Once I chatted with an elderly man
just released from jail, who had no choice but
bottom-level jobs. I tried consoling
him that it was, after all, better than
staying INSIDE. In reply he said that
actually it's not so bad INSIDE
once you got used to things there, but it was
very uncomfortable to be out.
There was equality between inmates,
the same food, the same work; we slept and rose
the same hours; true it is that you had not
any freedom, and had to obey rules there,
but no jealousy of any kind; you must
accept your fate. Yet out here things are dif-
ferent, now you have so much to compare:
Look at your life, and look at other folks',
bitterness you'll feel when you see others
wine and dine, extreme upset and discom-
fort in heart: Not respected as a con
inside, must adjust behaviors in re-
sponse to orders, that was something mental
prepared, and something you had to admit.
But out in th' world, looked down upon every-
where just because you're damned poor, that's too hard,
too hard for me to admit that; upon
which I asked: Then would you prefer to be
back there? He smiled: Though life is not comfort-
able outside, at least I can choose to
go back at any time. But I can't choose
to get out prison when I desire likewise.
A smart reply that is, some wisdom can
be read into it: freedom does not nec-
essarily yield wealth, but it entails
the right to choose, whether to buy houses
of astonishing high price (in Shanghai)
or to look on with silly optimism.
Copyright@ April 14th,2018.
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In ten-syllable lines of alternating iambic and trochaic stanzas.
Based on an entry by "Young Lawyer in Shanghai"(上海滩小律师)in his Sina Weibo(Chinese Twitter) .
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.I would like to translate this poem