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The Ancient Poem

~500 B.C. Anonymous
 

Click, click, and click click click,
By the doorway Mulan weaves.
When all at once the shuttles cease,
A sigh is heard with solemn grief.

'O my daughter who is on your mind?
'O my daughter who is in your heart?
'I have no one on my mind,
I have no one in my heart.

But last night I read the battle roll,
A roll consisting of twelve scrolls.
The Khan is drafting an army of awe,
My father's name on each beadroll.

Alas Father has no grown son,
Alas Mulan has no elder brother.
But I will bye a saddle and a horse,
And join the army in place of Father.

In the East Market she buys a steed,
From the West Market she buys a saddle.
From the South market she buys a bridle,
In the North Market she buys a long whip.

At dawn she bids her family farewell,
At dusk she camps by the Yellow River.

She no longer hears her parents calling,
Upon her pillow the waters whisper.
At dawn she departs the Yellow River,
At dusk she arrives at Black Mountain.

She no longer hears her parents calling,
But tarter horses wailing from Yen Mountain.
She gallops ten thousand miles,
For the war she has to honor.
She crosses lofty hills,
Like an eagle soaring over.

From northern gusts, through biting chills,
Echoes the watchman's clapper.
With wintry glow of icy hue,
Light glimmers on her armor.

Generals die in a hundred battles,
Our warrior's back, how ten years fly.

Upon her return she is summoned
To see the Emperor.
In the Hall of Light,
She receives the highest honor.
She is awarded a promotion to top rank.
The Emperor bestows hundreds of thousands in prizes.

The Khan asks her what she desires.
'Mulan has no use for a minister's post,
Mulan has no other extravagant want.
I wish to borrow a swift footed mount,
To take me back to my home.

When Father and Mother hear she's coming,
They watch by the gate, bracing each other.
When Elder Sister hears she's coming,
She runs runs to her and dabs on rouge powder.
When Little Brother hears she's coming,
He whets his knife, flashing like a light,
And prepares pig and sheep for dinner.

'O let me push open the door to East Chamber,
O let me sit on my bed in West Recess.
So swiftly comes off the warrior's vesture,
And silently I put on my old-time dress.

Beside the window I dress up my hair,
In front of a mirror, I rouge my face.
And when i come out to meet my compeers,
They are perplexed and amazed'
'For twleve years,
We fought as comrades in armes,
The Mulan we knew was not a lady of charm.'

They say to chose a hare,
You pick them up by the ears.
There are telling signs to compare:
In air the male will kick and strike,
While females stare with bleary eyes.
But if are set to the ground,
And left to bounce in a flee,
Who will be so wise as to observe,
That the hare is a he or a she?