Editor’s note: Starting this Friday, we will publish translations of poetry and prose culled from literatures in various languages and translated into English by Motýlí Voko, our newest contributor. The translations, and other musings by Voko, will appear in the blog every Friday.


Gun-gun, thunders the Long River. To the east the waters pass,
the foam of breaking waves rinsing life out of heroes.

Right and wrong, success and defeat, turn your head and they are hollow.
The dark green mountain stands always as before,
the evening sun reddens ever once more.

The old man, fishing in the river, gathering wood on the isle,
knows the gaze of the autumn moon, the feel of the April breeze.

Over a jug of cheap, murky wine, friends happily drink to each other.
Of then and now, of how many things,
they tell with a smile.

translated from the Chinese by Motýlí Voko

Long River Chinese poem

About the poem: Originally written by Yang Shen (1488-1559) as lyrics to a set tune, this poem was later appended as a preface to the immensely popular novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms (San-kuo yen-yi, first printed in 1494), which is how most Chinese readers know it today.

Jan Vihan is a contributing writer for In The Fray.

In The Fray is a nonprofit staffed by volunteers. If you liked this piece, could you please donate $10?