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Mainstream, VOL LV No 31 New Delhi July 22, 2017

Ode to Liu Xiaobo

Saturday 22 July 2017

The following is a poem composed as a tribute to Liu Xiaobo, Nobel Laureate and political prisoner who recently passed away in Chinese custody.

An empty chair!

His presence was denied

to receive the award;

the message of peace forbidden

as a brand of the West.


The dragon raised the wall,

spewing yellow fire,

stifling the voice of dissent

within the prison cell.

The outside world was shut off.


Days dawned; nights deepened.

Afflicted with a disease,

he suffered political chill too.

Nobody knows how he was

treated behind the bars.

The dark of confines took its toll.

Deadly cancer ate

into the vitals of his body.

Then it was terminal; he died,

isolated under armed guard.


A stubborn truth-teller,

he fought for freedom—freedom

from forceful tyranny

of one-party rule, championing

non-violence in resistance.


A grim ending in custody,

still censored in death,

reverberates the clarion call

of democracy across the borders.

His soul will live forever in memory.

Ajit Kumar Das

July 17, 2017

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