You lived here during your three year exile.
History records only your lament while you were here.
After you left, the autumn grass has sought only you.
The cold woods have been unable to see you at sunset 2.
Although Emperor Wen was wise, he could not use your talent 3.
How could the relentless Xiang River understand your grief for Yuan Qu
At this mountain and river where the leaves shiver and fall,
I am filled with pity as I wonder why you were exiled here 5.
1 Yi Jia was a famous politician in the Western-Han dynasty. He had a
successful political career in his early youth., but he failed to win the trust
of powerful generals. Consequently, he was demoted to be the tutor of the King
of Chang-Sha. When Jia passed by the Xiang River on the way to assume his new
office, he wrote a poem to mourn Yuan Qu. "The History of Yuan-he County" in the
book Chang-sha City (vol. 29) (in the subset Tan County of the
series Jiang-nan Road) says, "Yi Jia's home was located forty feet south
of Chang-Sha City."
2 The Poem "Owls", written by Yi Jia, says, "Owls gather in my house at
sunset./¼ ¼ /When I was
about to leave, wild birds entered my room." Liu borrows Jia’s words "sunset"
and "leave" and blends them into his own poem with great subtlety.
3 Emperor Wen of the Han dynasty was wise, but Yi Jia was still sent into
exile. Liu's emperor was not as wise as Emperor Wen, so Liu should not feel sad
about his own exile.
4 Yuan Qu committed suicide by weighing himself
down with stones and jumping into the Mi-lo River,
which joined the Xiang River. Yi Jia wrote a poem to mourn him when he visited
the Xiang River.
5 Yi Jia was sent into exile for no good reason, as was Liu.