On the Plain of Imperial Tombs
At dusk my heart is filled with gloom;
I drive my cab to ancient tomb.
The setting sun seems so sublime,
But it is near its dying time.
The Merry-making Plain was also called Plain of Imperial Tombs for emperors were buried there. The last two lines are proverbial as “He laughs best who laughs last.”
“On the Plain of Imperial Tombs” is a poem by Li Shangyin, a poet of the Tang Dynasty. This poem praises the beautiful scenery before dusk and expresses his feelings. The first two lines point out the reason for ascending to the plain: because of the discomfort at dusk and sunset, he drove up to the ancient plain; the second two lines strongly praise the beauty of the evening scenery: under the afterglow of the setting sun, the world is painted with a layer of gold. The last two lines of the poem have been popular and are very rich in meaning, with great aesthetic and ideological value. The language of the poem is clear and unadorned, and the rhythm is bright and clear, with a deep and philosophical feeling.