ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

Chengdu is known as a city of writers, with an especially strong community of poets. And we wondered whether last week's earthquake had already started filtering into poetry. Well, it has. Forty-five-year-old He Xiaozhu is a full-time writer in Chengdu. He was working on a novel on the second floor of a teahouse when the earthquake hit. Yesterday, he completed a poem about the earthquake. It's titled "Elegy." We'll have an English translation in a moment. First, though, here is He Xiaozhu reading his poem in Chinese.

Mr. HE XIAOZHU (Writer): (Foreign language spoken)

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

Thousands upon thousands of anguished cries, returning to silence and tranquility. Heavenly acts cannot be predicted. The moon over Wenchuan, still a question mark. Aftershocks extend to Chengdu. Sorrow engulfs half the world. Tears turn to ice. Let candlelight melt them away. Children, climb on a dandelion and line up for heaven.

That's the poem "Elegy," written by He Xiaozhu of Chengdu. He says he wrote the poem both for those who died and also for himself, as a way of releasing what has been collecting in his heart.

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