Lament of the Newly Wed
The creeper clinging to the flax is wrong,
For it can’t be expected to grow long.
If a maiden to a soldier is tied
In wedlock, better forsake her by roadside.
My hair dressed up, to you I’m newly wed,
But we have not yet warmed our nuptial bed.
Married last night, at dawn we bid adieu.
Why should I part in such hurry with you?
Though you may not be very far away,
Only in Heyang garrison you’ll stay.
I have not performed the rites of a wife.
How can I serve your parents all my life?
Bred by my parents, I was told it’s right
To hide indoors every day and night.
Oh, I am destined to go to your house
Like a hen or a dog to be your spouse.
Now you go to a place in face of death,
How can I not utter my painful breath?
I would follow you wherever you go,
But I fear it would bring less weal than woe.
So forget the bride in your family then,
But do your duty as all army men.
If there were women in the camp, I fear,
It’s no good for morale on the frontier.
As a daughter of a poor family,
It’s difficult to get silk robe for me.
But I fear I could not wear it again,
Rougeless and powderless I would remain.
Looking up, I see hundreds of birds fly,
Big or small, all of them in pairs on high.
Why different should be our human fate?
O how long, how long should I for you wait!
“Lament of the Newly Wed” is one of the poems in “Three Officials and Three Farewells”, a group of newly-titled musical poems composed by Du Fu in the Tang Dynasty. The poem depicts the parting of a newlywed couple and portrays a young woman who understands the importance of righteousness. Although the bride’s heart is cut to pieces by her grief, she realizes that her husband’s life and death, the survival of love, and the fate of the nation are inseparably linked. Thus, she endures her grief and encourages her husband to join the army, while firmly expressing her vow of undying love. This is a work of high ideology and perfect artistry, characterized by both bold romantic artistic fiction and realistic refinement. The whole poem simulates a bride’s tone of self-reporting her grievances, and it illustrates the attitude and complex psychology of the people facing the war at that time, profoundly revealing the great misfortunes brought to the people by the war.