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蘇軾 李思訓畫長江絕島圖 translation: Li Sixun Paints Cragged Islands on the Yangtze, by Su Shi


This is a translation and annotation of the poem 李思訓畫長江絕島圖 (Lǐ Sīxun Huà Chángjiāng Jué Dǎo Tú), ‘Li Sixun Paints Cragged Islands on the Yangtze’, by the Song Dynasty Chinese poet 蘇軾 (Sū Shì).

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.

Yangtze River, China - FOE TOE's

 

李思訓畫長江絕島圖
Lǐ Sīxun Huà Chángjiāng Jué Dǎo Tú
[Li] [Si] [Xun] [paint] [long] [river] [break] [island] [picture]
Li Sixun Paints Cragged Islands on the Yangtze

 

山蒼蒼,水茫茫,
Shān cāngcāng, shuǐ mángmáng,
[mountain] [vast and hazy][], [water] [boundless][]
The mountains are vast and hazy, the water boundless;

大孤小孤江中央。
dà gū xiǎo gū jiāng zhōngyāng.
[big] [alone] [little] [alone] [river] [middle] [center]
Great Lone Mountain, Lesser Lone Mountain, the river in between.

崖崩路絕猿鳥去,
Yá bēng lù jué yuán niǎo qù,
[cliff] [collapse] [road] [cut off] [ape] [bird] [go]
The cliff has collapsed, the road is blocked for apes and birds;

惟有喬木攙天長。
wéi yǒu qiáomù chān tiān cháng.
[only] [have] [tall] [tree] [stick out] [sky] [long]
only tall trees stick out into the height of the sky.

客舟何處來,
Kè zhōu hé chù lái,
[traveller] [boat] [what] [place] [come]
From where does the traveller’s boat come –

棹歌中流聲抑揚。
zhào gē zhōngliú shēng yìyáng.
[oar] [song] [middle] [flow] [pitch] [falling] [rising]
a song of rowing in midstream, pitch falling and rising.

沙平風軟望不到,
Shā píng fēng ruǎn wàng bù dào,
[sand] [flat] [wind] [soft] [look] [not] [reach]
The shore is smooth, the wind soft – one looks but does not see

孤山久與船低昂。
gū shān jiǔ yǔ chuán dī áng.
[lone] [mountain] [long time] [and] [boat] [lower] [raise]
the Lone Mountains and the boat falling and rising.

峨峨兩煙鬟,
É’é liǎng yān huán,
[lofty] [lofty] [two] [smoke] [knot of hair]
Towering high in the mist like knotted hair;

曉鏡開新妝。
xiǎo jìng kāi xīn zhuāng.
[dawn] [mirror] [open] [new] [make-up]
at dawn like a mirror for new adornments.

舟中賈客莫漫狂,
Zhōu zhōng gǔ kè mò màn kuáng,
[boat] [in] [merchant] [person] [do not] [free] [wild]
Merchants on the boat – do not be reckless!

小姑前年嫁彭郎。
xiǎogū qiánnián jià Péng láng.
[young] [girl] [before] [year] [married to] [Peng] [mister]
the young girl was years ago married to Master Peng.

 

If you have any suggestions, please share them in the comments at the end of the page.

Sources and further reading