秋风辞 Autumn Wind Song
汉武帝 （Author: Emperor Wu of Han, 2nd century BC)
秋风起兮白云飞， autumn wind rise connection word white cloud fly
草木黄落兮雁南归。grass tree yellow fall connection word geese south return
兰有秀兮菊有芳， orchid have elegant connection word chrysanthemum have fragrance
怀佳人兮不能忘。 think of beautiful woman connection word no can forget
泛楼船兮济汾河， float building ship connection word cross Fen river
横中流兮扬素波。 cross middle flow connection word raise white wave
箫鼓鸣兮发棹歌， bamboo flute drum sound connection word sing paddle song
欢乐极兮哀情多。 happy happy to the extreme connection word sorrow feelings many
少壮几时兮奈老何！young strong how much time connection word deal with old question word
The autumn wind rises and sends white clouds flying
The grass and the trees have yellowed, and the geese flown south.
Orchids and chrysanthemums are fragrant and elegant.
I think of a beautiful woman I will never forget.
As my flagship crosses the Fen river.
We raise white waves navigating the channel.
Flutes and drums sound; the oarsmen burst into song.
Great happiness can lead to great sorrow.
Oh, how much time we had when we were young?
How can we deal with growing old?
This poem was written by Emperor Wu of Han, a brilliant and ambitious emperor of the Han Dynasty. Emperor Wu is known for his military expansion during his reign, as well as his patronage of musical and poetic arts. It is said that he wrote this poem during his 40s, when he travelled to Shanxi province to worship the deity of deep earth and soil. During his trip, he received a message that his army had just won a victory on their mission to conquer the south. This poem was therefore written during a time when his empire was strong and his personal power seemed unlimited. The last sentence of the poem contrasted his seemingly unlimited early power with the fact that he wouldn’t be able to stop time and prevent himself from getting old. That’s probably the reason why he seemed to be abusing his power during his later reign — he put his quest for the elixir of immortality ahead of his subjects’ well being. He even married off one of his daughters to a magician who promised to find the magic elixir. The frustrated emperor later executed his son-in-law for failure to fulfill this promise.