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Thursday, 11 April 2013

At fifteen I went with the army


At fifteen I went with the army,
At fourscore I came home.
On the way I met a man from the village,
I asked him who there was at home.
"That over there is your house,
All covered over with trees and bushes."
Rabbits had run in at the dog-hole,
Pheasants flew down from the beams of the roof.
In the courtyard was growing some wild grain;
And by the well, some wild mallows.
I'll boil the grain and make porridge,
I'll pluck the mallows and make soup.
Soup and porridge are both cooked,
But there is no one to eat them with.
I went out and looked towards the east,
While tears fell and wetted my clothes.

Ancient Chinese poem translated by Arthur Waley

4 comments:

Sackerson said...

Haunting.

James Higham said...

Phew, for a moment I thought you were going to do something 2nd childhoodish.

Roger said...

The bitter and the sweet. The village and home still there, the eternals still eternal and a puzzle - why fourscore? Best not to ask.

A K Haart said...

Sackers - it is - I've read it many times, wondering who wrote it.

James - no chance (:

Roger - I wondered if he may have stayed on into old age as a cook or general factotum.