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阳关曲·赠张继愿 An Ode to Emperor Zhang Jiyuan


原作:苏东坡 (11世纪)






An Ode to Emperor Zhang Jiyuan

- to the tune of Yangguan

written by Su Dongpo(11th century)

translated by Julia Min (2022)

In Three Receive-Surrender Towns stood Zhang Jiyuan

on the old battlefield by the south of Reviewing Stand.

I wish he had taken all the heads of the invading Qidan,

before his gold armour and flag staffs back to homeland.

For appreciation:

This poem was composed in 1078. The first two lines sigh for the Tang dynasty, a time of great defences and armaments against invasions. Zhang Jiyuan once came up with a genius design of a defence infrastructure with three cities strategically connected over hundreds of kilometres along the north of the Yellow River. The invaders who breached the first city would find the people escaped to a second fortification.

Su Shi aims at a criticism on the present where things now have fallen a bit to ruin these days, not just the three towns, but also the Song’s military power too. The Qi Dan was a tribe of warring invaders to the north of China, in the late Yi Dynasty.


1. Three Receive-Surrender Towns: According to the Ancient Tang Book, there was a man named Zhang Jiyuan who had three towns built in the year 707 to protect Tang’s north border.

2. Reviewing Stand: the big stand for reviewing tropps with horses built by Xiang Yu who once fought a famous battle here with Liu Bang, the Han Emperor, hence’the old battlefield’.

3. Qidan: a barbarian minority in the north in the Liao State in late Yi Dynasty;


1. Blooming Alone in Winter by Gordon Osing, Julia Min and Huang Haipeng,published by the People's Publication House Henan Province in 1990 (《寒心未肯随春态》戈登.奥赛茵,闵晓红,黄海鹏) (“To Zhang Jiyuan - to the tune of Yangguan: At the City-That-Knows-No-Defeat stood steadfast Zhang,/South of the reviewing stands at the old battlefield scene./I hate that you didn't take all the Qi Dan's heads./Your gold armor and flagstaffs covered with teeth, they came home clean.”)

2. pictures from google



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