An Ode On The Return Of The Troops

by Confucius


Forth from the city in our cars we drove,
Until we halted at the pasture ground.
The general came, and there with ardor strove
A note of zeal throughout the host to sound.
"Direct from court I come, by orders bound
The march to hasten";--it was thus he spake.
Then with the carriage-officers around,
He strictly charged them quick despatch to make:--
"Urgent the King's affairs, forthwith the field we take."
While there we stopped, the second corps appeared,
And 'twixt Us and the city took its place.
The guiding standard was on high upreared,
Where twining snakes the tortoises embrace,
While oxtails, crest-like, did the staff's top grace.
We watched the sheet unfolding grandly wave;
Each flag around showed falcons on its face.
With anxious care looked on our leader brave;
Watchful the carriage-officers appeared and grave.
Nan Chung, our chief, had heard the royal call
To go where inroad by Heen-yuns was made,
And 'cross the frontier build a barrier wall.
Numerous his chariots, splendidly arrayed!
The standards--this where dragons were displayed,
And that where snakes round tortoises were coiled--
Terrific flew. "Northward our host," he said,
"Heaven's son sends forth to tame the Heen-yun wild."
Soon by this awful chief would all their tribes be foiled.
When first we took the field, and northward went,
The millet was in flower;--a prospect sweet.
Now when our weary steps are homeward bent,
The snow falls fast, the mire impedes our feet.
Many the hardships we were called to meet,
Ere the King's orders we had all fulfilled.
No rest we had; often our friends to greet
The longing came; but vain regrets we stilled;
By tablets stern our hearts with fresh resolve were thrilled.
"Incessant chirp the insects in the grass;
All round about the nimble hoppers spring.
From them our thoughts quick to our husbands pass?
Although those thoughts our hearts with anguish wring.
Oh! could we see them, what relief 'twould bring!
Our hearts, rejoiced, at once would feel at rest."
Thus did our wives, their case deploring, sing;
The while our leader farther on had pressed,
And smitten with his power the wild Jung of the west.
The spring days now are lengthening out their light;
The plants and trees are dressed in living green;
The orioles resting sing, or wing their flight;
Our wives amid the southern-wood are seen,
Which white they bring, to feed their silkworms keen.
Our host, returned, sweeps onwards to the hall,
Where chiefs are questioned, shown the captives mean
Nan Chung, majestic, draws the gaze of all,
Proud o'er the barbarous foe his victories to recall.

Last updated January 14, 2019