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Observations placeholder

Tu Fu - The Recruiting Sergeant



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

From A Lute of Jade – Being selections from the Classical poets of China [The Wisdom of the East series] edited and translated by L.  Cranmer-Byng and Dr S. Kapadia [1918]

The Recruiting Sergeant

At sunset in the village of Che-Kao
I sought for shelter; on my heels there trod
A grim recruiting sergeant, of the kind
That seize their prey by night. A poor old man
Saw -- scaled the wall, and vanished. Through the gate
An old bent woman hobbled, and she marched
A pace before him. Loudly in his wrath
The grim recruiter stormed; and bitterly
She answered: "Listen to the voice of her
Who drags before you. Once I had three sons --
Three in the Emperor's camp. A letter came
From one, and -- there was one; the others fell
In the same battle -- he alone was left,
Scarce able from the iron grasp of Death
To tear his miserable life.
My two dead boys! for ever and for aye
Death holds them. In our wretched hut remains
The last of all the men -- a little child,
Still at his mother's breast. She cannot flee,
Since her few tatters scarce suffice to clothe
Her shrunken limbs.

My years are nearly done,
My strength is well-nigh spent; yet I will go
Readily to the camping-ground. Perchance
I may be useful for some humble task,
To cook the rice or stir the morning meal."
. . . . .
Night slipped away. The clamour and the cries
Died down; but there was weeping and the sound
Of stifled moans around me.
At the break
Of dawn I hurried on my road, and left
None but an old and broken man behind.

The source of the experience

Tu Fu

Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Loneliness and isolation


Reducing desires