To the Early Wild Geese
The foe shoot arrows on frontier in autumn day;
The startled grieved wild geese disperse and fly away.
The statue sees their shadows pass beneath the moon bright;
The lonely palace hears their cries in candlelight.
You know the foe would run their horses therefore long.
Could you go back one and all when spring sings its song?
Don’t say few live on Southern rivers up and down!
With water plants the Southern shores are overgrown.
The poet compares the refugees to the wild geese flying from north to south, for they also fled from the northern frontier occupied the foe to the southern rivershore.
The poem “To the Early Wild Geese” is a poem by Du Mu, a writer of the Tang Dynasty. The poem uses the symbolism of simile to express his feelings through geese, using the flying geese as a metaphor for the displaced people, expressing his deep sympathy for their miserable situation of having a home but not being able to return. Throughout the poem, there is not a single word of criticism against the ruler, but in the autumn, it is envisioned that the Hu horsemen will still be there in the following spring, so it is clear that the imperial court is unable to protect the border. The poem is a unique work among Du Mu’s poems, with its delicate style and subtlety.