Chariots rumble and roll: horses whinny and neigh.
footmen at their girdle bows and arrows display.
Fathers, mothers, wives, and children by them go--
'Tis not the choking dust alone that strangles what they say!
Their clothes they clutch; their feet they stamp; their crush blocks up the way.
The sounds of weeping mount above the clouds that gloom the day.
The passers-by inquire of them, "But whither do you go?"
They only say: "We're mustering--do not disturb us so."
These fifteen years and upwards, the Northern Pass defend;
And still at forty years of age their service does not end.
All young they left their villages--just registered were they--
The war they quitted sees again the same men worn and gray.
And all along the boundary their blood has made a sea.
But never till the World is his, will Wu Huang happy be!
Have you not heard--in Shantung there two hundred districts lie.
All overgrown with briar and weed and wasted utterly?
The stouter women swing and hoe and guide the stubborn plough,
The fields have lost their boundaries--the corn grows wildly now.
And routed bands with hunger grim come down in disarray
To rob and rend and outrage them, and treat them as a prey.
Although the leaders question them, the soldiers' plaints resound.
And winter has not stopped the war upon the western bound.
And war needs funds; the Magistrates for taxes press each day.
The land tax and the duties--Ah! how shall these be found?
In times like this stout sons to bear is sorrow and dismay.
Far better girls--to marry, to a home not far away.
But sons!--are buried in the grass!--yon Tsaidam's waste survey!
The bones of those who fell before are bleaching on the plain. Their spirits weep ourghosts to hear lamenting all their pain.
Beneath the gloomy sky there runs a wailing in the rain.