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CROSSING LINGDING SEA

by Wen Tianxiang (1236 - 1283, Song Dynasty)
English translation: John Balcom

I recall the hardships and difficult times from my early years;

The fighting, though sparse, has gone on for four astrological cycles.

The mountains and rivers are broken into pieces
and blown away by the wind;

The body is carried as the rain carries duckweed.

The Huangkong shores bespeak fear,

The Lingding Sea sighs with loneliness.

Since the beginning, who has not died?

Let me leave a loyal heart shining in history.

──from Wenshan Ji (Collection of Wenshan)

ANNOTATIONS ON THE SONG OF RIGHTEOUSNESS (EXCERPT)

by Zhao Youpei (1913 - 1999)
English translation: Zhi Yue

The life of the universe is enriched by awe-inspiring righteousness. The undying soul is fostered by luminous and mighty entities such as rivers and mountains, the sun and the stars. These symbolize the majesty and indomitable spirit of humanity.

During the eras of peace, many have devoted themselves to the country. As times became more difficult, stronger willpower also arose in their minds; the more sinister the environment, the more brilliant their integrity became. Their grand and spectacular endeavors continued to live in the hearts of a million generations. Many of those heroes, who had bravely sacrificed themselves, were all elites of the heaven and earth.

As a new chapter of history unfolds, I catch a glimpse of the collapsing ice mountain. Rays of sunlight shine upon the earth, mountains, and rivers on a spring morning, transforming into the spirit of righteousness in the world, prevailing sternly through the ages. Their loyal sacrifices shall illuminate with the sun and moon, for their own lives and deaths are regarded as merely duckweeds in the sea.

Oh, righteousness! Righteousness that pervades the history of humanity. It is you who has established the order of the world; it is you who has maintained the ethics of society; it is you who has strengthened the foundation of morality!

Death, who since the ancient times has been exempted from it? Even if my body is torn and bones shattered, my longing to offer my patriotic devotion shall be filled with glory and sweet happiness.

──from Gujin Wenxuan (Selection of Ancient and Contemporary Literature)