Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE BATTLE, by CH'U YUAN

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THE BATTLE, by            
First Line: We grasp our battle spears: we don our breast-plates of
Last Line: Captains among the ghosts, heroes among the dead.
Alternate Author Name(s): Qu Ping; Qu Yuan
Subject(s): China - Early Period (To 200 B.c.); War

"WE grasp our battle-spears: we don our breast-plates of hide.
The axles of our chariots touch: our short swords meet.
Standards obscure the sun: the foe roll up like clouds.
Arrows fall thick: the warriors press forward.
They menace our ranks: they break our line.
The left-hand trace-horse is dead: the one on the right is smitten.
The fallen horses block our wheels: they impede the yoke-horses!"

They grasp their jade drum-sticks: they beat the sounding drums.
Heaven decrees their fall: the dread Powers are angry.

The warriors are all dead: they lie on the moor-field.
They issued but shall not enter: they went but shall not return.
The plains are flat and wide; the way home is long.
Their swords lie beside them: their black bows, in their hand.
Though their limbs were torn, their hearts could not be repressed.
They were more than brave: they were inspired with the spirit of "Wu."
Steadfast to the end, they could not be daunted.
Their bodies were stricken, but their souls have taken Immortality --
Captains among the ghosts, heroes among the dead.

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