Ezra Pound Poem

Song of the Bowmen of Shu

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Here we are, picking the first fern-shoots
And saying: When shall we get back to our

Here we are because we have the Ken-nin for our

We have no comfort because of these Mongols.
We grub the soft fern-shoots,
When anyone says “Return,” the others are full of

Sorrowful minds, sorrow is strong, we are hungry

          and thirsty.
Our defence is not yet made sure, no one can let

          his friend return.
We grub the old fern-stalks.
We say: Will we be let to go back in October?
There is no ease in royal affairs, we have no comfort.
Our sorrow is bitter, but we would not return to our

What flower has come into blossom?
Whose chariot? The General’s.
Horses, his horses even, are tired. They were strong.
We have no rest, three battles a month.
By heaven, his horses are tired.
The generals are on them, the soldiers are by them.
The horses are well trained, the generals have ivory

           arrows and quivers ornamented with fish-

The enemy is swift, we must be careful.
When we set out, the willows were drooping with

We come back in the snow,
We go slowly, we are hungry and thirsty,
Our mind is full of sorrow, who will know of our


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Song in the Manner of Housman


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