The West River
How could Heaven tolerate
The affairs of the state?
Who would offer a plan of campaign to the Crown?
My grief has weighed me down.
My spirit of youth has turned to dust, alas!
In vain are white bones buried under withered grass.
Could I be bold
To revenge for the shame, now I am old?
I’ve visited in the east the River Huai
And mounted the vernal Terrace high,
But I could not refrain from shedding tears.
Come back when drank, I stroke my sword in western breeze.
The surging waves still stimulate my mind ill at ease.
But I can only fold my arms in the twilight,
Watching the long River Huai still extend
For miles and miles without an end.
But who would bring heroism to its height?
Of late, the Tartar dust is raised on the border.
When would our hero come back to restore order?
The poet wishes in vain that the emperor would start a campaign to revenge on the foe for the shame of the lost land. The hero in the last line refers to Zhang Qian (?—114 BC) who restored order on the northwest border in the Han Dynasty.
“The West River” is a lyric written by the Southern Song Dynasty lyricist Wang Fao. The lyrics are divided into three stanzas. The first stanza is about the unmanageable events in the world, the heroes and heroines who have died with great ambition and are hated in nine springs, making people feel full of sorrow; the second stanza recalls the past events when he was on the Huai River, inspecting the river defense and looking up to the Central Plains; the third stanza is about the lyricist who is now idle and far from the front line, but is still always concerned about the safety and security of the country. The lyrics show the incomparable deep concern of the lyricist for his country in his later years, which is heartbreaking and moving. The lyrics are cool and strong, with a lot of sorrow and emotion.