Lament along the Winding River
Old and deprived, I swallow tears on a spring day;
Along Winding River in stealth I go my way.
All palace gates and doors are locked on river shore;
Willows and reeds are green for no one to adore.
I remember rainbow banners streamed at high tide
To Southern Park where everything was beautified.
The first lady of the Sunny Palace would ride
In the imperial chariot by the emperor’s side.
The horsewomen before her bore arrows and bow;
Their white steeds champed at golden bits on the front row.
One archer, leaning back, shot at cloud in the sky;
One arrow brought down two winged birds from on high.
Where are the first lady’s pearly teeth and eyes bright?
Her spirit, blood-stained, could not come back from the height.
Far from Sword Cliff, with River Wei her soul flew east;
The emperor got no news from her in the least.
A man who has a heart will wet his breast with tears.
Would riverside grass and flowers not weep for years?
At dusk the rebels’ horses overrun the town;
I want to go upward, but instead I go down.
The poet laments over the Winding River where the Bright Emperor made pleasure with his favorite Lady Yang who is dead, and where the rebels are running riot.
The poem “Lament along the Winding River” is a poem by Du Fu, a great poet of the Tang Dynasty. The first half of the poem recalls the great event of Emperor Xuanzong and Yang Guifei’s visit to Qujiang River, while the second half laments the death of Guifei and the flight of Emperor Xuanzong, depicting the depression and desolation of Chang’an after it was sacked by the An-shi rebels, and expressing the poet’s sincere patriotic feelings and his deep sorrow for the destruction of his country and family. The poem is clearly layered, well-structured, with the first and last lines corresponding to each other, and the artistic conception is meticulous.