Fighting in the South of the Town
- Poetry of Li Bai (Li Po)


- Last updated: 2024-03-24 16:45:35

Fighting in the South of the Town by Li Bai (Li Po)











English Translation

Last year we fought 

At River's source;

This year.

we fight Along its course.

We've washed our swords in Parthian seas off bloody stains

And grazed our horses on the grass in mountain's snow.

For miles and miles we made campaigns 

Till weak and old our warriors grow.

The Tartars live on killing as on ploughing land,

Bleach'd bones of olden times are buried in the sand 

Under the Qin against the foe Great Wall was raised;

Under the Han the beacon fires still blazed.

See beacon fires on the frontier!

Still warriors fight from year to year.

In wilderness the fighters die 

Rider less horses neigh toward the sky;

Crows pecking human entrails flee 

And hang the mona withered tree.

The blood of soldiers smears the grass.

Without them what could generals do?

War is a fearful thing, alas!

For rulers wise.'t would be the last means resorted to.

The Qin Dynasty (221-207 B.C.).  /  The Han Dynasty(206 B.C.-220 A.D.).

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.

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