Li Bai: Airs of Ancientry No.14 "Lament of the Empire's Conscript" (From Chinese)

Airs of Ancientry No.14 – Lament of the Empire's Conscript   
By Lǐ Bái
Translated by A.Z. Foreman
Click to hear me recite the original in reconstructed 8th century Chang'anese pronunciation

The border post ablast with sand and wind
 Drear and wailing now from elder days
Leaves felled from trees, grasses yellowed with fall
 I scale the tower surveil the foe's terrain —  
Weed-choked ramparts derelict in the desert 
 Border town where not a wall remains  
Bleachwhite bones  a thousand frosts have weathered
 Jumbled barrows  brushwood overtakes 
Let me ask who was the great aggressor?  
 Nature's pet tribesmen moved with violent bane
So flamed with rage our godly Emperor
 Bade his army bang the drums of war
His sunbalmed nature steamed to murderous air   
 Sent troops to invade and turmoil through the State
Three hundred sixty thousand men deployed
 Now sorrow and sorrow — and sorrow's tears like rain 
Though it grieved us so we got no choice but go  
 How can we farm our fields in these blasted acres  
Till you've seen boys stationed at the border 
 Don't think you know the front line's dreary ache 
General Li Mu  is with us no more today
 We frontier men are fodder for what infests these wastes



The Original: 


古風其十四
李白

胡關饒風沙,
蕭索竟終古。
木落秋草黃,
登高望戎虜。
荒城空大漠,
邊邑無遺
白骨橫千霜,
嵯峨蔽榛莽。
借問誰凌虐,
天驕毒威武。
赫怒我聖皇,
勞師事鼙鼓。
陽和變殺氣,
發卒騷中土。
三十六萬人,
哀哀淚如雨。
且悲就行役,
安得營農圃。
不見征戍兒,
豈知關山苦。
李牧今不在,
邊人飼豺虎。

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