This is a translation and annotation of the poem 寓居定惠院之東雜花滿山有海棠一株土人不知貴也 (Yùjū Dìnghuì Yuàn Zhī Dōng Zá Huā Mǎn Shān Yǒu Hǎitáng Yī Zhū Tǔrén Bùzhī Guì Yě), ‘Staying to the East of Dinghui Temple; Mixed Flowers Fill the Mountains, There is a Crab Apple Tree; Locals Do Not Know its Value’, 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.
Yùjū Dìnghuì Yuàn Zhī Dōng Zá Huā Mǎn Shān Yǒu Hǎitáng Yī Zhū Tǔrén Bùzhī Guì Yě
[reside] [live] [Ding] [Hui] [court] [‘s] [east] [mixed] [flower] [full] [mountain] [have] [ocean] [cherry-apple] [one] [trunk] [earth] [person] [not] [know] [noble] [is]
Staying to the East of Dinghui Temple; Mixed Flowers Fill the Mountains, There is a Crab Apple Tree; Locals Do Not Know its Value
Jiāngchéng dì zhàng fān cǎomù,
[river] [city] [land] [miasma] [proliferates] [grass] [tree]
On the land by the river city, a miasma proliferates over grass and trees；
zhǐyǒu míng huā kǔ yōu dú.
[only] [have] [famous] [flower] [suffering] [remote] [alone]
there are only famous flowers, suffering loneliness.
Yānrán yīxiào zhú lí jiān,
[beautiful] [-ly] [one] [smile] [bamboo] [fence] [between]
A charming smile, a fence of bamboo between;
táo lǐ màn shān zǒng cūsú.
[peach] [plum] [inundate] [mountain] [total] [coarse] [vulgar]
peaches and plums cover the mountain – it is entirely vulgar.
Yě zhī zào wù yǒu shēnyì,
[also] [know] [make] [thing] [have] [deep] [meaning]
One also knows that the Creation had a deep meaning –
gù qiǎn jiārén zài kōng gǔ.
[deliberate] [send] [beautiful] [person] [at] [empty] [valley]
deliberately it sent a beautiful woman to be in this empty valley.
Zìrán fùguì chū tiān zī,
[nature] [-ly] [wealth] [nobility] [exit] [heaven] [beauty]
Naturally with wealth and title, she displays heavenly beauty;
bùdài jīn pán jiàn huá wū.
[not] [wait] [gold] [plate] [offer] [magnificent] [house]
one doesn’t wait for a gold plate offering in this splendid house.
Zhūchún dé jiǔ yūn shēng liǎn,
[vermillion] [lip] [get] [alcohol] [dizzy] [raw] [cheeks]
Rouge lips take wine, dizzy with red cheeks;
cuì xiù juǎn shā hóng yìng ròu.
[blue-green] [sleeve] [roll] [gauze] [red] [reflect] [flesh]
blue green sleeves, rolled gauze, skin that reflects red,
Lín shēn wù àn xiǎo guāng chí,
[woods] [deep] [mist] [dark] [dawn] [light] [late]
deep in the woods in mist it is dark, the dawn light is late,
rì nuǎn fēng qīng chūn shuì zú.
[sun] [warm] [wind] [light] [spring] [sleep] [enough]
the sun is warm, the wind light; sleeping in spring is sufficient.
Yǔzhōng yǒu lèi yì qīchuàng,
[rain] [in] [have] [tears] [like] [mournful] [sad]
In the rain, one sobs mournfully;
yuè xià wúrén gèng qīng shū.
[moon] [under] [not have] [person] [more] [clear] [warm]
under the moon there is no-one – it is all the clearer.
Xiānshēng shí bǎo wú yīshì,
[mister] [eat] [full] [not have] [one] [issue]
I eat my fill and have not a single worry,
sànbù xiāoyáo zì mén fù.
[leisurely] [walk] [free and unfettered] [self] [hands on] [belly]
walking free and unfettered, my hands on my belly.
Bùwèn rénjiā yǔ sēng shě,
[not] [ask] [person] [house] [with] [monk] [reside]
Not questioning if it is a private home or a monk’s residence,
zhǔ zhàng qiāo mén kàn xiū zhú.
[lean on] [staff] [knock] [door] [look] [elegant] [bamboo]
leaning on a staff, knocking on the door, looking at elegant bamboo.
Hū féng jué yàn zhào shuāixiǔ,
[suddenly] [encounter] [broken] [beauty] [reflect] [decaying]
Suddenly one encounters a broken beauty, reflecting decline;
tànxí wúyán kāi bìng mù.
[gasp] [not have] [speech] [wipe] [tired] [eye]
one gasps, speechless, wiping tired eyes.
Lòu bāng hé chù dé cǐhuā,
[low] [kingdom] [what] [place] [get] [this] [flower]
In this lowly kingdom, how can one find such a flower –
wú nǎi hàoshì yí xi shǔ.
[not have] [thus] [meddlesome] [shift] [west] [Shu]
surely it would be too meddlesome to move it from Western Shu?
Cùn gēn qiānlǐ bùyì dào,
[inch] [root] [thousand] [li] [not] [easy] [arrive]
An inch of root, a thousand miles – it would not be easy to achieve;
xián zǐ fēi lái dìng hónghú.
[hold in mouth] [seed] [fly] [come] [certain] [swan]
holding in its mouth a seed, it came flying – it was certainly a swan.
Tiānyá liúluò jù kě niàn,
[sky] [edge] [flow] [fall] [all] [can] [think of]
From the edge of the sky, flowing and falling – it can all be imagined;
wèi yǐn yī zūn gē cǐ qū.
[for] [drink] [one] [goblet] [sing] [this] [tune]
drinking one goblet, one sings this song.
Míng cháo jiǔ xǐng huán dú lái,
[bright] [morning] [wine] [awake] [return] [alone] [come]
In the bright morning one awakes from drunkenness and returns alone;
xuě luò fēnfēn nǎ rěn chù.
[snow] [fall] [continuously] [how] [endure] [contact]
snow falls continuously – how can one endure its touch?
If you have any suggestions, please share them in the comments below.
Sources and further reading
- 寓居定惠院之东杂花满山有海棠一株土人不知贵也 – 百度百科
- An Anthology of Chinese Literature: Beginnings to 1911 – Stephen Owen
- Drifting Among Rivers and Lakes: Southern Song Dynasty Poetry