Li Yi Poem: Swallows in the Ruined Palace – 李益《隋宫燕》







Swallows in the Ruined Palace

Li Yi

The swallows’ twitter seems to grieve over the lost spring;

To dust have returned palace flowers on the wing.

Since the overthrown dynasty closed its splendid scene,

They have come many times but nobody is seen.

The poet imagines swallows grieve over the ruined palace of the overthrown dynasty.


“Swallows in the Ruined Palace” is a seven-line poem written by Li Yi, a poet of the Tang Dynasty. The first and second lines of the poem use inversion to write the picture of the swallows confiding in each other. The third and fourth lines are written from the point of view of the swallows to describe the coldness and depression of the Sui Palace after the fall of the Sui Dynasty. The poem expresses the poet’s sighs about the vicissitudes of the human world and his feelings about the fall of the Sui dynasty. The poem is cleverly conceived as it is based on an object (the swallow).

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