, a journalist and the author of this poem was imprisoned by the Chinese Government after forwarding to an overseas website a document from Chinese government censors warning their media not to report on the 15th anniversary of the June 4 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. Shi Tao was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment and 2 years’ deprivation of political rights. Although he remains in prison his poem is free and is following the Olympic torch around the world.

International PEN, the worldwide writers’ organisation, are campaigning for the release of around 40 writers currently imprisoned in China. Shi Tao is one of them.

2 Responses to “June – a poem – a massacre – a torch”

  1. Forget4it says:

    See also
    a reading of a version of this poem derived from Chip Rolley’s.