Photo of Dr. Li WenliangA Poem on Li Wenliang, Doctor Who Exposed the Coronavirus, by Bruce Dale Wise The Society February 6, 2020 Culture, Human Rights in China, News of Note, Poetry 14 Comments Li Wenliang (1985 – 2020) by Dr. Weslie Ubeca Li Wenliang, an ophthalmologist, worked in Wuhan; and when he saw the new coronavirus coming on, attempted to alert the public to the dread disease; but he was quickly silenced by the Wuhan thought police. Li Wenliang, December 30, on WeChat, confirmed that seven cases from the Huanan Seafood Market were coronavirus carriers. But the police demurred… for making comments on the Internet that were absurd. Li Wenliang, on January 12, was taken to the quarantine located in the Wuhan ICU. An ECMO had been used to rescue him. In short, they tried. But it was all in vain. On February 6, he died. 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) 14 Responses C.B. Anderson February 6, 2020 The moral of the story is: don’t live in China, and don’t get too close to your patients. Reply David Paul Behrens February 7, 2020 This should make us all realize how fortunate we are to live in America. Reply D Robin February 8, 2020 Or, if you are in China, trust to a higher force than the CCP. Reply Allegra Silberstein February 7, 2020 So true this sad ending for a brave and caring doctor telling the truth. It is the same story of not listening to so many who are telling us the truth. Reply D Robin February 8, 2020 Dr Li R. I. P. Li wore a mask, not for disguise, but not to breathe in people’s eyes, to not infect them with disease of common cold or foggy wheeze. His woven mask did not put stops on how a vicious bugger hops from one infected to the next who then them-self also infects. Some changed his mask into barbed wire, stopped his words, made them expire. But even though his words seemed dead that did not stop the virus spread. Death can’t be stopped by killing words — that’s just the CCP’s absurds. Reply Monty February 8, 2020 I’m 90% sure, Damian, that there’s no such word as “absurds”. You’ll find that the plural of ‘absurd’ is ‘absurdities’. Reply D Robin February 10, 2020 You’re right, Monty. No such word existed. Now it does, though it may not be used much. Made-up words can be called a neologisms. (However, there may be a more specific term for the first use of a new term — see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neologism And the fourth part of https://www.dictionary.com/browse/neologism may put me out there as slightly bonkers.) In the poem, ‘absurds’ is used to show the absurdity of what the CCP tried to do. Monty February 10, 2020 It was only last year, Damien – and through these pages – that I first learnt of the word ‘neologism’; and upon doing so, I immediately viewed it with suspicion. It’s said that the English is the richest of all modern languages, with more than 200,000 words currently in use . . does anyone genuinely feel that that’s not enough? That IS enough; that’s plenty; we’re blessed with such an abundance. We don’t need neologisms! We simply can’t have a system of language whereby members of the public can decide to make up a new word. That in itself is an “absurdity”. Especially when it’s done for the wrong reasons, as in: 1/ Someone’s looking for a word to fit into their poem: “Ugh, I’m really stuck here; I just can’t think of a word . . I know, I’ll invent one”. See? What a vile notion that is. That’s not what writing poetry’s about; and that’s not what poets are about; anyone can invent a word. ‘Writer’s block’ is a necessary and vital part of a poet’s craft: it shows that they’re willing to wait as long as it takes to draw the right and proper word(s) from our language. Days, if need be! Generally, the word(s) will come eventually . . but if they don’t, the poet then has to decide: “Well, I’ve tried my hardest: I just can’t find the right word(s). I’m gonna have to re-arrange the whole stanza”. And it may be a stanza with which the poet’s fully content, and it’s gonna be a real wrench having to discard it, but . . . THAT is the sacred discipline of writing poetry, Damien. The truth of poetry. The relationship between the poet and the language. Are you now trying to tell me that such sacred discipline is no longer required for writing poetry? That the moment the right word doesn’t come to mind immediately, and a thesaurus doesn’t bear any fruits . . we can just invent a word to fit easily and conveniently (AND QUICKLY) into our poem? ‘Coz that’s exactly what you’ve done above, Damien: no more, no less. You were simply looking for a word to rhyme with ‘words’, couldn’t think of one, hence, you invented ‘absurds’. The utmost in laziness. In fact, it’s worse than laziness; laziness would be to settle for a proper word which doesn’t rhyme fully with ‘words’ . . but to make one up? Phew! This neologism thing is off the scale. Not only does ‘absurds’ LOOK incongruous on the page: a visual anomaly . . but it IS incongruous. You then had the audacity to say: “No such word existed, now it does”. What d’you mean “now it does”? It doesn’t! It can’t! If it did, if we were able to say in speech: “Well, we all know about her absurds, don’t we” . . then another could say: “Well, we all know about her outrageouses, don’t we” . . or “Well, we all know about her stupids, don’t we” . . and where would it stop? See? ‘Absurds’ can never exist. It’s ‘her absurdities’.. ‘her outrages’.. ‘her stupidity’ . . THAT is our language. Appreciate it. Treasure it. But don’t violate it. You may feel that my use of the word ‘laziness’ was harsh, Damien: allow me to convey the true context in which it was used: once you realised that you were stuck for a word to rhyme with ‘words’ . . . with just a bit of thought and imagination, you might’ve changed the whole thing from.. Death can’t be stopped by killing words – That’s just the CCP’s absurds. ..to something like Death can’t be stopped by word-restraint; That’s just the CCP’s sick plaint. (I’m aware that my use of the word ‘plaint’ might be considered loose, but I was just seeking a quick example). Now, I don’t say this boastfully, Damien, but I fashioned those two lines in the time it takes a kettle to boil, but it’s irrelevant how long it does or doesn’t take; it’s simply a case of finding a way to maintain the poetic discipline. On another day, if I was writing a poem myself, those two lines may’ve taken me 40 minutes . . it doesn’t matter, ‘coz I’m doing things properly. Hence, ‘twas lazy of you not to even consider re-arranging the whole stanza. 