THE Prince of Yan, generous patron of talent,
Burnt for revenge against the tyrant of Qin.
He gathered round him a hundred good men;
At the close of the year he enlisted noble Jing.
A man of honour is willing to die for his friend,
So, raising his sword, he left the Yan city,
And his white charger neighed on the broad road.
Chivalrously he bade them all farewell;
His tall hat bristled from his hero's hair,
And its tassel was streaming up in his fierce breath.
They drank farewell on the banks of the waters of Yi
*Jing Ke, on behalf of his patron the Prince of Yan, made an unsuccessful attempt to assassinate the Emperor Qin Shi Huang in 227 BC. He evaded the prohibition on weapons in the emperor's presence by concealing a sword in a rolled-up map.
At a feast where heroes crowded round every table,
Jian Li mournfully struck the lute,
While Song Yi sang with ringing tones.
The sad wind's sighing died down,
The cold waves whispered, quietly breaking.
A solemn note took the place of tears,
A martial note alerted the strong men.
They knew in their hearts that he would never return,
But only his fame pass on to future ages.
He mounted his carriage and never turned his head;
Flying it vanished towards the palace of Qin.
Furiously he journeyed a myriad miles,
Winding his way he passed a thousand cities.
The thing should have happened when the map was unrolled to its end,
But the cruel lord was nervous and on his guard.
Oh! Pity it was that his skill should be just too little,
And therefore the great deed fail its fulfilment!
Although this man is already so long dead,
For a thousand years our love for him will endure.