A Song of the Marches

BY LI TAI-PEH

T'ang Dynasty

The Tien-shan peaks still glisten
In robes of spotless white;
To songs of Spring I listen,
But see no flowers around.
The ground is bare and dreary,
No voice of Spring I hear,
Save the 'Willow Song', so eerie,
I play upon my flute.
At morn the fight will follow
The sound of bugle call;
Each man, in sleep, the hollow
Across his saddle clasps.
And by his side unrusted,
His sword is closely laid,
With which he long has trusted
The tyrant foe to slay.
On noble chargers riding,
And fleeter than the wind,
All fears and risks deriding,
They cross the river Wei.
Their bows are tautened tightly,
Their quivers full of shafts,
They face the danger lightly,
And charge the haughty foe.
As rocks by lightning riven
Their ranks are rent apart;
As clouds by tempest driven
They break and flee away.
Then on the sand, blood-streaming,
The weary victors sleep,
Their swords with hoar-frost gleaming,
Their bows dark shadows cast.
The Pass has been defended,
The foes are scattered far,
The soldiers' wives untended
May seek their homes again.