This is a translation and annotation of the poem 臘日遊孤山訪惠勤惠思二僧 (Là Rì Yóu Gū Shān Fǎng Huì Qín Huì Sī Èr Sēng), ‘On the Winter Festival I Visited Lone Mountain and the Two Monks Hui Jin and Hui Si’, by the Song Dynasty Chinese poet 蘇軾 (Sū Shì). Su Shi wrote the poem in 1071 CE.
As always, this is only my beginner’s attempt at an annotation. If you have any suggestions, please share them in the comments at the end of the page.
Là Rì Yóu Gū Shān Fǎng Huì Qín Huì Sī Èr Sēng
[December] [day] [travel] [lone] [mountain] [visit] [Hui] [Jin] [Hui] [Si] [two] [monk]
Tiān yù xuě, yún mǎn hú,
[sky] [want] [snow], [cloud] [full] [lake]
The sky looks like snow, clouds fill the lake,
lóutái míngmiè shān yǒuwú.
[tower] [terrace] [bright] [extinguish] [mountain] [have] [not have]
towers are clear then invisible, mountains there then not there.
Shuǐ qīng chūshí yú kě shǔ,
[water] [clear] [out] [stone] [fish] [can] [count]
Water so clear that stones are revealed and one can count the fish;
lín shēn wúrén niǎo xiāng hū.
[forest] [deep] [not have] [person] [bird] [each other] [call]
deep in the forest there is no-one; birds call to each other.
Là rì bù guī duì qī nú,
[December] [day] [not] [return] [to] [wife] [child]
This winter festival one does not return to one’s wife and children;
míng xún dàoren shí zì yú.
[famous] [seek] [Dao] [people] [truly] [from] [amuse]
one seeks these famous Daoists, really for entertainment.
Dàoren zhī jū zài héxǔ?
[Dao] [person] ['s] [residence] [at] [what] [place]
Where is the Daoists’ residence?
Bǎoyún shān qián lùpán yū.
[jewel] [cloud] [mountain] [front] [road] [coil] [twisting]
In front of Jewel Cloud Mountain, on a winding, twisting road.
Gū shān gū jué shéi kěn lú?
[lone] [mountain] [lone] [absolutely] [who] [agree] [hut]
Lone Mountain, absolutely alone – who is willing to reside there?
Dàoren yǒu dào shān bù gū.
[Dao] [person] [has] [Dao] [mountain] [not] [lone]
The Daoists have the Dao – the mountain is not lonely.
Zhǐ chuāng zhú wū shēn zì nuǎn,
[paper] [window] [bamboo] [roof] [deep] [self] [warm]
Paper windows and a bamboo roof – deep within it is warm;
yōng hè zuò shuì yī tuán pú.
[embrace] [cloth] [sit] [sleep] [lean] [round] [bullrush]
Wrapped in cloths, they sit and sleep on round bullrushes. [?]
Tiān hán lù yuǎn chóu pú fu,
[sky] [cold] [road] [far] [worry] [servant] [man]
The sky is cold and the road long, worrying my servant;
zhěng jià cuī guī jí wèi bū.
[in order] [carriage] [rush] [return] [in time for] [not yet] [late afternoon]
the carriage is ready, one rushes back before late afternoon.
Chūshān huí wàng yún mù hé,
[leave] [mountain] [return] [look towards] [cloud] [tree] [whole]
Leaving the mountains, one looks behind – all is clouds and trees,
dàn jiàn yě gú pán fútú.
[but] [see] [wild] [hawk] [circle] [Buddhist stupa]
but one sees a wild hawk circling the stupa.
Zī yóu dànbó huan yǒuyú,
[this] [travel] [mild] [thin] [joyous] [have] [remaining]
This trip was bland, there is joy remaining; [?]
Dàojiā huǎng rú mèng qú qú.
[arrive] [home] [as if] [dream] [contented]
arriving home, one is content as if in a dream.
Zuòshī huǒjí zhuī wáng bū,
[write] [poem] [fire] [urgent] [chase] [perish] [flee]
One writes this poem with the urgency of fire, chasing what is slipping away;
qīng jǐng yī shī hòu nán mó.
[clear] [scenery] [as soon as] [lost] [after] [hard] [imitate]
that clear scenery, once lost, is hard to express.
Sources and further reading
- An Anthology of Chinese Literature: Beginnings to 1911 – Stephen Owen
- Drifting Among Rivers and Lakes: Southern Song Dynasty Poetry