Du Fu: Tong Guan Petty Official

Tong Guan Petty Official

潼 关 吏
士 卒 何 草 草
筑 城 潼 关 道。
大 城 铁 不 如
小 城 万 丈 余。
借 问 潼 关 吏:
“修 关 还 备 胡?“
要 我 不 马 行
为 我 指 山 隅:
“连 云 列 战 格
飞 鸟 不 能 逾;
胡 来 但 自 守
岂 复 忧 西 都!
丈 人 视 要 处
窄 狭 容 单 车;
艰 难 奋 长 戟
万 古 用 一 夫。“
“哀 哉 桃 林 战
百 万 化 为 鱼!
请 嘱 防 关 将
慎 勿 学 歌 舒!

 

Tong Guan Li

Shi zu he cao cao
Zhu cheng tong guan dao.
Da cheng tie bu ru
Xiao cheng wan zhang yu.

Jie wen tong guan li:
“Xiu guan huan bei hu?”
Yao wo xia ma xing
Wei wo zhi shan yu:

“Lian yun lie zhan ge
Fei niao bu neng yu;
Hu lai dan zi shou
Qi fu you xi dou!

Zhang ren shi yao chu
Zhai xia rong dan che;
Jian nan fen chang ji
Wan gu yong yi fu.”

Ai zai tao lin zhan
Bai wan hua wei yu!
Qing zhu fang guan jiang
Ju wu xue ge shu!

 

Tong Guan Petty Official

[Tong Guan was a strategic mountain pass near the Yellow River, and between the capital cities of Chang’an and Luoyang. This pass and area especially critical during this time in 756 AD when An Lushan and his army of insurgents poured in through this pass and took over this part of China.]

How careless and hasty were the soldiers and planners
Now Tong Guan roads and ramparts are being built up.
These major cities need ironworks of thousands of feet
Unlike the city walls of small cities.

“May I ask this Tong Guan foreman
Has the mountain pass garrisons been repaired and made ready for the northern nomads?”
He wants me to ride with him to make an inspection
His pointing fingers show me the mountain fortifications.

“See the clouds arranged like battle formations
Flying birds cannot penetrate them;
If the nomads arrive, we can simply and easily defend this pass
Do not worry about our regions to the west.”

“An honorable man like you can examine all he wants
The pass is so narrow, carts can enter only in a single file.
Difficult and arduous for their long halberds to be effective against us
Throughout all the years of history, only one man could hold off whole armies.

“Such grief the battle of Tao Lin, what a disaster
Our thousands were cut down like the chopping of fish!
I implore you to keep our troops close to this secure area
Be careful not to imitate the fate of General Ge Shu!”

 

Notes:

Tao Lin: Literally means Peach Tree Forest.

General Ge Shu: The army leader who lead the Chinese army out of this strategic mountain pass to encounter the enemy in the open. The Chinese lost over twenty thousand that day.

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