Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE DESECRATION OF THE HAN TOMB, by CHANG TSAI

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE DESECRATION OF THE HAN TOMB, by                    
First Line: At pei-mang how they rise to heaven
Last Line: "and am sorely grieved at the thought of ""then"" and ""now."
Alternate Author Name(s): Meng-yang
Subject(s): China - Middle Ages (600 B.c.- 618 A.d.); Graves; Tombs; Tombstones

AT Pei-mang how they rise to Heaven,
Those high mounds, four or five in the fields!
What men lie buried under these tombs?
All of them were Lords of the Han world.
"Kung" and "Wen" gaze across at each other:
The Yuan mound is all grown over with weeds.
When the dynasty was falling, tumult and disorder arose,
Thieves and robbers roamed like wild beasts.
Of earth they have carried away more than one handful,
They have gone into vaults and opened the secret doors.
Jewelled scabbards lie twisted and defaced:
The stones that were set in them, thieves have carried away,
The ancestral temples are hummocks in the ground:
The walls that went round them are all levelled flat.
Over everything the tangled thorns are growing:
A herd-boy pushes through them up the path.
Down in the thorns rabbits have made their burrows:
The weeds and thistles will never be cleared away.
Over the tombs the ploughshare will be driven
And peasants will have their fields and orchards there.
They that were once lords of a thousand hosts
Are now become the dust of the hills and ridges.
I think of What Yun-men said
And am sorely grieved at the thought of "then" and "now."

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