Reflections on the Ancient Battlefield at Guangwu
- Poetry of Li Bai (Li Po)


- Last updated: 2024-03-20 14:55:27

Reflections on the Ancient Battlefield at Guangwu by Li Bai (Li Po)
















English Translation

The Emperor of Qin had lost his deer 

And heroes chased it as thistle-down flies.

The Prince of Chu was brave without a peer,

With purple flashes in double-pupiled eyes.

He called eight thousand Southern youths to fight,

From eastern River shore they swept the foes.

The Duke of Han had killed the Serpent white,

And breaking through the Pass,his war cries rose.

Two rival Dragons reigned not at same time,

And five propitious stars appeared on high.

Chu perished for lack of ideal sublime;

The Duke expanded his realm beneath the sky.

He cleared eight borders with the sword he did wield,

And came back drunk and sang The Great Wind Song 3.

His army once came to this battlefield,

And fought the Prince to see who was the strong.

His father,captured,would be boiled alive,

"My father's yours,”he said,“in weal and woe.”

Of ancient war few relics still survive,

The ramparts crumble to mounds high and low.

Fierce growling tigers fill the caves with dismay,

And hungry eagles cleave the autumn sky.

The morning clouds still make a battle array,

And war cries seem to pelt the rainbow on high.

To end disorder is the deed of sage.

Pedantic scholarO,how dare you declare 

Drunken,the Duke was fellow of village?

You're mad and frenzy,unjust and unfair.

I clap my hands in view of this battleground,

And laugh away your ignorance profound.

The battlefield in present-day Henan Province where Xiang Yu,Prince of Chu,fought against Liu Bang, Duke of Han, who won and became the first emperor of the Han Dynasty in 206 B.C.

Why Chinese poems is so special?
The most distinctive features of Chinese poetry are: concision- many poems are only four lines, and few are much longer than eight; ambiguity- number, tense and parts of speech are often undetermined, creating particularly rich interpretative possibilities; and structure- most poems follow quite strict formal patterns which have beauty in themselves as well as highlighting meaningful contrasts.
How to read a Chinese poem?
Like an English poem, but more so. Everything is there for a reason, so try to find that reason. Think about all the possible connotations, and be aware of the different possibilities of number and tense. Look for contrasts: within lines, between the lines of each couplet and between successive couplets. Above all, don't worry about what the poet meant- find your meaning.

© 2024 Famous Chinese Poems in English