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Syndic Literary Journal

The Departure of a Newly-Wed

By Chinese Poet Du Fu  712-770

Translated from Chinese by Hong Ai Bai and John Digby

Narration By Joan Digby

Vine-growing plants like Tusi and Pengma rarely live long. Marrying a daughter to an enlisted man is not much different from abandoning her at a roadside. 


I recently became a wife, but my husband left even before he warmed our bed on our wedding night. In the morning we got married and at dusk he already departed in a rush. Though my husband was not sent far away, he was positioned to guard the border at Heyang. I didn’t even have a chance to be properly introduced to his family. How can I pay the ritual visit to my in-laws by myself?


My parents raised me in the traditional way by keeping me indoors away from the outside world, hoping that eventually I would be married and settled in a family, no matter rich or poor. Who could anticipate that this man would be sent to a battlefield and leave me in deep remorse tearing my heart apart


Though I would rather follow him wherever he goes, the state of affairs has turned into such chaos and danger that the only thing I can do is to forget about the wedding and send him off to his duty. It is said that a woman in the troop would only hurt morale.


Now I can only sigh and take off my silk wedding dress, which took me so long to prepare as a girl from a poor family. I will have no chance to put this dress on again, nor can I remove this beautiful cosmetic make-up in the presence of my husband.


Looking up to the sky, I see birds, old or young, flying in pairs. I know there are all kinds of misfortunes in human life, and for me it will be a long parting from my new husband.


Compiled/Published by LeRoy Chatfield
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