Zhang Xiaoxiang Poem: Song of the Six States – 张孝祥《六州歌头·长淮望断》

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Song of the Six States
Zhang Xiaoxiang

I strain my eye
As far as River Huai.
Wild grass grows high
On borders far and nigh.
Dust darkens the frontier,
Frosty wind strong and clear,
No sound assails the ear,
I feel so sad and drear.
I think of the mortified state.
Perhaps it was fate
Beyond our power.
By riverside
Where music was played well
There hangs the foe’s stinking smell.
Felt tents spread on the other side.
At sunset sheep and cattle lost
Between one and another enemy post.
See the foe hunt at night:
With torches e’en the stream is bright.
Hearing their drum and horn,
Can our heart not be torn?
The arrows at my waist
And my sword well encased
Are dusted over or worn out.
What have I done about?
Time will be lost amain;
My heart is strong in vain.
The year is drawing near its last day,
The capital still far away.
With flags and shields the foe’s appeased;
Beacon fire ceased.
Our army beat
A safe retreat.
Envoys are sent
By the government.
They come and go
In weal or woe?
It’s said the refugees in the lost Central Plain
Oft southward look for the northern campaign.
It they come here,
Indignant, they would shed tear on tear.

The poet writes this lyric against the capitulationists seeking peace with the Jurchen invaders.


“Song of the Six States” is a work by Zhang Xiaoxiang, a Song Dynasty lyricist. This lyric is about the view of Linhuai, condemning and criticizing the court’s policy of laxity and expressing strong feelings of loyalty and anger to serve the country through an overview of the situation of the country. The first piece depicts the desolate scenery of the fallen areas and the arrogance and rampant behavior of the enemy. Looking north at the Central Plains, the mountains and rivers have changed. The Jin invaded the south, raising fire and hunting at night, the drums and reeds were sorrowful, and the country of culture for thousands of years was reduced to a cave of dogs and sheep. The next piece writes that the Southern Song dynasty was restless, the Central Plains fathers longed for restoration, but their own will to serve the country was difficult to achieve. The author is saddened by the atmosphere of compromise and peace-seeking on the border, with the exchange of crowns and envoys. The whole lyric has a broad pattern and a strong voice, and is full of ink and brush, which makes it a famous piece of patriotic lyrics in the early Southern Song Dynasty.

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