Lucas Klein & Leon Trotsky

The Internationale Objective

For George Oppen or César Vallejo


I do not have Russian,

Человеческое слово—самый портативный из всех материалов
                                —Троцкий : Литература
и революция


human / word / — / most / portable / of / all / materials
                                —Trotsky: Literature & Revolution


and I do not have Spanish, but
                                El verbo es el más portátil de todos los materiales,


which in French (which I have) would be
                                Le verbe est le plus portatif de tous les matériaux.

But when I went to find the line in Chinese, I got:

“Humankind’s language and writing is of all objects the one
                                most able to make people carry along”


where duìxiàng 对象 “object” is grammatical, not tangible,
                                as opposed to wùzhì 物質, “material,”

a particularly non-materialist (唯物主義, not 物質主義2) translation, so I made:


“Human writing is the most portable of all materials”
                                Until I found


Whither boats and carts can penetrate, thusly words and meaning can arrive
                                —Zhèng Qiáo (1104 – 1162, CE)

1 Spanish, French, and first Chinese translations from

2 Chinese distinguishes between wéiwù zhǔyì 唯物主義, the materialism of “dialectical materialism,” and wùzhì zhǔyì 物質主義, the materialism of Madonna’s “Material Girl.”