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Four Songs at the Foot of the Great Wall

Lu, Lun 1 (737?-799 CE?)

The arrows in the general's quiver are strengthened with vulture quills at their tails.
A embroidered flag with a swallowtail streamer flutters beside him.
The general stands tall to announce his new orders.
All the soldiers in the camp hail him in one voice.


The forest is dark and the grass trembles in the wind.
The general draws his bow at night
For he thinks he sees a tiger blocking the path.
At dawn he searches for his arrow
And discovers it stuck in the crevice of a stone.

The moonlight is dim and wild geese fly high.
The King of Huns flees under the cover of night.
The general resolves to lead his cavalry to capture him
Even though heavy snow covers his troops' bows and swords.


A banquet is served in the wilderness camp.
The border tribes have come to congratulate the general on his triumph.
In spirits high from drink,
He dances with his swords even while wearing his armor.
The thundering drum beats shake the mountains and rivers.


1 Yun-yan was Lun Lu's alternate first name. His family was an eminent clan in Fan-yang City (present day Zhuo-zhou City in Hebei Province) in Jun-wang County. His ancestral home was in Pu-zhou City (west of present day Yong-ji City in Shanxi Province) of He-zhong County. Between the end of the Tian-bao Period and the beginning of the Da-li Period Lun Lu failed the Advanced Exam many times. Due to Prime Minister Jin Wang's recommendation, he was appointed as a junior officer at Wen-xiang City. Later, he passed the Advanced Exam during the late Da-li Period and became a judge in a marshal's headquarters. At the peak of his career, he was a senior secretary of the Finance and Revenue Department. He, Zhong-fu Ji, Hong Han, Qi Qian, Shu Si-kong, Fa Miao, Tong Cui, Wei Geng, Shen Xia-hou and Duan Li are honored as the Ten Gifted Poets of the Da-li Period. He wrote many "farewell" poems. Some of his poems reflected the nature of military life. He was good at telling stories through his poetry. He was adept at writing in many poetic styles. His ancient style was imposing; his contemporary styles, L -shi (stanza of eight lines with certain rules about rhymes, tones and antitheses) and Jue-ju (Chinese poem with four lines to a stanza, each consisting of five or seven characters), were refined, lucid and lively.
    During Emperor De-zong's reign, Qu-mou Wei, the brother of Lu's mother, recommended Lu's talent. Consequently, the emperor often summoned Lu to his home. Whenever the emperor wrote a poem, Lu would responded to it by writing a similar one. One day the emperor asked Qu-mou, "Where are Lun Lu and Yi Li?" Qu-mou replied, "Lun Lu followed Zhen Hun to He-zong City." The emperor sent a messenger to summon Lu to the palace. Soon after Lun Lu died. Emperor Wen-zong loved to read Lun Lu's poems. The emperor asked Prime Minister De-yu Li, "Does the imperial library collect Lun Lu痴 writings? Did Lun Lu have sons?" Li answered, "Lun Lu had four sons. They all have passed the Advanced Exams and work in the cabinet." The emperor sent people to Lun Lu's home to search for his writings. They found about five hundred of his poems.