Li He

General Lü - Poem by Li He

The valiant-hearted,
Riding alone on Scarlet Hare,
Out of the gates of Ch'in,
To weep at Gold Grain Mound
By funereal trees.

Rebellion in the north
Stains in the blue sky.
His dragon-sword cries out at night
But the general's left idle,

To shake his sleeves,
And stroke his cross-guard.
'Round the jade towers of Vermilion City,
A maze of gates and pavilions.'

Slowly, the silver tortoise swings
To the gait of the white horse.
A powdered lady-general rides
Under a fiery banner.

The iron horsemen of Mount Heng
Call for their metal lances.
They can smell from afar the ornate arrows
In her perfumed quiver.

Cold weeds grow in the western suburbs,
With leaves like thorns,
High heaven has just now planted them,
To feed our thoroughbreds.
In tall-beamed stables, row on row
Of useless nags.
Stuffing themselves on green grass,
Drinking white water.

Inscrutable that vaulted azure,
Arching over earth,
This is the way the world wags
In our Nine Provinces.
Gleaming ore from Scarlet Hill!
Hero of our time!
Green-eyed general, you well know
The will of Heaven!

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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, August 14, 2012

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