A Soldier's Farewell to his Wife

BY SU-WU

Han Dynasty, or earlier

My dear wife, you and I have been as one,
No doubt has marred the faith, which love has won,
Our chief desire throughout the married state
Has been of love and joy to give and take.
But now, alas! the joy of Spring departs,
And sorrow's shafts must enter both our hearts;
I cannot sleep; I must arise and see
The time; ah me, how quick the hours do flee!
Awake, my dearest, for the stars have set,
The grief of parting must be bravely met;
And yet the dreary marches weight my mind,—
As through defiles and desert plains they wind.
And then, at last, the awful battle-field,
Where I must fight and naught to foemen yield;
But, oh! the bitter, paralysing pain—
To think that we may never meet again!
I must let fall the long restrainèd tears
As, clasping hands, you calm my anxious fears;
If not, my heart will break with sighs repressed
To hear your love so tenderly confessed.
But courage, we will think of Young Love's day,
And all the pleasures which therein did stay;
And this shall cheer me on the toilsome road,
And help you here to bear your weary load.
Then with what joy we shall renew our life,
When I return safe from the dreadful strife;
But if, alas! the Fates should death decree,
My spirit shall for ever live with thee.