At Yi River, Seeing Off a Friend

In ancient times a troubled king did send,
Along this very spot, a hero bold—
And though those men have drowned in time’s lost flood,
These waters now are just as dark and cold.

Yú Yì Shuǐ Sòng Rén
Luò Bīn wáng
Cǐ dì bié yān dān
Zhuàng shì fà chōng guān
Xī shí rén yǐ mò
Jīn rì shuǐ yóu hán

Literal Character Transliteration
At Yi River Seeing-Off Person
This earth parted Yan-State Dan
Great warrior sent-out straight-ahead crown
Ancient times men already drowned/gone
Now days water just-as cold
“Yan-State Dan” refers to Prince Ji Dan of the ancient Yan State (11th century BC to 222 BC). During the Warring States era (~475 BC to 221 BC), Prince Dan lived as a hostage in the enemy Qin State. He returned home to the Yan State in 232 BC and sent his warrior Jing Ke (alluded here as the “great warrior”) to assassinate the King Zheng of Qin. Jing Ke failed and the King of Qin eventually conquered Yan and the other states, becoming the first emperor of China, taking the new title, Qin Shi Huang.

Luo Binwang (619-684?), translated by Frank Watson


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