Xu Hun Poem: Frontier Song – 许浑《塞下曲》








[1] 桑乾北:桑乾河北岸。桑乾河,永定河的上游,发源于山西,流经华北平原。

[2] 寒衣:御寒的衣服。

Frontier Song

Xu Hun

In snow our men did fight,

Half of them died at night.

But letters came next day:

Winter clothes on the way.

The poet is grieved over the soldiers’ death for lack of winter clothes.


“Frontier Song” is a five-line poem written by Xu Hun, a poet of the Tang Dynasty. The poem highly condenses the tragedy of war in an extremely concise manner. The first two lines describe the night battle that took place in the north of Sangqian River; the second two lines describe the letters sent by relatives who were far away from home, not knowing that their loved ones had died in the war, which brings out the strong atmosphere of tragedy. The whole poem is concise, cleverly conceived, tragic, and deep in meaning, euphemistically and implicitly expressing the author’s condemnation of the war and his sympathy for the soldiers and their families.

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