The Song of Ascending to the Platform of You City 1

Chen, Zi Ang 2 (659 A.D.-700 A.D.)

Thinking of history,
I lament I could not meet the great emperors of the past.
Looking to the future,
I worry I will have little opportunity to work for a wise emperor.
As I think that space and time are infinite,
I feel sad and my tears fall,
Knowing that I am alone.

1 The Platform of You City was built by King Zhao of Country Yan to recruit talented people. Indeed, from there the king found several men with great potential like Yi Yue and Huai Guo, and helped them accomplish great work.

2 This poem was written in 697 A.D. while Chen accompanied Commander You-Yi Wu's troops to attack Kitans-Tartars. Due to Wu's lack of capability, Chinese troops lost the first battle, which caused panic among them. Chen suggested some good defensive strategies to Wu, but Wu did not listen to him. Instead, he demoted Chen from advisor to sergeant. Before Chen became Wu's advisor, he had been an advisor of Empress Ze-Tian Wu. During that time, he had also suffered frequent personal attacks because he had criticized government policies. This poem shows his indignation at the fact that his ambition could not be realized.