To Lieutenant Zhang 1 on the Night of August 15th 2

Harn, Yuh     (768A.D.-824A.D.)

Light clouds rolled in all directions, obscuring the Milky Way.
Fresh wind blew and the moon sprinkled comforting light.
The sand was flat;
The water flowed quietly without sound or shadow.
I raised my wine cup and asked you to sing a song.
Your voice was sad and your lyrics were bitter.
My tears were falling like rain before you finished your song.
The waves in Lake Dong-Ting were so high they seemed to touch the sky;
Jiu-Yi Mountain was tall.
Dragons haunted the mountain and orangutans growled.
Nine out of ten who come here to assume office die.
I live alone and remain in low profile like a criminal in hiding.
Every time I rise from my bed, I am afraid of snakes.
Every time I eat, I fear the food may be toxic.
The humidity from the sea mixes with secretions from insects and reptiles to give a smell like rotten fish.
Yesterday the large drum in front of the mayor's office was beaten a thousand times.
A new emperor succeeded to the throne.
He wants to follow Emperor Shun by appointing wise officials like Kui and Gao 3.
His pardoning edict traveled a thousand miles in one day.
All criminals sentenced to capital punishment may will live.
Demoted officials can be reinstated and officials in exiles can return home.
The emperor is determined to eliminate corruption and remove evil from his government.
The mayor listed our names and sent the list to the emperor's court,
But the governor suppressed the document.
Our unfortunate fate forced us to move to the jungles.
A lieutenant is a low-ranking position not even worth mentioning.
We will suffer flogging and beating if we make even a small mistake.
The officials who were demoted along with us are on their way to the capital 4.
However, our road back to the capital is like a steep path to heaven,
Which is difficult to pursue or climb.
Please stop your song and listen to mine!
Mine is entirely different from yours:
"The moon tonight was the roundest and brightest of the year.
One's life is determined by nothing but fate.
If we had wine and would not drink,
We would not be deserving of the bright moon."

1 In 803 A.D., both Yu Han and Shu Zhang were supervisors at the capital, Chang-An. That year a severe drought occurred in Shaanxi province, which surrounded the capital. Out of loyalty to the nation and sympathy for common people, Han and Zhang advised Emperor De to reduce taxes. Some officials seized this opportunity to slander them. The slander irritated the emperor. Consequently, the emperor demoted Han and Zhang to be mayors of small cities. In 805 A.D., Emperor Shun succeeded to the throne and granted an amnesty. Han and Zhang went to Chen City to wait for their new assignments. In August of the same year, Emperor Shun gave up the throne to Emperor Xian, who granted another amnesty. According to reason, Han and Zhang should have been reinstated. However, the Governor of Hunan Province, Ping Yang, hindered the process by assigning them to be lieutenants. Their hope to return to the capital suffered another heavy blow.

2 According to the lunar calendar, the night of August 15th was a full moon.

3 Kui and Gao were wise officials of Emperor Shun (c. 2333 B.C.).

4 The other officials went to the capital to receive their new assignments.