2/ In some cases, I feel that these neologisms are just an ‘ego’ thing, as in: “Hey, look everyone.. I’ve just invented a new word for our language”. Bruce, the author of the above poem (in which the ‘dread’ in L3 should read as ‘dreaded’; or, to maintain the meter, ‘feared’) has long been trying to foist his own neologisms upon the SCP readership in the hope that others may adopt them, seemingly just for the potential prestige/glamour which such adoption might afford him; but they end up being disregarded, and serve no purpose other than being a visual blight on the page. And I always think: why bother? All those proper words we’ve got at our disposal, many of which we’ll never even hear in our lifetime. Why? Why? With the constant evolution of our language, I’m aware that times come, periodically, when lexicographers have occasion to officially enter their own necessary ‘neologisms’ into our dictionaries; and that’s how things should be. Leave it to them. I’m also aware that, over the centuries, several poets have invented neologisms which subsequently entered our language; but these were renowned, established poets for whom poetry was their livelihood, real men of letters who could be trusted to invent neologisms only for the purest of reasons. And that’s how it should be. For anyone less to attempt to do so is, I feel, a crime against our language. I hope you’ve been able to gather, Damien, that although this comment was initially directed towards you, it transpired at some stage into a general rant against neologisms, and a rant against anyone who feels they’ve got a right to (mis)use them when writing poetry. I’d advise anyone reading this: If you’ve got the word ‘neologisms’ floating around in your head . . get it outta there! You don’t need ‘em; we don’t need ‘em; they’re the enemy of poetry. Diane Spencer February 12, 2020 Hi Monty, You must go really bonkers when you read Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll 🙂 Monty February 13, 2020 Not at all, Diane; ‘nonsense poetry’ is a recognised ‘type of poetry’. Just as we have ‘humorous poetry’ and ‘confessional poetry’, so we have ‘nonsense poetry’ (of which, Jabberwocky is probably the most famous example). And what purpose would ‘nonsense poetry’ serve without nonsense words? It’s the perfect venue for neologisms. But there they must remain. It doesn’t mean we can simply make-up a word when we’re writing OTHER types of poetry (just because we can’t think of an existing word from our language). Like I said above, just imagine if we had free rein to stray from the correct English of: “Well, we all know about her absurdities, don’t we” . . to “Well, we all know about her absurds, don’t we” . . can’t you see that it would then be open-house for anyone to write literally anything? Instead of: “She’s known for her sharpness” . . we’d have: “She’s known for her sharps”. Need I say more? I said above that neologisms are the enemy of poetry; perhaps I should qualify that by saying that neologisms are the enemy of all types of poetry except ‘nonsense poetry’. Perhaps I should also emphasise that I’ve got nothing against neologisms themselves: only neologisms being used in the writing of poetry. Although I only learnt of the word last year, I saw immediately that neologisms themselves are integral to the natural evolution of our language. For example, there once was a time when humans in the western-world subsisted strictly on three meals per day: breakfast, lunch and dinner; which they consumed strictly at those three times of day, in accordance with the uniformity of life back then. But in recent decades, our daily existence has become immeasurably more varied, and some now dispense with breakfast and lunch, instead having a slightly larger meal around 11am to serve both purposes. And as we all know, a term was coined for this new mealtime in our lives: brunch, a simple amalgam of breakfast and lunch. Lexicographers would’ve decided: “Well, if this ‘11am thing’ is gonna become a normal part of life, then it warrants having its own definitive word”. Thus, next time the dictionary was updated, ‘brunch’ was entered. And what a valid and vital entry it was! It meant we no longer had to say: “Shall we wait till 11 and have a combination of breakfast and lunch?” . . we could just say: “Shall we have brunch?” The way I see it, Diane, THAT is the way in which neologisms should be used: when they’re a valid and vital addition to our language. Compare that to someone writing a line in a poem: ‘Well, after all, she’s known for her sharps’. Even just visually, it looks wrong: like a blight on the page . . but when one then considers that it was done for no other reason other than ‘sharps’ is a convenient rhyme for a word above! No . . poetry’s better than that. p.s. I don’t know which ones, but it’s said that several words from Jabberwocky which were made-up by Carroll . . subsequently entered our language – hence our dictionaries – and still remain in everyday-use. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that Carroll wrote the piece with the explicit intention of coining new words for our language. Who knows? Perhaps it was the case that after Jabberwocky entered the public domaine, the said words became so popular with the people that the lexicographer(s) of the time decided they warranted an official entry into the language. It’s only a thought. Beau Lecsi Werd February 12, 2020 Actually there are over a million words in the English language. Worthy neologisms are a healthy indicator of an advancing language, and are an important part of a poet’s repertoire. Reply Monty February 12, 2020 . . but the term “healthy neologism” is redundant, ‘coz what one person sees as ‘healthy’, another may see as ‘unhealthy’: or what a hundred people see as ‘healthy’, a hundred may see as ‘unhealthy’. In which case, there can never be a definitive term ‘healthy neologism’. The only way ‘neologisms’ can be defined or described is thus: ‘A small minority of people feel they’ve got the right to use them, but the majority know better’. Reply Monty February 12, 2020 Each of my uses of ‘healthy’ or ‘unhealthy’ above . . should read ‘worthy’ or ‘unworthy’. An elementary error on my behalf. Beau Lecsi Werd February 14, 2020 More important than using neologisms in poetry, is using terms, as Dr. Weslie Ubeca has done in his dodeca, terms, like ophthalmologist, coronavirus, WeChat, ICU, and ECMO. 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