The Wind, by Li Jiao

The Wind has been steadily blowing here in the Midwest for three days, intensely so. The sky is thick with clouds and gray. The trees are still empty of leaves. The branches sway in the wind. So, I thought it appropriate for Li Jiao’s visually descriptive poem, The Wind. Li was a long serving chancellor during the reigns of Wu Zetian, her sons Emperor Zhongzong and Emperor Ruizong.


唐, 李峤


The wind stirring autumn leaves
Urging on Spring flowers with
Three foot waves on the river and
Every bamboo swaying

Li Jiao, 645~714

Notes on Translation

About Li Jiao.

One can interpret this poem as the chancellor advising the Empress or Emperor (the Wind) of the Tang Dynasty to carry on a Spring campaign against the enemy. China’s army (the flowers) rolling on like the river with swords drawn (the waves of the river) causing every enemy to submit (bamboo swaying or, bowing, if you prefer)

Èr yuè, 二月, line two means February, but Li intended by February to mean Spring which makes more sense to readers.

Sānchǐ, 三尺, third line, meaning three foot. A unit of measurement and a sword’s length.

Wàn, 万, last line, the symbol for ten thousand, but also meaning a very large number, “all.”

One Comment Add yours

  1. philipach says:

    Where did you find the reading that this poem is a recommendation to go to war? I can’t find any sources giving that story.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s