. Toward Yehuling, 1211 Unfolding steppes emerge as flattened plains Of long grasses of gold and April-green, While crystal streams, like bold and careless children, Careen away through boundless fallow fields. Horses graze nearby on budding sprouts While courtly falcon streaks the sky alone, Now mantled in the palest morning sun— As all of under-heaven slowly thaws. The squatting yurts that stud the overcast Horizon offer up their steles of smoke. The men astride their horses test the air, Descrying signs in wind and warming soil. For soon it will be time. Soon hooves will faintly stir From sleep a bounded land And whisper words of war. Across the plains, beyond the sleep-eyed herd, A snaking wall of stone, a coiled shield: A hoary dragon sinews mountain paths With flame enough for countless men and steeds. But here the pasture plains are yet untrammeled; Here the runnels course like wayward foals. Here fires only warm, and bowmen hunt, And here still flows the milk of paradise. . Poet's Note: The battle at Yehuling (literally "Wild Fox Ridge") was the first major struggle between the Jin Dynasty and the increasingly-powerful Mongol Empire. The march toward Yehuling began in the early spring of 1211, with the majority of the fighting occurring between August and October of that same year. This part of the campaign was a total victory for the Mongols, allowing them to gain a foothold in the northern Jin territories and initiating a downfall that would culminate 23 years later in the collapse of the Jin Dynasty. . . Talbot Hook is a PhD student and occasional writer currently living in Connecticut.