c. 215 | China

Courtyard Fight

Attending a cockfight in China.

The cinnabar cockerels sport resplendent hues,
Their paired spurs like tips of blades.
Ready to parade their blazing might,
They join in battle on this courtyard path.
Sharp claws test the jade steps,
Glaring eyes are infused with fiery light;
Long tail-feathers lift in a startling wind,
Hackle quills spread in display.
They spring and wield bent beaks,
Strike like lightning and again fly back.

©1994 by Columbia University Press. Used with permission of Columbia University Press.

About This Text

Liu Jian, “Cockfight.” An official in the service of a feudal family, Liu Jian was a distinguished member of the Eastern Han–dynasty poetry group known as the Seven Masters of the Jian-an Reign.