Stone Walls Sometimes a Prison Make

What might have happened once in Carolina
To folks whose only wish was for some peace
Is commonplace within the Wall of China,
Where persons are abused without surcease.

A so-called government that treats its people
Like livestock destined for the autumn slaughter
Will generate excuses that are feeble,
Without the slightest care for son or daughter

Deprived of human rights, there is no doubt.
We wonder why that Wall, so tall and wide,
Was ever built: To keep invaders out?
Or keep the true barbarians inside?


Praise for the Mother of Summer

The same thing happens every spring:
The daffodils awaken wonder
As they show off their golden bling,
And episodes of rolling thunder
Begin to cause our ears to ring;
The pall of winter’s torn asunder
As light infuses everything,
And rising forces put us under

Persephone’s compelling spell.
In every clime there is a kernel
Of beneficial truth to tell
Regarding the essential vernal,
In which all creatures fare so well.
The rites of springtime are eternal,
Their quickening power nonpareil,
As I have noted in my journal.



C.B. Anderson was the longtime gardener for the PBS television series, The Victory Garden.  Hundreds of his poems have appeared in scores of print and electronic journals out of North America, Great Britain, Ireland, Austria, Australia and India.  His collection, Mortal Soup and the Blue Yonder was published in 2013 by White Violet Press.

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5 Responses

  1. Evan

    The wall of China is restyled by wealthy communists,
    Of godless and inhuman bricks this blood red wall consists,
    Extending past the rightful borders that it meant to guard,
    And silently attacking with their money’s martial art,
    Through global trade, and colleges, and Hollywood,
    Our way of life, each inch by inch, has not so far withstood.
    Beware the rise of modern dragons who have no esteem,
    For ancient ways, tradition’s font, for good old fashioned dreams.
    The Party is a hated beast that soon must meet its end,
    When that is done, the wall I hope will t’ward the heavens bend.

    Global Trade:

    • C.B. Anderson

      Your poem here is a tennos, is it not? It is poignant and to the point. I was also very interested in the articles to which the links led, especially the one pertaining to colleges. Now, I suppose that Confucius might have had something of interest to say to an inquiring western mind, but I can only recall a wry mis-attributed saying that my departed father used to recite: He who walks on water gets wet feet. I’m sure Confucius was much better than that, but I wonder whether the current regime in China is in any position to comment on, or to claim sympathy with, that icon of Chinese wisdom.

      • Evan

        A tennos indeed! There is something to Bruce Dale Wise’s discovery of it. Ideas come out very naturally and quickly I have found. When creating a plain English version of the Iliad for my students a few years ago, I wanted to put a section of Pope’s translation at the beginning of each book and found that the ideas came out, not in 14-line sonnet-like chunks as I thought, but in 10-line chunks…

        Confucius has been in recent years hijacked by the Chinese Communist Party. Confucius was deeply spiritual:

        “The power of spiritual forces in the Universe—how active it is everywhere! Invisible to the eyes, and impalpable to the senses, it is inherent in all things, and nothing can escape its operation. It is the fact that there are these forces which make men in all countries fast and purify themselves.”

        He was also a standard-bearer of harmony among social classes:

        “Finding himself in a position of wealth and honour, he lives as becomes one living in a position of wealth and honour. Finding himself in a position of poverty and humble circumstances, he lives as becomes one living in a position of poverty and humble circumstances. Finding himself in uncivilized countries, he lives as becomes one living in uncivilized countries. Finding himself in circumstances of danger and difficulty, he acts according to what is required of a man under such circumstances. In one word, the moral man can find himself in no situation in life in which he is not master of himself.” (both quotes from Doctrine of Mean, Ku Hung-ming translation)

        Communism directly opposes belief in the divine and traditional morality and it opposes harmony among social classes. Thus, the Chinese Communist Party originally was against Confucian teachings, suppressing and persecuting Confucian scholars. However, in the last 20 or so years, it has cleverly rejuvenated Confucius on the premise that he (1) simply stands for China and Chinese people (and his beliefs were naturally backward as a function of the time in which he lived, and the Confucian scholars were now nonexistent) (2) that Confucius encourages loyalty to the monarch and the nation, the modern equivalent seeming to be the Communist Party itself. Quite twisted and evil!

  2. James A. Tweedie

    I read the same eye-opening article in Politico earlier this week. Confucius Institutes, Islamic Institutes and other amply-funded programs have been allowed on university campuses, each designed to lure students (and faculty) onto the Lorelei of their particular “isms.” They are defended, of course, as promoting diversity and tolerance. The so-called Institutes, of course, promote neither. Money talks,” they say, and as far as American Universities are concerned, they appeae to be all ears.

    Note to C.B.: Thoughtful and articulate poems. Marxist/Leninist walls always seem to be built to keep people in. If the US were to build a border wall it would be to keep people out. As your first poem makes clear, that distinction makes all the difference in the world.

    • C.B. Anderson


      Although it might happen at times, I would hate to think that anything I wrote was thoughtless. And when it comes to being articulate, I wish that poets, of any stripe, would steer clear of suspending normative English grammar when conveying their ideas. I think that such practices do nothing to advance the ideas they are trying to convey (unless the idea is sheer deconstructionism); it comes off like picking one’s nose in public, or worse. Robert Frost’s “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall” notwithstanding, I think that boundaries are important, which is one of the reasons I have lately chosen to write formal poetry only.


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