Tea and porcelain
Were not enough.
They wanted silk and nankeen,
A canvas for pillage and plunder.
While the British loved to drink their
Imported from China and India
Eat their scones on
The Chinese had no use for heavy British wool.
Now the Brits
Bedecked in luxurious silk and
Beautifully dyed nankeen cotton
As they sipped their fine imported tea--
Too much silver drained from England.
They hungered after power.
Unfettered access to trade routes and
World-class ports most
Lucrative to England.
Grown in Bengal
On conquered land
Resold at a hefty profit.
They bribed Chinese officials
Distributed free samples
Far and wide
To unsuspecting victims.
Soon millions of Chinese
Were addicted to opium.
Her earliest memory was of playing
Next to the dead body of her mother.
Mother and daughter shared
The same bed.
Daughter was too young to know
Her mother's spirit had departed
And what was left was a corpse
As though sleeping.
At some point the adults found the child
Playing quietly next to her dead mother.
They told her to cry, cry for your mother,
For she is dead.
Not long after playing next to the body of
Her dead mother
Her father sold her to relatives
For 5 silver coins.
He was an opium addict
Seeking his next high.
She never saw her father again.
The young child was my grandmother.
To read more about the Opium Wars, check out these sources:
- The First Opium War, by Peter C. Perdue
- The Opium War and Foreign Encroachment (Asia for Educators, Columbia University)
- The Opium War's Secret History, by Karl E. Meyer