Song of the Running Horse River in Farewell to General Feng on His Western Expedition
Do you not see the Running Horse River flow
Along the sea of snow
And the sand that’s yellowed sky and earth high and low?
In the ninth moon at Wheel Tower winds howl at night;
The river fills with boulders fallen from the height;
With howling winds they run riot as if in flight.
When grass turns yellow and plump Hunnish horses neigh,
West of Mount Gold dusts rise, the foe in proud array.
Our general leads his army on his westward way.
He keeps his iron armor on the whole night long,
Spears dang at midnight when his army march along,
Their faces cut by winds that blow so sharp and strong.
Their sweat and snow turn into steam on horse’s mane,
Which soon on horse’s back turns into ice again;
Ink freezes when challenge’s written before campaign.
On hearing this, the foe with fear should palpitate.
Dare they cross swords with our brave men in iron plate?
We’ll wait for news of victory at the western gate.
This song glorifies General Feng in praise of his heroism against wind and snow.
The poem “Song of the Running Horse River in Farewell to General Feng on His Western Expedition” is a poem written by the poet Cen Shen in the Tang Dynasty. The poem captures the hardships of the environment with the scenery of the borderlands, thus setting off the heroic and fearless spirit of the soldiers. The poem begins with a description of the harsh environment and the wind and sand that cover the sky; it continues with a description of the invasion of Xiongnu on the occasion of the strong grass and horses, and General Feng’s defiance of the cold weather and the freezing ground; it ends with a description of the enemy’s fear and wishes for the triumph of the Tang army. Although the poem is about the battle, it is mainly about the cold, implying the greatness of the battle in the snow. The poem is as bold as the wind and the fountain of water, and is truly moving. The poem is unique in that it uses rhyme in every verse, and the rhythm is urgent and powerful with three turns of phrase.