More Translations from the Chinese/Hearing that His Friend was Coming Back from the War

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More Translations from the Chinese  (1919)  by Wang Chien, translated by Arthur Waley
Hearing that His Friend was Coming Back from the War

[66] HEARING THAT HIS FRIEND WAS COMING BACK FROM THE WAR

In old days those who went to fight
In three years had one year's leave.
But in this war the soldiers are never changed;
They must go on fighting till they die on the battle-field.
I thought of you, so weak and indolent,
Hopelessly trying to learn to march and drill.
That a young man should ever come home again
Seemed about as likely as that the sky should fall.
Since I got the news that you were coming back,
Twice I have mounted to the high hall of your home.
I found your brother mending your horse's stall;
I found your mother sewing your new clothes.
I am half afraid; perhaps it is not true;
Yet I never weary of watching for you on the road.
Each day I go out at the City Gate
With a flask of wine, lest you should come thirsty.
Oh that I could shrink the surface of the World,
So that suddenly I might find you standing at my side.