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Song of the Wagons

Wagons rumble rumble
Hhorses whinny whinny
Foot person bow arrow each at waist
Father mother wife children go mutual see off
Dust dust not see Xianyang bridge
Pull clothes stamp foot bar way weep
Weep sound directly up strike clouds clouds
Road side passerby ask foot person
Foot person only say mark down often
Some from ten five north guard river
Even until four ten west army fields
Leave time village chief give bind head
Return come head white go back garrison border
Border post shed blood become sea water
Warlike emperor expand border idea no end
Gentleman not see Han homes hill east two hundred districts
1000 villages 10000 hamlets grow thorns trees
Though be strong women hold hoe plough
Seed grow dyked field not order
Besides again Qin soldier withstand bitter fighting
Be driven not different dogs and chickens
Venerable elder though be ask
Battle person dare state bitterness
Even like this year winter
Not stop pass west soldier
District official urgent demand tax
Tax tax way how pay
True know produce males bad
Contrast be produce females good
Produce female still get married neighbour
Produce male bury follow hundred grass
Gentleman not see Qinghai edge
Past come white skeleton no person gather
New ghost vexed injustice old ghosts weep
Heaven dark rain wet sound screech screech

The wagons rumble and roll,
The horses whinny and neigh,
The conscripts each have bows and arrows at their waists.
Their parents, wives and children run to see them off,
So much dust's stirred up, it hides the Xianyang bridge.
They pull clothes, stamp their feet and, weeping, bar the way,
The weeping voices rise straight up and strike the clouds.
A passer-by at the roadside asks a conscript why,
The conscript answers only that drafting happens often.
"At fifteen, many were sent north to guard the river,
Even at forty, they had to till fields in the west.
When we went away, the elders bound our heads,
Returning with heads white, we're sent back off to the frontier.
At the border posts, shed blood becomes a sea,
The martial emperor's dream of expansion has no end.
Have you not seen the two hundred districts east of the mountains,
Where thorns and brambles grow in countless villages and hamlets?
Although there are strong women to grasp the hoe and the plough,
They grow some crops, but there's no order in the fields.
What's more, we soldiers of Qin withstand the bitterest fighting,
We're always driven onwards just like dogs and chickens.
Although an elder can ask me this,
How can a soldier dare to complain?
Even in this winter time,
Soldiers from west of the pass keep moving.
The magistrate is eager for taxes,
But how can we afford to pay?
We know now having boys is bad,
While having girls is for the best;
Our girls can still be married to the neighbours,
Our sons are merely buried amid the grass.
Have you not seen on the border of Qinghai,
The ancient bleached bones no man's gathered in?
The new ghosts are angered by injustice, the old ghosts weep,
Moistening rain falls from dark heaven on the voices' screeching.

Poem by Du Fu
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