Famous calligrapher Liu Xitong‘Sonnet II: Liu Xitong’ and Other Poetry by Evan Mantyk The Society January 19, 2019 Beauty, Culture, Human Rights in China, Humor, Poetry 15 Comments Sonnet II: Liu Xitong Liu Xitong (pronounced Leo She-tong) recently spoke on Capitol Hill about the persecution he faced in communist China for his practice of Falun Gong. Read about the event and his story here. They strip him down, but cannot strip his soul. They splash on salty water tasting of The bitterness of years of state control, But cannot ruin sweetness from above. They scrape away the flesh upon his back And let the salt work stinging misery, But what they scrape away with their attack Reveals a flesh that knows no atrophy. They poke his fingers and his toes with needles, Pour burning liquid on his genitals And poison down his throat; such endless evils Try but fail to make sure goodness stalls. Though they can stop his hand’s calligraphy, His life has writ in blood: “Set China free.” Sonnet III: Richard Sternberg Mr. Sternberg is an evolutionary biologist who was fired from the Smithsonian after okaying the publishing of a peer-reviewed paper that mentioned intelligent design. Read his comments here. Watch a documentary featuring him here. Between the swirling motifs of the mollusk shell, And codes of nano-data stored to plan its shape, He sees intelligence that from a mind would swell And truths that Darwin’s startless story can’t escape. Without escape, the scientists instead attacked By using politics infused with Marx’s specter Against the clearer thinker, who was quickly sacked And wrongly labeled a religious benefactor. Within the path that tries reducing organisms To lower, dead, component parts and nothing more, A science unafraid that complex mechanisms Show signs of complex thought, gets slapped down to the floor. How does from almost nothing grow those splendid shells? Look up, not down! In other planes the answer dwells. Autumn Trees after Edger Allan Poe’s “Bells” See the passing forest trees— Autumn trees! How the garments of the year fall gently to their knees; How they tumble, tumble, tumble In the brilliant light of day Midst the forest stream’s soft mumble, Cloudless sky that has no rumble Under Heaven’s mighty sway. Shedding leaves, leaves, leaves, How sublimely nature grieves! What a lilting lamentation sung from lofty sylvan eaves: When from trees’ eaves leaves leave, We perceive Our own humbling in the crumbling of these trees. A Portrait of My Father He is juggling the eggs and the sausages too; He is guzzling his coffee, the finest of brew; He is flipping a flapjack quite effortlessly; He is Breakfast Man fighting to feed the hungry. He is riding his car to the airport midst rains; He is waiting and waiting but never complains; He is smiling and waving to us when we land; He’s our Captain who steers with the steadiest hand. He’s a sage who plants sage and tomatoes and chives; He is seeding the seedlings so each one survives; He’s a traveler trekking to lands far and wide; He’s a tinker and thinker, a hermit who’ll hide; He is most of all best of all Father of Men, Thus we rise and give honor to what he has been. Evan Mantyk is President of the Society and teaches English literature and history in the Hudson Valley region of New York. Views expressed by individual poets and writers on this website and by commenters do not represent the views of the entire Society. The comments section on regular posts is meant to be a place for civil and fruitful discussion. Pseudonyms are discouraged. The individual poet or writer featured in a post has the ability to remove any or all comments by emailing submissions@ classicalpoets.org with the details and under the subject title “Remove Comment.” Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) 15 Responses Sally Cook January 19, 2019 Evan, I cannot say which of the poems I like best. It may, however, be the one about Liu Xitong – another Leo, this time in China – its understated horror; the firm belief of something beyond the obvious, shining through the terrible literal descriptions of torture. Well done! Reply E. V. January 19, 2019 Thank you, Evan Mantyk, for demonstrating why the literary world needs The Society of Classical Poets. By honoring the traditions of formal poetry as an instrument of free speech, SCP gives voice to perspectives that are silenced in more mainstream, PC-compliant publications. Good work! Reply James Sale January 19, 2019 Very fine and very necessary poems for our times; they are all good, but I found your Sonnet 111 exceptional: it’s phraseology, “And truths that Darwin’s startless story can’t escape.” is quite brilliant, especially the neologism, ‘startless’, which exposes the imbecility of it all; the rhyming, especially ‘specter/benefactor’, which is ingenious; and the Shakespearean concluding couplet. If I may say so, from my perspective, your best-ever poem to date. Reply Amy Foreman January 20, 2019 I agree with James, Evan. Sonnet III is exceptional. Actually, each of these is a gem. Thank you for sharing them with us, and thank you for all you do at the SCP! Reply Joseph Charles MacKenzie January 19, 2019 Mantyk unleashed! The simply perfect use of the Shakespearean form of the sonnet and the boldness in providing a variation of its form—to draw out sense and music both—this is the hallmark of a great young poet, if the opinion of a humble New Mexican sonetero should hold any meaning. In case some have not noticed, he is also one of the most important editors of our time. These poems have broken the stranglehold of modernism’s all-consuming egocentrism which we see all too often, for example, in the endlessly lengthy, endlessly boring “woe is me” hospital experience poems going around these days. Mantyk’s “I” is universalizing, in the grand manner. There is also a rock-solid theological foundation underlying the sonnet to the poet’s father, something worthy of a dissertation in itself, although I can certainly understand how some would be blind to this. Reply C.B. Anderson January 19, 2019 If it exists, JCM, I would like to read that dissertation, if only to lift the scales from my eyes. Reply Joseph Charles MacKenzie January 19, 2019 Perhaps you will agree, Mr. Anderson, that our young poet is overdue for a collection—and then let the dissertations flow! C.B. Anderson January 19, 2019 These were all good, Evan, in the ways noted in the comments above, but I was most drawn to the “Richard Sternberg” piece, because, for many years now, I have been reading and collecting books very critical of the reductive doctrines Neo-Darwinism on logical and scientific grounds. Most of you should enjoy this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=po0ZMfkSNxc Some of you, as I did, might find that Father George was a bit too soft on Neo-Darwinism, perhaps due to his unfamiliarity with the writings I alluded to above. Dawkins is a scientistic [sic] bulldog, and should be confronted with a bit more vigor. But Father George is far too polite and measured for that. Reply David Paul Behrens January 19, 2019 All of these poems, on various subjects, are excellent. In terms of using nature to portray pure beauty and a subtle, but deep meaning, I think my favorite is ‘Autumn Trees.’ Reply Charles Southerland January 19, 2019 Dear Mr. Mantyk, I really enjoyed your hexameters. Well done. Reply C.B. Anderson January 19, 2019 I’m sure you will agree, Mr. MacKenzie, that “young” is a relative term, though for me it is an absolute description of what I no longer am. My thoughts ever gravitate toward the great I AM, without which all endeavor is vain and futile. Reply Joe Tessitore January 19, 2019 amidst all that you do there’s a grand poet too! Well done, Evan! Reply James A. Tweedie January 19, 2019 Evan, I have never been a big fan of Poe’s, “Bells.” I would say that your “Autumn Leaves” improves his idea and carries it forward to a better place, especially as regards your amusing word play. Reply David Watt January 20, 2019 From the confronting, and well-wrought “Sonnet II: Liu Xitong to “A Portrait of My Father”, there is great versatility displayed. My favorite is “Autumn Leaves” for lines including: What a lilting lamentation sung from lofty sylvan eaves: Reply Evan Mantyk January 20, 2019 Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your kind comments! I am privileged to have such accomplished readers and look forward to working with all of you in the new year. Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.