[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com
A Song of War-Chariots

The war-chariots rattle,
The war-horses whinny.
Each man of you has a bow and a quiver at his belt.
Father, mother, son, wife, stare at you going,
Till dust shall have buried the bridge beyond Changan.
They run with you, crying, they tug at your sleeves,
And the sound of their sorrow goes up to the clouds;
And every time a bystander asks you a question,
You can only say to him that you have to go.
...We remember others at fifteen sent north to guard the river
And at forty sent west to cultivate the campfarms.
The mayor wound their turbans for them when they started out.
With their turbaned hair white now, they are still at the border,
At the border where the blood of men spills like the sea –
And still the heart of Emperor Wu is beating for war.
...Do you know that, east of China's mountains, in two hundred districts
And in thousands of villages, nothing grows but weeds,
And though strong women have bent to the ploughing,
East and west the furrows all are broken down?
...Men of China are able to face the stiffest battle,
But their officers drive them like chickens and dogs.
Whatever is asked of them,
Dare they complain?
For example, this winter
Held west of the gate,
Challenged for taxes,
How could they pay?
...We have learned that to have a son is bad luck-
It is very much better to have a daughter
Who can marry and live in the house of a neighbour,
While under the sod we bury our boys.
...Go to the Blue Sea, look along the shore
At all the old white bones forsaken –
New ghosts are wailing there now with the old,
Loudest in the dark sky of a stormy day.

by Tu Fu
[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com
Facing Snow

After the battle, many new ghosts cry,
The solitary old man murmurs in his grief.
Ragged low cloud thins the light of dusk,
Thick snow dances back and forth in the wind.
The wine ladle's cast aside, the cup not green,
The stove still looks as if a fiery red.
To many places, communications are broken,
I sit, but cannot read my books for sorrow.

by Tu Fu
[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com
Thinking Of My Brothers On A Moonlit Night

The army drum cuts off people's actions,
A lone goose sounds on the borderland in autumn.
Tonight we start the season of white dew,
The moon is just as bright as in my homeland.
My brothers are spread all throughout the land,
No home to ask if they are living or dead.
The letters we send always go astray,
Still the fighting does not cease.

by Tu Fu

[An alternate translation]

Remembering My Brothers On A Moonlit Night

A wanderer hears drums portending battle.
By the first call of autumn from a wildgoose at the border,
He knows that the dews tonight will be frost.
...How much brighter the moonlight is at home!
O my brothers, lost and scattered,
What is life to me without you?
Yet if missives in time of peace go wrong --
What can I hope for during war?

by Tu Fu
[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com

Two Verses on the Yellow River

On the north bank of the Yellow River, west of the sea, is an army,
Hammered drums and sounded bells are heard beneath the sky.
The armoured horses cry out loud, I cannot tell their number,
The high-nosed tribe of Hu are moving in great numbers.

On the western bank of the Yellow River lies my own Sichuan,
I yearn to do my duty and provide for my home, without millet.
I wish I could expel the horde in honour of my king,
And for one book or chariot I'd abandon gold and jade.

by Tu Fu

[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com

Official at Stone Moat Village

At dusk, I stopped to rest at Stone Moat village,
An officer came that night to capture men.
The old man escaped by climbing over the wall,
The old wife went to look outside the door.
How angrily the officer now shouted,
How bitterly the wife did weep out loud!
I heard the words the wife was sending forth:
"Three sons of mine were sent to defend Yecheng.
From one of my sons, a letter has arrived,
The other two have recently died in battle.
The one who survived has kept alive for now,
The dead ones though have met their final end.
Inside this house, there are no people left,
There's just a grandson suckling on the breast.
The grandson's mother also cannot go,
She goes about without a skirt intact.
Although I'm an old woman with failing strength,
I ask you to take me with you tonight.
If you should need workers at Heyang,
I can prepare the morning meal for you."
Her voice then died away into the night,
I seemed to hear her sob and whimper still.
At dawn, before I set upon the road,
It's only from the old man that I part.

by Tu Fu

[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com

The Chariots Go Forth To War

Chariots rumble and roll: horses whinny and neigh.
Footmen at their girdle bows and arrows display.
Fathers, mothers, wives, and children by them go--
'Tis not the choking dust alone that strangles what they say!
Their clothes they clutch; their feet they stamp; their crush blocks up the way.
The sounds of weeping mount above the clouds that gloom the day.

The passers-by inquire of them, "But whither do you go?"
They only say: "We're mustering--do not disturb us so."
These fifteen years and upwards, the Northern Pass defend;
And still at forty years of age their service does not end.
All young they left their villages--just registered were they--
The war they quitted sees again the same men worn and gray.
And all along the boundary their blood has made a sea.
But never till the World is his, will Wu Huang happy be!

Have you not heard--in Shantung there two hundred districts lie.
All overgrown with briar and weed and wasted utterly?
The stouter women swing and hoe and guide the stubborn plough,
The fields have lost their boundaries--the corn grows wildly now.
And routed bands with hunger grim come down in disarray
To rob and rend and outrage them, and treat them as a prey.

Although the leaders question them, the soldiers' plaints resound.
And winter has not stopped the war upon the western bound.
And war needs funds; the Magistrates for taxes press each day.
The land tax and the duties--Ah! how shall these be found?

In times like this stout sons to bear is sorrow and dismay.
Far better girls--to marry, to a home not far away.
But sons!--are buried in the grass!--yon Tsaidam's waste survey!
The bones of those who fell before are bleaching on the plain.
Their spirits weep our ghosts to hear lamenting all their pain.
Beneath the gloomy sky there runs a wailing in the rain.

by Tu Fu
translated by W. J. B. Fletcher

[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com

A Spring View

Though a country be sundered, hills and rivers endure;
And spring comes green again to trees and grasses
Where petals have been shed like tears
And lonely birds have sung their grief.
... After the war-fires of three months,
One message from home is worth a ton of gold.
... I stroke my white hair. It has grown too thin
To hold the hairpins any more

by Tu Fu

[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com
Facing Snow

After the battle, many new ghosts cry,
The solitary old man murmurs in his grief.
Ragged low cloud thins the light of dusk,
Thick snow dances back and forth in the wind.
The wine ladle's cast aside, the cup not green,
The stove still looks as if a fiery red.
To many places, communications are broken,
I sit, but cannot read my books for sorrow.


Thinking Of My Brothers On A Moonlit Night

The army drum cuts off people's actions,
A lone goose sounds on the borderland in autumn.
Tonight we start the season of white dew,
The moon is just as bright as in my homeland.
My brothers are spread all throughout the land,
No home to ask if they are living or dead.
The letters we send always go astray,
Still the fighting does not cease.

~by Tu Fu

Profile

War Poetry

January 2017

S M T W T F S
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 91011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031    

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Sep. 22nd, 2017 05:12 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios