Chen Fu Poem: The Hammer Blow – 陈孚《博浪沙》

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The Hammer Blow[1]

Chen Fu

How brave to strike at royal cab with hammer blow!

The empire, tottering, began to be brought low.

Though out of molten iron were made statues grand,

The hammer still was made by the rebellious hand.


[1]In 218 BC Zhang Liang tried to kill by hammer blow the first emperor of Qin, who had molten iron weapons into twelve statues for fear that they might be used by rebels.


The poem “The Hammer Blow” is a seven-line poem written by Chen Fu, a poet of the Yuan Dynasty. The first two lines of the poem praise Zhang Liang’s brave and heroic action in Bolangsha and the importance of this action as a prelude to the struggle to overthrow the tyrannical Qin; the third four lines introduce a new meaning with a question, namely, the Qin Shi Huang collected all the weapons in the world and tried to stifle the people’s resistance, which was futile and implied a warning to the Yuan rulers to follow the footsteps of the Qin Shi Huang. The poem makes use of the past as a metaphor for the present, and uses a polemical approach to ridicule the Mongolian aristocracy of the Yuan Dynasty, which brutally oppressed the Han Chinese.

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