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The 1950s and 1960s were a brutal, oppressive period in Chinese history. Mao Zedong's "Great Leap Forward"—a plan to rapidly transform China from an agricultural economy to one focused on heavy industry—led to widespread death and starvation. Mao then launched the "Cultural Revolution," in which traditional, cultural, and bourgeoisie elements of society were violently suppressed to strengthen socialist values. Intellectuals were taken from their homes and sent to labor camps to be "re-educated." Groups of youths took to the streets, attacking, imprisoning, or publicly humiliating their teachers and elders.
Poet Kuangchi Chang did not remain in China long enough to be "re-educated." Following the Communist takeover he fled to the United States. His poem "Garden of My Childhood" describes China before the revolution as a peaceful, idyllic garden with a violent horde rapidly approaching. A vine, the wind, and the sea are each personified, and each beckons for him to run. It is not until "eons later," when he is "worlds away," that his "running is all done," and he finds himself at his destination: another garden, just like the one he had left behind.