One sentence in English he knew by heart:
‘If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?’
It sounded cheerful; it usually fitted.
He was a writer. He had translated Quo Vadis?
From the English. What else he had done
We never learnt, nor what had been done to him.
Plainly he’d had a number of hard winters
Known choicely as the Cultural Revolution,
Made to clean out latrines, at very least.
If you think that’s a doddle, just the job
For spoilt intellectuals, then go and look at one.
Winter went, spring returned. Just the two seasons.
Once I think he started to say ‘If Spring comes …’
But his English failed him. Or someone was listening.