We all have our weaknesses. While we may have the courage to stand up to bullies, we may do the most humiliating things for the people we love. This is when a line from a poem by Lu Xun 鲁迅, the father of modern Chinese literature, is often quoted. 横眉冷对千夫指，俯首甘为孺子牛。This line comes from a not so famous poem. I’ve reproduced it in full and provided my English interpretation below. Sarcasm, paradox and irony are all hallmarks of Lu Xun’s work. You may notice that Lu Xun’s very famous Ah Q mentality is quite evident even in an unrelated poem.
Where is the aura of good fortune I seek? I bump my head even when simply turning over.
A torn hat, like a leaking wine-laden boat stuck in a river, is my only mask on a busy street.
Bravely I face the condemnation of a thousand men, but meekly I play the child’s human ox.
So I reign supreme, shut in my private chamber, leaving the seasons to change outside.