Friday, September 21, 2007

The Chariots Go Forth to War



The chariots go forth to war,
Rumbling, roaring as they go;
The horses neigh and whinny loud,
Tugging at the bit.
The dust swirls up in great dense clouds,
And hides the Han Yang bridge.
In serried ranks the archers march,
A bow and quiver at each waist;
Fathers, mothers, children, wives
All crowd around to say farewell.
Pulling at clothes and stamping feet,
They force the soldiers' ranks apart,
And all the while their sobs and cries
Reach to the skies above.

"Where do you go to-day ?" a passer-by
Calls to the marching men.
A grizzled old veteran answers him,
Halting his swinging stride:
"At fifteen I was sent to the north
To guard the river against the Hun;
At forty I was sent to camp,
To farm in the west, far, far from home.
When I left, my hair was long and black;
When I came home, it was white and thin.
Today they send me again to the wars,
Back to the north frontier,
By whose gray towers our blood has flowed
In a red tide, like the sea--
And will flow again, for Wu Huang Ti
Is resolved to rule the world.

"Have you not heard how in far Shantung
Two hundred districts lie
With a thousand towns and ten thousand homes
Deserted, neglected, weed-grown?
Husbands fighting or dead, wives drag the plow,
And the grain grows wild in the fields.
The soldiers recruited in Shansi towns
Still fight; but, with spirit gone,
Like chickens and dogs they are driven about,
And have not the heart to complain."

"I am greatly honored by your speech with me.
Dare I speak of my hatreds and grief ?
All this long winter, conscription goes on
Through the whole country, from the east to the west,
And taxes grow heavy. But how can we pay,
Who have nothing to give from our land ?
A son is a curse at a time like this,
And daughters more welcome far;
For, when daughters grow up, they can marry, at least,
And go to live on a neighbor's land.
But our sons? We bury them after the fight,
And they rot where the grass grows long.

"Have you not seen at far Ching Hai,
By the waters of Kokonor,
How the heaped skulls and bones of slaughtered men
Lie bleaching in the sun?
Their ancient ghosts hear our own ghosts weep,
And cry and lament in turn;
The heavens grow dark with great storm-clouds,
And the specters wail in the rain."
Du Fu

19 comments:

Shiv said...

Nice writing!!!

Kuan Gung said...

Haunting indeed...

starry nights said...

Wow! a long poem but sure tells a story.Sad!

Kuan Gung said...

shiv...really, I just learned of this individual recently...I agree

Kuan Gung said...

Warm greetinhgs starry

Anonymous said...

Long time ..is all well with you...

Just to let you know that LIP (www.livinginpoetry.blogspot.com) is honor another poet ..her writing you will like

Nasra

krystyna said...

Wow!
Beautifully written. Very interesting.
Perfect for ballade-song.
THANKS!
Best wishes!

Scott Kohlhaas said...

Scary stuff!

Would you be willing to spread the word about www.draftresistance.org? It's a site dedicated to shattering the myths surrounding the selective slavery system and building mass civil disobedience to stop the draft before it starts!

Our banner on a website, printing and posting the anti-draft flyer or just telling friends would help.

Thanks!

Scott Kohlhaas

PS. When it comes to conscription, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

Kuan Gung said...

Thank you Nasra...

Kuan Gung said...

Hi krysyna...thank you and warm greetings

Kuan Gung said...

Thank you scott...appreciate the info...

Kuan Gung said...

Nasra...where are you?

Kalpana said...

So much meaning it carries........Well written.....

Libra Moon said...

Greetings Kuan!

Just stopping by to "brag" about how wonderfully Serene and Breathtaking it was to see Loreena McKennitt in concert recently. She has an amazing performance energy! (Shall I rant and rave more of her?... or as to how close I sat to the stage?... or of the backstage party I attended afterwards?) She is currently touring the US before returning here, to her home town, for Christmas. Maybe she is performing somewhere near you that you can catch the show?

I anticipate all is Happy and Healthy in your world...
Libra Moon

Kuan Gung said...

Thank you kalpana...warm greetings

Kuan Gung said...

Libra Moon are you kidding? Wow!
I just bought her new live double CD and DVD...what a great show it is.

I'd love to see her, what an incredible voice. I'll have to see if she's coming near here...you're so lucky...wow!

Neers said...

absolutely magical! hey Kuan, thank you!

Neers said...

and Libra Moon, Loreena McKennitt?? WHOA! i absolutely love her voice! envious!

Janice Thomson said...

Du Fu is an extremely talented poet. I love his work . Thanks for sharing this Kaun
(PS: had lost your url but found again through Mystic - you are in my reader now :) )