Poem: “Eye of the Empire” By Woeser

High Peaks Pure Earth presents an English translation by Palden Gyal of Woeser’s poem “Eye of the Empire, originally published by the Mandarin service of Radio Free Asia and published on her blog on February 9, 2018.

The poem very much relates to the above image of a surveillance camera in Lhasa, presented in the guise of a prayer wheel. For more on the pervasive use of surveillance technologies in Tibet and Xinjiang, see the introduction to the previous post “Tibet Enters into the Era of Facial Recognition ATMs”.

Thank you to Palden Gyal for the translation.

“Eye of the Empire”
By Woeser

 

What kind of eye is that?
Yet, it must be an eye of utmost desires:
An eye of greed, anger, ignorance, jealousy, and pride –filled with wisps of blood.
Among the Six Paths, this eye of all beings neither save itself nor saved by,
And such is then accordant with the image of a powerful empire!
That day, he arrived without any invitation, the pale-faced scholar.
Keeping an overtly chastened smile
Yet his movements are not at all that modest,
As he quickly occupied the seat in the center
Exposed his fangs like the glittering of frost and snow,
Revealed his claws like that of an eagle’s sharp claws.
I dare not look into his eyes anymore,
His eyes are blazing with the five poisons
And it can easily control and capture souls.
 

January 19, 2018, Beijing

 
 

This post is also available in: Chinese (Simplified)