To My Brothers, Sisters, and Cousins

Pai, Chu-I (772 A.D.-846 A.D.)


    In the spring of 799 A.D., General Dong died. His troops rebelled against Emperor De. Soon after, General Wu also joined the rebellion. In response, the emperor sent troops via sixteen routes to crush them. Many battles were fought in Henan Province. This blocked the transport of resources from the south to Shaanxi Province. The war combined with severe drought to produce a great famine there. My hometown is located in Shaanxi Province. Although my brothers and sisters have returned home after the war, some of my cousins have been scattered to distant places. I miss my extended family as I watch the moon, so I send this poem to my brothers, sisters and cousins.

The war and drought wiped out the inheritance of our extended family.
My cousins desperately fled in different directions to search for havens.
Our estate collapsed into ruins after the war.
My brothers and sisters were destitute, lost, and homeless.
Each of us was accompanied only by a shadow,
Like a wild goose flying a thousand miles alone.
We left our roots like grass seeds dispersed in the autumn wind.
This evening as we watch the bright moon from five different places,
The same homesickness will grasp our hearts and our tears will fall as one.