Here we are, picking the first fern-shoots
And saying: When shall we get back to our country?
Here we are because we have the Ken-nin for our foemen,
We have no comfort because of these Mongols.
We grub the soft fern-shoots,
When anyone says “Return,” the others are full of sorrow.
Sorrowful minds, sorrow is strong, we are hungry and thirsty.
Our defence is not yet made sure, no one can let his friend return.
We grub the old fern-stalks.
We say: Will we be let to go back in October?
There is no ease in royal affairs, we have no comfort.
Our sorrow is bitter, but we would not return to our country.
What flower has come into blossom?
Whose chariot? The General’s.
Horses, his horses even, are tired. They were strong.
We have no rest, trhee battles a month.
By heavn, his horses are tired.
The generals are on them, the soldiers are by them.
The horses are well trained, the generals have ivory arrows and
quivers ornamented with fish-skin.
The enemy is swift, we must be careful.
When we set out, the willows were drooping with spring,
We come back in the snow,
We go slowly, we are hungry and thirsty,
Our mind is full of sorrow, who will know of our grief?

By Bunno, reputedly 1100 B. C.

Analysis, meaning and summary of the poem by

2 Comments

  1. Sheryl Skoglund says:

    Origin:
    < Chin shù Shu   /ʃu/ Show Spelled [shoo] Show IPA Shu –noun Egyptian Religion . the god of the air, sometimes represented with arms upraised, supporting the vault of heaven. "The enemy is swift, we must be careful. When we set out, the willows were drooping with spring, We come back in the snow, We go slowly, we are hungry and thirsty, Our mind is full of sorrow, who will know of our grief?" The poet speaks of the grief.

  2. David Eisenman says:

    let’s fix line 16 : three

    This poem is the basis of two Guy Davenport publications and I have just linked this page to the Guy Davenport Wikipedia entry. So more people may be coming here for the poem.

    THANKS for providing this site!!!!

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