Battle of South City

Tang Dynasty poet Li Bai, translated by Gary Geddes with the assistance of George Liang.


Battle of South City


Last year’s battle at the source of Sang Gang,

this year’s at Tsing Leung basin.

Teoshi rains slice through the ranks,

horses graze on the snows of T’ien Shan.


Long marches, years of toil, for what:

three armies brought to their knees.

Huns sowed slaughter in their midst

and left a crop of bones upon the land.


Chin raised up its wall to stop invaders,

Han then kept alive the beacon fires.

Flames of warning aren’t extinguished

and no end to fighting yet in sight.


Casualties strewn on every hand,

cries of dying horses pierce the sky.

Vultures rip and disembowel the dead,

they leave intestines hanging from the trees.


When soldiers’ bodies fertilize the weeds,

what value have a general’s strategies?

The war machine’s so violent and cruel,

let saints employ it as a last resort.

One Response

  1. For I quake…with indignation and gratefulness

    The world is my country
    Humanity is my immediate family
    All life is my kin
    Ahimsa is my spirituality
    Altruism is my career

    I recognize nor honor nor respect any illusory borders or boundaries
    I can perceive of neither any ethicality nor more than one race
    This world is not mine to own
    This place I borrow from our children
    As a temporary guest to tend with gratitude and reverence for them

    To raise my fist in anger and retribution
    Is neither my right nor argument to induce
    My wit is a tool to teach
    Peace is…inevitable

    I am better than no one
    Yet less than none
    I am just a humble seed
    I serve pantheism

    The path is struggling Faith
    The endeavor is fortitude of conscience
    The aspiration is justice forgiveness and mercy
    Love is the lesson message and deed
    To share with everyone as a turn around

    I listen with the deaf
    I see along with blind
    I speak via the mute
    I walk alongside the lame

    I rise against injustice and violence
    I vie against exploitation and cruelty
    I shun mammonism and hedonism
    I eschew militarism and patriotism with every fiber of being

    I serve the highest
    I serve the lowest
    Integrity is an aspiration of self-sacrifice
    I quake in utter gratefulness

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