Li He

Do Not Dance, Sir! - Poem by Li He

Flowers on ancient plinths of stone,
Nine pillars in a row,
Blood of slaughtered leopards dripping
Into silver pots.
Drummers and pipers at the feast,
No zithers or flutes,
Long knives planted in the ground
Split the singing lute.

Lintels hung with coarse brocade
Of scarlet woof,
Sunlight fades the rich brocade,
The king still sober.
Three times Yu saw the precious ring
Flash at Fan's belt,
Xiang Zhuang drew sword from scabbard,
And stood before Liu Pei.

'Ensign! Your rank is far too low.
You may not dance.
Our guest is kin to the gods themselves,
A red dragon's seed.'
On Mang and Tang auspicious clouds
Coiled in the heavens,
In Xian-yang city, the royal aura
Shone clear as water.

Iron hinges, iron barriers
Fettered the passes,
Mighty banners, five fathoms long,
Battered the double gates,
'Today the King of Han possesses
The Seal of Ch'in.
Smash my knee-caps, disembowel me,
I shall say no more.

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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, August 14, 2012

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