I suddenly remember the distance that I must travel;
I spring from bed and look out to see the time.
The stars and planets are all grown dim in the sky;
Long, long is the road; I cannot stay.
I am going on service, away to the battle-ground,
And I do not know when I shall come back.
I hold your hand with only a deep sigh;
Afterwards, tears — in the days when we are parted. With all your might enjoy the spring flowers,
But do not forget the time of our love and pride.
To His Wife (c. 100 BC); written when Su Wu was called to battle against the Hsiung-nu (on parting from his wife).
[Su Wu] relates how he shed tears during this separation, and urges his wife to remember their first love. He vows to return to her if he survives his ordeal, but if he dies first, then he hopes she will remember him with love. The courtly tone of his message to his wife, and his expression of integrity are mirrored in Su Wu's political life. In captivity he was offered the chance of liberty if he renounced his country, but he refused to become a traitor, for which he was honoured on his return.
Anne Birrell, in Games Poets Play: Readings in Medieval Chinese Poetry (2004), p. 239