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The female soldiers in the Long March

The long March is a heroic and epic story. Edgar Snow, the earliest reporter of the Long March, said in his book "Red Star Over China", "One day someone will write this exciting epic." After much investigation I started this bold attempt to use poetic language to describe the Long March.

How can the Long March be displayed in artistic fashion? We know the Red Army conquered many hardships in the arduous environment, and came to victory from failures. How can recreate them? I started the creation in these kinds of thinking. As a result, I knew what I needed was a combination of narrative and lyrical, to visualize the Long March spirit, and make the iron-willed and unbending Red Army soldiers vivid, to ensure the Long March spirit naturally penetrated people's hearts.

One of my best friends suggested I should write more about the female Red Army soldiers, who died quietly, in unknown fields or swallowed by boggy ground, leaving no name. My friend said she had repeatedly been touched by the female soldiers of the Red Army in the Long March. They are the best part of the poem.    

I went to libraries, talked to retired cadres and the old soldiers of the Red Army to get more information. Little by little, the Long March became more vivid. I began recreate the journey, and time and time again I was caught up in the research, forgetting the living era, and finding the blood of my heart beated together with the pulse of the Red Army.

In June, I read the history of the Red Army in Jiajin mountain, where they arrived 70 years ago, to a snowy environment.

At the foot of the mountain are flowers, beautiful azaleas and violets, and birds. Female Red Army members quickly climbed the mountain, and in front of their eyes there was a white world, with snow that was becoming more and more thick, and the air was getting thinner. And because of the light reflected by snow, people cannot open their eyes. The wind caused snow to hit their faces like a knife. Female Red Army soldiers were shaking with the cold, teeth chattered. Hailstones the size of eggs hit their heads. If they released their grip on a holding to cover their heads with their hands, they would be blown down from the cliff…Many comrades slept forever.

 When they went down from the snowy mountain, more serious difficulties were waiting for female Red Army soldiers. Food was scarce. Chiang Kai-shek took that policy that people who sold grain to the Red Army would be sentenced to death. Their hunger was fierce, and they would turn over a village without finding a grain of wheat, just barley exposed in dung. Zhongyue Lin, Qian Xi Jun, Xie Fei crushed dried manure to find grain, for seven days they collected food from cow dung.

In this way, the female Red Army soldiers crossed the grassland. There was everglade that they can not see the edge of. Many horses sank in the black bog, and even Deng Yingchao almost sank to hell with her horse on the grass. The hungry soldiers ate cattle leather and drank horse’s urine. They were surprised to find horse’s urine could treat diarrhea, and as a result the female Red Army soldiers were rushing to drink the precious liquid. In the darkness, beautiful voices came into people’s ears, as they sung revolutionary songs together to stem the fear of to turning back into the bog. The grass swallowed one after another of the female Red Army soldiers, but it could not swallow their songs and their confidence to overcome the grass.

Female Red Army soldiers’ sweat, blood and tears blended into a living miracle. There are so many touching female Red Army soldiers’ stories, and my words can’t tell them all stories, can’t mention every heroine’s name, but I must portray their vivid images and pass on their spirit by my pen, light the new Long March torch by my poetry.

Edited and translated by Han Xiaopeng