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Lament at the River Bank 1

Tu, Fu (712 A.D.-770 A.D.)

On a spring day,
I secretly visit the bend of the Winding River,
And weep there, swallowing my voice.
All the doors of the Amusement Park Palace are locked.
For whom is the verdant splendor of the thin willow trees and the new shoots of poplar trees?
In the past, while the emperor visited the Lotus Palace,
The flowers bloomed and the animals were in high spirits, bringing the palace to life.
Tai-Chen rode in a carriage with the emperor, and waited on him.
One female archer in front of the carriage led the hunt.
She rode a white horse biting a gold bridle;
Her bow and quiver hung at her waist.
Suddenly, she turned around on the horse,
Faced the sky, and shot toward the clouds.
A pair of birds, pierced by one arrow,
Fell to the ground, winning T'ai-Chen's smile.
Where are her bright eyes and white teeth now?
Her wandering soul, contaminated by blood, cannot return to heaven.
The clear Wei River still flows eastward
And the Sword Pavilion is far away.
The emperor has left the capital, but T'ai-Chen's soul has remained.
They can no longer see each other.
When I think about this, I was overwhelmed by emotion
And tears soak my clothes.
The river continues to flow
And the flowers along its shore continue to bloom.
At the sunset the rebel cavalry patrols the streets,
Stirring up dust all over the city.
I want to go south of the town,
But end up to its north.




1 This poem is a lyric poem in which Tu describes the government's corruption and expresses his strong grief for the wounds that his country had suffered.
    In 756 A. D., the rebel troops stormed and captured the capital. Emperor Ming fled to Shu. Ten miles into their flight, the escort troops demanded that the emperor's lover, T'ai-Chen, be sentenced to death. Prince Heng declared himself emperor at City L. Tu left his family at the capital and went to City L to serve the new emperor. On his way there, he was captured by the rebel troops and sent back to the capital. Because of his low-ranking position, he did not completely lose his freedom. In the spring of 757 A. D., Tu secretly went to the bank of the Winding River and quietly wept to express his sorrow for his country.