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Li Bai: The Martial Music of Chengnan

The Martial Music of Chengnan

战 城 南
去 年 战,桑 干 源;
今 年 战,葱 河 道。
洗 兵 条 支 海 上 波
放 马 天 山 雪 中 草。
万 里 长 征 战
三 军 尽 衰 老。
匈 奴 以 杀 戮 为 耕 作
古 来 唯 见 白 骨 黄 沙 田。
秦 家 筑 城 备 胡 处
汉 家 还 有 烽 火 燃。
烽 火 燃 不 息
征 战 无 已 时。
野 战 格 斗 死
败 马 号 鸣 向 天 悲。
鸟 鸢 啄 人 肠
衔 飞 上 挂 枯 树 枝 。
士 卒 涂 草 莽
将 军 空 尔 为。
乃 知 兵 者 是 凶 器
圣 人 不 得 已 面 用 之。
Zhan Cheng Nan

Qu nian zhan, sang gan yuan
Jin nian zhan, cong he dao.
Xi bing tiao zhi hai shang bo
Fang ma tian shan xue zhong cao.

Wan li chang zheng zhan
San jun jin shuai lao.
Xiong nu yi sha lu wei geng zuo
Gu lai wei jian bai gu huang sha tian.

Qin jia zhu cheng bei hu chu
Han jia hai you feng huo ran.
Feng huo ran bu xi
Zheng zhan wu yi shi.

Ye zhan ge dou si
Bai ma hao ming xiang tian bei.
Niao yuan zhuo ren chang
Xian fei shang gua ku shu zhi.

Shi zu tu cao mang
Jiang jun kong er wei.
Nai zhi bing zhe shi xiong qi
Sheng ren bu die yi er yong zhi.

The Martial Music of Chengnan

Departed last year for war in the northwest to Sang Ganyuan
This year we fight along the Cong River.
Wash our weapons and armor in the Tiaozi River’s salty waves
Release our horses into the Tian mountains, snow still remains among the grasses.

Long journey of thousands of miles to the battle sites
Many of the soldiers old and tired.
The Xiongnu kill people like we cultivate our fields
From ancient times we see white bones in the desert sands.

The Qin house built the Great Wall for protection from the northern hordes
The Han rulers had many beacon fires burning.
Beacon fires never were extinguished
Long journeys into battle without end.

Open country battles often fought man-to-man to the death
Riderless horses wail their sorrows to the sky.
Hawks and vultures peck at our innards
Hold in their beaks, fly up into withered tree branches.

Amateur soldiers spread across the grasses
General also lost, made do with this emptiness.
Therefore, know that soldiers are lethal weapons
Wise men try to end the need for all of this.



Cong River: Located in the Xinjiang Province, an area in the far northwest region of present day China.

Tiaozi River: Located in central Asia in this same area.

Tian mountains: A mountain range in central Asia.

Xiongnu: A federation of mostly Mongolian peoples living to  the north.  Like the Commanche nation in the American southwest before and during the arrival of European settlers, they were marauders who stole and pillaged for profit and survival.

Qin house:  Qin Dynasty (221 BC-206 BC)

Han rulers: Han Dynasty (206 BC-25 AD)

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