Struggles of the Cultural Revolution in Bei Dao's "Notes from the City of the Sun"

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Struggles of the Cultural Revolution Revealed in Bei Dao’s “Notes from the City of the Sun” In his poem, “Notes from the City of the Sun”, Bei Dao utilizes obscure imagery consistent with the Misty Poets and veiled political references to illustrate the struggles in Chinese society during the Cultural Revolution. The poem is sectioned into fourteen short stanzas containing imagery that are symbolic of the cultural hegemony in China under the rule of Mao Zedong. Bei Dao, born Zhao Zhen-kai, is an anti-revolutionary poet and one of the founders of a group known as the Misty Poets. The Misty Poets wrote poems that protested the Cultural Revolution led by Mao Zedong. Therefore, a lot of Bei Dao’s poems speak out against the Cultural …show more content…
In this stanza, the speaker describes the dawning of a new day; however at the same time, the speaker is sarcastically referring to the dawning of a new day in the life under the communist rule of Mao Zedong. A repeat of the sun imagery occurs in the seventh stanza, describing art as a shattered mirror reflecting “a million scintillating suns” (Dao 21). The relation of art to a shattered mirror refers to the artists and the intellectuals who suffered the most under the Cultural Revolution. Ma states that this stanza represents the guaranteed survival of art because, although shattered, “art still glittered in its splintered dying pieces” (85). Contrary to Ma’s interpretation, since the sun represents Mao, this stanza can be interpreted as the reconstruction of all art to depict and venerate Mao. According to McDougall, the sun imagery is obvious to the native reader, but it is not so readily understandable to the foreign reader (“Problems and Possibilities” 45). Bei Dao uses the obscure sun imagery recurrently in “Notes” to implicitly confront Mao Zedong’s actions during the Cultural Revolution. A poem written by a Misty Poet always talks about the restriction on the expression of freedom. In the third stanza of “Notes”, the speaker gives the audience the imagery of “scraps of torn

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