“Fighting South of the Castle” by anonymous

A 2,100-year-old Chinese war poem. The era and locale of any specific war is immaterial; the effect of all war remains recognizable.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“Fighting South of the Castle”


translated from the Chinese by Arthur Waley

They fought south of the Castle,
They died north of the wall.
They died in the moors and were not buried.
Their flesh was the food of crows.
“Tell the crows we are not afraid;
We have died in the moors and cannot be buried.
Crows, how can our bodies escape you?”
The waters flowed deep
And the rushes in the pool were dark.
The riders fought and were slain:
Their horses wander neighing.
By the bridge there was a house.
Was it south, was it north?
The harvest was never gathered.
How can we give you your offerings?
You served your Prince faithfully,
Though all in vain.
I think of you, faithful soldiers;
Your service shall not be forgotten.
For in the morning you went out to battle
And at night you did not return.

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