(Tune: Po Zhen Zi )
by Li Yu
tr. E C. Chang
Forty years of family and reign.
Three thousand li *of river and mountainous scenes.
Phoenix pavilions and dragon towers rose to the sky.
Deep into the mist were beautiful trees,
flowery branches, and vines.
How little I knew about weapons and military might?
Suddenly I have become a captured prisoner.
So emaciated I now have the look of Shen’s slender waist
and Pan’s hoary hair.**
How could I forget the day I hurriedly
left my ancestral shrine?
The imperial musicians played farewell songs
as we said goodbye.
I faced my court ladies with tears in my eyes.
*li is a Chinese unit of length that is equivalent to about half kilometer.
**Shen Yue (441-513) was an official and scholar of the Liang Dynasty.
Pan Yue (247-300), known for his attractive appearance, was a scholar in the Jin Dynasty.