1988 / 7月
What is beyond greatness
Is Man's sense of loss in the presence of greatness.
Here War sits and weeps for the dead.
Seventy thousand souls sink to a realm deeper than sleep.
Cold is the sun, cold the stars and the moon,
Cold lies the Pacific, once seething and sizzling with plunging shells.
Smith, Williams, even glory stretches no arms to welcome you home.
Your names, telegraphed home, were colder than the wintry sea.
Betrayed by death, God is helpless about your helplessness.
The negative of greatness was developed in blood.
Here even War himself cries and greatness smiles not.
Thousands of crosses bloom into an orchard, a lily lane, unshaken against the wind, against the rain.
Silent to the gaze of Manila Bay and pale,
To the tourists' lenses Smith, Williams,
On the confused lenses. Of death, where is the landscape often visited by youthful eyes?
Where were kept the records and slides of spring?
Mckinley Fort, where birds have no heart to sing,
And leaves, no heart to dance around.
Any sound will stab the silence and make it bleed.
Here is space beyond space, time beyond clock.
Here even the speechless gray horizon speaks more than the dead.
Soundproof garden of the dead, scenery of the living.
Here, where God comes and also come the motorcars and the town,
Smith and Williams will neither come for leave.
Motionless as a dial without a clock, sightless as the face of years,
In the darkness of high noon, in the starlessness of the night,
Their eyes are shut upon the seasons and the years,
Upon a world that never dies a complete death,
And a green lawn, green beyond my grief.
Here death reaps a rich harvest in the marble fields,
Where gaze the stars and stripes, timelessness and clouds.
McKinley Fort, where white crosses dash on white crosses
As dash the white surfs against the Pacific coast,
Where a great bas-relief of compassion is silhouetted
Against the blackest background of black doom.
Thirty thousand stories are burning in white restlessness.
Smith, Williams, when sunset sets the mango groves on wildfire,
(Even God is ready to depart, and stars fall in a downpour)
You cannot go anywhere, anywhere.
There is no door to the grim bottom of the Pacific.
(tr. by Yu Kwang-chung)
Note: Fort McKinley near Manila is a memorial erected after World War Ⅱ, where 70,000 American soldiers who died fighting in the Pacific are buried.
Seventy thousand crosses of white marble stretch on the grass hill, a sight full of solemnity and sorrow. One cannot but mourn at the tragic loss of those thousands of lives, each with a colorful story, buried by death fore-ever.
Lomen was a former student at the Flight School of the Chinese Air Force Academy, and later graduated from the Aircraft Accident Investigation School of the Federal Aviation Administration in the United States. He was also a former highly skilled technician at the aviation center.
Lomen has been writing poetry for more than thirty years, and is recognized by the world of poetics as being a major poet who has contributed much and has had a great influence on the development of contemporary Chinese poetry. At the same time he is considered to be a poet who has been successful in penetrating the mind of mankind and capturing various topics of life as well as expressing the thoughts and spirit of human beings.
In 1958, he won the Blue Star Prize and the Chinese Poetry Association Prize. Then in 1966, his masterpiece "Fort McKinley" was cited as an outstanding poem by the United Poets Laureate International and won a gold medal from President Ferdinand E. Marcos of the Philippines. In 1976, Lomen, accompanied by his wife Yungtze, was crowned poet laureate at the Third World Congress of Poets held in the United States. In 1987, a Citation for Poetry Education was conferred on Lomen by the R.O.C. Ministry of Education.
The Kwan Fu Book Co., in its recent publication of Lomen's poetic works entitled The Whole World Stops Breathing at the Starting Point of the Race, has the following to say: "This is a spectacular work of the great master Lomen. Concerning the four major topics of civilization, war, city, and nature, this noble leader of modern spirit continues his mental perception and reflection. . . . In such a work as 'Song of Time and Space--Looking at the Canton-Kowloon Railway in the Distance,' Lomen courageously uncovers the fate of the Chinese people. It's moving and may be considered a classical work in the modern Chinese epic."
At present, Lomen is director of the Blue Star Poetry Association, and was former director of the Poetry Workshop of the Chinese Literature & Art Association, judge for national poetry competitions, and a lecturer and modern poetry in several domestic universities and colleges. His works have been criticized by several famous scholars, critics, and poets in essays amounting to nearly 300,000 Chinese characters.
Lomen's works have been translated into English, French, Japanese, and Korean, and included in many poetry anthologies, including An Anthology of Ten Major Contemporary Poets. The poet is author of a ten-volume set of poetry and a four-volume thesis. In 1970 he was listed in International Who's Who in Poetry.