The Lament

BY QU YUAN

The way was long, precipitous in view;

I bade my train a different path pursue.

There where the heaven fell we turned a space, 

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And marked the western sea as meeting-place.

A thousand chariots gathred in my train,

With axles full abreast we drove amain;

Eight horses drew the carriages behind;

The pennons shook like serpents in the wind.

I lowered flags, and from my whip refrained;

My train of towering chariots I restrained.

I sang the odes. I trod a sacred dance,

In revels wild my last hour to enhance.

Ascending where celestial heaven blazed,

On native earth for the last time we gazed;

My slaves were sad, my steeds all neighed in grief,

And gazing back, the earth they would not leave.



Since in that kingdom all my virtue spurn,

Why should I for the royal city yearn?

Wide though the world, no wisdom can be found.

I'll seek the stream where once the sage was drowned.

 
 
 
From The Lament or Li Sao by Qu Yuan, China (340 - 278 B.C.) 
Translation Yang Hsien-yi and Gladys Yang.