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Poetry Intro

First Poem

Second Poem

Third Poem

Fourth Poem

Fourth Poem

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Numerous carvings and writings in several languages have been found on the barracks walls of the Angel Island Immigration Station. The overwhelming majority of these remarkable writings are poems written in Chinese, many of them carved into the wooden walls of the buildings.

Most of the poems are written in the styles of classical Chinese poetry which originated during the T'ang Dynasty period. They express a range of thoughts and feelings about dealing with the hardships of migrating so far from home and the difficult conditions they faced once they arrived.

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Poem   Imprisoned in the wooden building day after day,
My freedom withheld; how can I bear to talk about it?
I look to see who is happy but they only sit quietly.
I am anxious and depressed and cannot fall asleep.
The days are long and bottle constantly empty; my sad mood, even so, is not dispelled.
Nights are long and the pillow cold; who can pity my loneliness?
After experiencing such loneliness and sorrow,
Why not just return home and learn to plow the fields?

Reprinted with permission from University of Washington Press.

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