Pacific Link: The KQED Asian Education Initiative
History Timelines Lesson Plans Community Resources

Poetry Intro

First Poem

Second Poem

Third Poem

Fourth Poem

First Poem

Listen in Mandarin
Windows Media
Real Audio
  Listen in Cantonese
Windows Media
Real Audio

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.

Download the free media players: Windows Media Player | Real Player

Poem   Originally, I had intended to come to America last year.
Lack of money delayed me until early autumn.
It was on the day that the Weaver Maiden met the Cowherd
That I took passage on the President Lincoln.
I ate wind and tasted waves for more than twenty days.
Fortunately, I arrived safely on the American continent.
I thought I could land in a few days.
How was I to know I would become a prisoner suffering in the wooden building?
The barbarians'
2 abuse is really difficult to take.
When my family's circumstances stir my emotions, a double stream of tears flow.
I only wish I can land in San Francisco soon.
Thus sparing me the additional sorrow here.

Reprinted with permission from University of Washington Press.
1 Better known as the "Festival of the Seventh Day of the Seventh Moon," the Qiqiao Festival is widely celebrated among the Cantonese. As the legend of the Cowherd (Niulang) and the Weaver Maiden (Zhinu) is told, the Weaver Maiden in heaven one day fell in love with a mortal Cowherd. After their marriage, her loom, which once wove garments for the gods, fell silent. Angered by her dereliction of duty, the gods ordered her back to work. She was separated from the Cowherd by the Silver Stream or Milky Way, with the Cowherd in the Constellation Aquila and she across the Heavenly River in the Constellation Lyra. The couple was allowed to meet only once a year on the seventh day of the seventh moon, when the Silver Stream is spanned by a bridge of magpies. On this day, maidens display toys, figurines, artificial fruits and flowers, embroidery and other examples of their handiwork, so that men can judge their skills. It is also customary for girls to worship and make offerings of the fruits to the gods.
2 A Cantonese term for Westerner.

KQED Inc. All Rights Reserved. ?>