Gu Cheng

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Gu Cheng
Born(1956-09-24)September 24, 1956
Beijing, China
DiedOctober 8, 1993(1993-10-08) (aged 37)
Ostend, Waiheke Island, Auckland, New Zealand
OccupationPoet, essayist, novelist
Literary movementMisty Poets, modernism
Plaque in New York

Gu Cheng (simplified Chinese: 顾城; traditional Chinese: 顧城; September 24, 1956 – October 8, 1993) was a famous Chinese modern poet, essayist and novelist. He was a prominent member of the "Misty Poets", a group of Chinese modernist poets.


Gu Cheng was born in Beijing on 24 September 1956.[1] He was the son of a prominent party member and the army poet Gu Gong.[1] At the age of twelve, his family was sent to rural Shandong because of the Cultural Revolution (as means of re-education) where they bred pigs. There, he claimed to have learned poetry directly from nature.

In the late 1970s, Gu became associated with the journal Today (Jintian) which began a movement in poetry known as "menglong" meaning "hazy", "obscure". He became an international celebrity and travelled around the world accompanied by his wife, Xie Ye. The two settled in Rocky Bay, a small village on Waiheke Island, Auckland, New Zealand in 1987. Gu taught Chinese at the University of Auckland in the City of Auckland.

In October 1993, Gu Cheng attacked his wife with an axe before hanging himself. She died later on the way to a hospital. The story of his death was widely covered in the Chinese media.[2]

"A Generation"[edit]

The two-line poem titled "A Generation" ("一代人") was perhaps Gu Cheng's most famous contribution to contemporary Chinese literature. It had been considered an accurate representation of the younger generation during the Chinese Cultural Revolution seeking knowledge and future.

(translated by Juan Yuchi)
The darkest night gave me dark-colored eyes
Yet with them I'm seeking light



Gu Cheng's life was dramatised in the 1998 film The Poet (Chinese: 顧城別戀; pinyin: gùchéng bié liàn), which focussed on his recurrent depression and the murder of his wife.[3]


  1. ^ a b Anna Simona Margarito (August 2012). "Reflections of the West in Gu Cheng's Life and Poems" (PDF). Asian and African Studies. Ljubljana. XVI (2). ISSN 1408-5429. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 November 2014. Retrieved 18 November 2014. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ "A voice for China's bottom rung". 11 November 2011 – via
  3. ^ "顾城别恋 顧城別戀 (1998)" [The Poet/The Poet (1998)]. Douban (in Chinese). Retrieved 31 July 2017.

Further reading[edit]

  • Chinese Writers on Writing featuring Gu Cheng. Ed. Arthur Sze. (Trinity University Press, 2010).
  • Sea of Dreams: Selected Writings of Gu Cheng translated and edited by Joseph Allen. (New Directions: 2005)
  • Poemas oscuros: Antología de Gu Cheng, traducido del chino por Javier Martín Ríos; revisión al español de Sun Xintang. (China Intercontinental Press: 2014).

External links[edit]