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Ch`u Yuan 


Fourth Century, B.C.

A loyal minister to the feudal Prince of Ch`u, towards the close of the Chou dynasty. His master having, through disregard of his counsel, been captured by the Ch`in State, Ch`u Yuan sank into disfavour with his sons, and retired to the hills, where he wrote his famous `Li Sao', of which the following is one of the songs. He eventually drowned himself in the river Mi-Lo, and in spite of the search made for his body, it was never found. The Dragon-boat Festival, held on the fifth day of the fifth moon, was founded in his honour.

The Land of Exile

Methinks there's a genius Roams in the mountains, Girdled with ivy And robed in wisteria, Lips ever smiling, Of noble demeanour, Driving the yellow pard, Tiger-attended, Couched in a chariot With banners of cassia, Cloaked with the orchid, And crowned with azaleas; Culling the perfume Of sweet flowers, he leaves In the heart a dream-blossom, Memory haunting. But dark is the forest Where now is my dwelling, Never the light of day Reaches its shadow. Thither a perilous Pathway meanders. Lonely I stand On the lonelier hill-top, Cloudland beneath me And cloudland around me. Softly the wind bloweth, Softly the rain falls, Joy like a mist blots The thoughts of my home out; There none would honour me, Fallen from honours. I gather the larkspur Over the hillside, Blown mid the chaos Of boulder and bellbine; Hating the tyrant Who made me an outcast, Who of his leisure Now spares me no moment: Drinking the mountain spring, Shading at noon-day Under the cypress My limbs from the sun glare. What though he summon me Back to his palace, I cannot fall To the level of princes. Now rolls the thunder deep, Down the cloud valley, And the gibbons around me Howl in the long night. The gale through the moaning trees Fitfully rushes. Lonely and sleepless I think of my thankless Master, and vainly would Cradle my sorrow.

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