Du Mu Poem: On the Black River Pavilion – 杜牧《题乌江亭》

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题乌江亭[1]

杜牧

胜败兵家事不期[2]

包羞忍耻是男儿。

江东[3]子弟多才俊,

卷土重来未可知。

注释:

[1] 乌江亭:在今安徽省和县东北的乌江镇,唐时属乌江县。楚汉相争时,项羽兵败于此,自刎于乌江岸边。

[2] 不期:难以预料。期,预料。

[3] 江东:长江南岸苏州一带。项羽跟从叔父项粱从这里起兵。

On the Black River Pavilion

Du Mu

A hero can’t foretell victory or defeat.

Why should a loser not stand again on his feet?

There are so many talents on the Southern shore.

Who dare say, once defeated, he can’t win the war?

The Herculean King of Chu, when defeated by the king of Han, killed himself on the Block River in 202 BC.

《题乌江亭》是唐代诗人杜牧创作的一首七言绝句。这首诗议论战争成败之理,提出自己对历史上已有结局的战争的假设性推想。首句言胜败乃兵家常事。次句批评项羽胸襟不够宽广,缺乏大将气度。三四句设想项羽假如回江东重整旗鼓,说不定就可以卷土重来。这首诗对项羽负气自刎的惋惜,但主要的意思却是批评他不善于把握机遇,不善于听取别人的建议,不善于得人、用人。

The poem “On the Black River Pavilion” is a seven-line poem written by Du Mu, a poet of the Tang Dynasty. The poem discusses the theory of success and failure in war, and presents his own hypothetical conjectures about wars that have already ended in history. In the first line, he says that victory and defeat are commonplace in warfare. The second line criticizes Xiang Yu for not being broad-minded enough and lacking the temperament of a great general. The third and fourth lines envisage that Xiang Yu might be able to make a comeback if he returns to Jiangdong to regroup. The poem laments Xiang Yu’s negative death, but the main meaning is to criticize him for not being good at seizing opportunities, not being good at listening to others’ advice, and not being good at getting and using people.

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