Song of a General after the Break-Through
- Poetry of Li Bai (Li Po)

《从军行·其二》

- Last updated: 2024-03-20 14:40:16

Song of a General after the Break-Through by Li Bai (Li Po)
中文原文

百战沙场碎铁衣,城南已合数重围。

突营射杀呼延将,独领残兵千骑归。


English Translation

After a hundred battles, his armor is worn,

The southern town surrounded ring on ring in the morn.

When he breaks through and kills the chief of Tartar peers,

He comes back with a thousand beaten cavaliers.

This quatrain describes a general with his armor outworn and his cavaliers beaten after a break-through.

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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