Sunday, 10 April 2011

The Ruins of Lo-Yang

I climb to the ridge of the Pei-mang Hills
And look down on the city of Lo-yang.
In Lo-yang how still it is!
Palaces and houses all burnt to ashes.
Walls and fences all broken and gaping,
Thorns and brambles shooting up to the sky.
I do not see the old men;
I only see the new young men.
I turn aside, for the straight road is lost;
The fields are overgrown and will never be ploughed
I have been away such a long time
That I do not know which path is which.
How sad and ugly the empty moors are!
A thousand miles without the smoke of a chimney.
I think of our life together all those years;
My heart is tied with sorrow and I cannot speak.

Ts'ao Chih (192-232) trans: A Waley.

The poem relates to the sacking of Lo-Yang by rebels in 190. Obviously there was great devastation and loss as the "new young men" destroyed and "burnt to ashes" the work of generations of "old men". The poem reminds us of the heart's "sorrow" which is beyond words.


  1. It also reminds us Gwilym that nothing much changes - man has never learned and I don't suppose he ever will.

  2. Thanks Pat and John, and I have a few more up my sleeve!


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