Vast Chu Sky

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Dongtinghu, Grotto Court Lake from the Yueyang Tower

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Vast Chu Sky
        Lu Xun 1881-1936

Leaves drop
        on Dongting Lake,
Under vast Chu sky,
Eyebrow black
      fresh blood
                stain warriors' tunics.
Beside the lake
        a traveler
                who cannot sing,
Lost in the autumn waves
                the Li Sao.

Chǔtiān Gāo
Lǔ Xùn 1881-1936
Tòngtíng mù luò Chǔ tiān gāo,
Méidài xīnghóng wò zhànpáo.
Zé pàn yǒu rén yín bùdé,
Qiūbō miǎomiǎo shī lílí.
Translator: Dongbo 東波

Lu Xun recorded this poem in his diary on Dec 31, 1932 and dedicated it to his friend Yu Dafu. The 'eyebrow black and fresh bood' refer to the powder makeup of the Nationalist officer's concubines, and the fresh blood that of their victims. The Li Sao is the ancient elegy written by Chu Yuan of the state of Chu over 2,000 years ago.

Lake Dongting is in northern Hunan Province. It is flooded in the spring by the Changjiang and drains back into the Changjiang in late summer and winter.

Chu is the name of an ancient kingdom in this area, south of the Changjiang in Hunan Province.

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