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Last night a friend (who grew up in China), told me of a traditional poem which illustrates the vanity of humans, and how we can so easily over estimate ourselves. He explained the rhyme scheme and stanza structure. I have attempted to take what he told me and create passable English verse. Whether it is successful as a re-creation of the Chinese poem or as passable verse I will leave to others. But since the exercise amused me, I set it down here for the possible amusement of others.

The width of a wall has troubled you so

You’ve written to me to ruin your foe

Your governor-brother across the state.

Your fields spread so far and wide

A thousand acres on every side:

The width of a hand has filled you with hate!

The Great Wall guards our state against the horde

It keeps our fields peaceful from all swords,

Even your walls are safe beneath its shade.

Tell me my brother, the name of the man 

The name of the emperor of all the land 

Who long ago raised the Great Wall of China.