The Town of Stone
The changeless hills round ancient capital still stand;
Waves heating on ruined walls, unheeded, roll away.
The moon which shone by riverside on flourished land
Still shines at dead of night over ruined town today.
The town of stone refers to Jinling capital of six dynasties(220—604).
The poem “The Town of Stone” is the first poem in Liu Yuxi’s group of five poems entitled “Five Questions of Jinling”. The poem focuses on the geographical environment around the Stone City, highlighting the desolation and loneliness of the ancient city in the mountains, the tide of the river, the water of Huai and the moonlight.
When Liu Yuxi wrote this poem, the Tang Empire was already declining. Ministers in the court were crowding each other out, and the local clans and towns were rising again. Therefore, this poem is not just a poem about thinking of the past, but also a poet’s deep and profound emotion, with the intention of citing the past and cherishing the rise and fall of the empire, hoping that the ruler would learn from the mistakes of the past.
The poem is unique in that it avoids all the historical facts related to Jinling and the Six Dynasties, and weaves the lines of emotion into the seemingly unrelated surrounding scenery, implying the past prosperity and present desolation of the ancient capital of the Six Dynasties in a structure of inner contrast.