Dance of the Cavalry
Though drunk, we lit the lamp to see the glaive;
Sober, we heard the horns from tent to tent.
Under the flags, beef grilled
Was eaten by our warriors brave
And martial airs were played by fifty instruments:
‘T was an autumn manoeuvre in the field.
On gallant steed,
Running full speed,
We’d shoot with twanging bows
Recovering the lost land for the sovereign,
‘T is everlasting fame that we would win.
But alas! White hair grows!
The poet writes this lyric for his friend Chen Liang to show his regret that they could not recover the lost land occupied by Jurchen invaders.
The poem “Dance of the Cavalry ” is a lyric by Xin Qiji of the Song Dynasty. This lyric expresses the ideal of killing the enemy to serve the country and recovering the lost land, and expresses the sadness and anger of a hero whose ambition is hard to be rewarded and who is late in life. The first nine lines are one meaning, and the last line is another meaning, using the last line to negate the first nine lines, and the first nine lines are written with great abandon, just to aggravate the disappointment of the last line.