Winter 2000 • Vol. XXII No. 1 Poetry |

A Mission

He was sent by our emperor to the west,together with a hundred men,to acquire the grand horses thatHis Majesty had heard would sweat blood.Also, it was reported that the Hunshad killed the king of a distant countryand made his skull into a wine bowl;our emperor ordered him to reachthat country and turn it into an allyso we could use our enemy's enemy. On his way west the emissary was capturedand detained time and again.Among the Huns alone, he stayed four years.Later he escaped, continued his journeyand did find that remote country;but its ruler had forgottenthe shame of his granduncle's death—never having heard of our empirehe refused to be our vassal. Twenty-eight years later the emissaryreturned, toothless, thoughstill followed by a tottering servant.He brought back with hima Bactrian wife, seven children,and the "celestial horses" forthe emperor who had died a decade ago. All his men had vanished in the deserts,but their lives were not totally wasted—the loss produc

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Emperor

By Ha Jin

He was sent by our emperor to the west,together with a hundred men,to acquire the grand horses thatHis Majesty had heard would sweat blood.Also, it was reported that the Hunshad […]

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