RELEASING A MIGRANT "YEN" (WILD GOOSE)
At Nine Rivers, ' in the tenth year,* in winter, — heavy snow ;
The river-water covered with ice and the forests broken with their load/
The birds of the air, hungry and cold, went flying east and west;
And with them flew a migrant "yen," loudly clamouring for food.
Among the snow it pecked for grass; and rested on the surface of the ice :
It tried with its wings to scale the sky ; but its tired flight was slow.
The boys of the river spread a net and caught the bird as it flew ;
They took it in their hands to the city-market and sold it there alive.
I that was once a man of the North am now an exile here :
Bird and man, in their different kind, are each strangers in the south.
And because the sight of an exiled bird wounded an exile's heart,
I paid your ransom and set you free, and you flew away to the clouds.
Yen, Yen, flying to the clouds, tell me, whither shall you go?
Of all things I bid you, do not fly to the land of the north-west
In Huai-hsi there are rebel bands * that have not been subdued;
And a thousand thousands armoured men have long been camped in war.
The official army and the rebel army have grown old in their opposite trenches;
The soldier's rations have grown so small, they'll be glad of even you.
The brave boys, in their hungry plight, will shoot you and eat your flesh ;
They will pluck from your body those long feathers and make them into arrow-wings!
' Kiukiang, the poet's place of exile.
' A.D. 815. His first winter at Kiukiang.
* By the weight of snow.
* The revolt of Wu Yüan-chi.