Leaving behind my writing brush and
removing my sword, I came to America.
Who was to know two streams of tears would flow upon arriving here?
If there comes a day when I will have attained my ambition and become successful,
I will certainly behead the barbarians and spare not a single blade of grass.
This poem is carved into the walls of the Angel Island Immigration Station on Angel Island in San Francisco Bay and was rediscovered in 1976. The author is unknown but was an hopeful Chinese immigrant who was held in the detention barracks for anywhere from three weeks to two years while being investigated under the auspices of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. Most of these detainees where well educated and ambitious but because of fear of the US government, their was little talking amongst the detainees.
Poem Translations Courtesy of University of Washington Press. "Island: Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island, 1910-1940", ISBN 0-295-97109-6.
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