Cao Cao Poems with English Translations: Graveyard Song – 曹操《蒿里行》

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蒿里行[1]

曹操

关东有义士[2],兴兵讨群凶。

初期会盟津[3],乃心在咸阳[4]。

军合力不齐,踌躇[5]而雁行[6]。

势利使人争,嗣还自相戕[7]。

淮南[8]弟称号,刻玺[9]于北方。

铠甲[10]生虮虱[11],万姓以死亡。

白骨露于野,千里无鸡鸣。

生民百遗一,念之断人肠。

注释:

[1] 蒿里行:属汉乐府《相和歌·相和曲》,本为送葬唱的挽歌,曹操借旧题写时事。此诗写汉末群雄争战,民遭涂炭,被赞为汉末实录。蒿里,传说人死后魂魄聚居的地方。

[2] 关东:函谷关以东。义士,指起兵讨伐董卓的诸州郡首领。

[3] 盟津:“孟津”,今属河南洛阳。

[4] 咸阳:秦代的京都,此借指汉长安皇室,当时献帝被挟持到长安。长安与咸阳都在关中,今属陕西。

[5] 踌躇:犹豫不前。

[6] 雁行:阵名,横列队伍,如飞雁的行列。

[7] 嗣还:其后不久。戕,杀害。

[8] “淮南”一句:说袁绍的异母弟袁术于建安二年在淮南寿春自称帝号。

[9] 刻玺:刻制印玺。玺,印,秦以后专指皇帝用的印章。

[10] 铠甲:古代的护身战服,金属制成的叫铠,皮革制成的叫甲。

[11] 虮虱:虱子的卵。

Graveyard Song

Cao Cao

East of the Pass there’re heroes brave and bright;

They rose in arms against the worst man of all.

They formed alliance first on River’s right

And joined their force to take the capital.

But they were not united with might and main,

So like wild geese they straggled all about.

They fought each other for power or gain,

And tried to kill each other and fell out.

The self-styled monarch rules the southern shore;

The royal seal is carved on northern land.

Men long in arms grow lousy more and more;

Countless people die when they cannot stand.

Afield lie bones of those who lost their lives;

For miles and miles no cock is heard to crow.

Among a hundred people one survives;

My heart would break on thinking of the woe.

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