|The following poem was written by Li He in the ninth
of the Bronze Statue "
that emperor of Maoling,
through the autumn wind,
horse neighs at night
has passed without trace by dawn.
fragrance of autumn lingers still
those cassia trees by painted galleries,
on every palace hall the green moss grows.
Wei's envoy sets out to drive a thousand li 1
keen wind at the East Gate stings the statue's eyes. . . .
the ruined palace he brings nothing forth
the moonshaped disk of Han, 2
to his lord, he sheds leaden tears, 3
withered orchids by the Xianyang Road
the traveler on his way.
if Heaven had a feeling heart, it, too, must grow old!
bears the disk off alone
the light of the desolate moon,
town far behind him, muted its lapping waves.
1. The word li
refers to a unit of measurement. At the time this poem was
written, a li was roughly equivalent to about a kilometer,
but different Emperors in different centuries lengthened or
shortened the measurement as they saw fit.
2. The Han ruled
from 206 BCE to 26 BCE. They lost power for a few decades,
then reclaimed reclaimed their authority and continued to
rule until 220 CE. The symbol of the Han family was the crescent
moon. At the time the poet writes about Maoling palace, the
building has been in ruins for nearly 700 years.
3. The statue,
made of bronzework molded together with lead, has been melted
by the fire that destroyed the palace, and the lead (which
melts at a lower temperature than bronze) has run out from
its eyes, giving it the appearance of crying.
4. The word translated
here as "Heaven" is tian in Mandarin Chinese.
The written symbol for tian literally means "The
highest," and can refer to both "the sky" and
"the gods." The written ideograph shows an inverted
V shape with two horizontal lines crossing the top, the highest
of which holds blank space, indicating that there is nothing
above this highest point.