This is an annotation of the poem 高陽臺 (Gāo Yángtái), ‘High Terrace’, by the Song Dynasty Chinese poet 韓疁 (Hán Liú). The poem is #156 in the collection 300 Song Poems.
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.
[high] [sun] [platform]
Pín tīng yín qiān,
[frequent] [hear] [silver] [stick]
One frequently hears the silver striker -
This is a time piece chiming the hour.
chóng rán jiàng là,
[again] [light] [purple-red] [wax]
once again one lights a crimson wax candle;
niánhuá gǔn gǔn jīng xīn.
[years] [roll] [roll] [frighten] [heart]
the years have flown by, it startles one’s heart.
Jiàn jiù yíngxīn,
[farewell] [old] [welcome] [new]
One sees off the old, welcomes the new -
néng xiāo jǐ kè guāngyīn?
[can] [eliminate] [how many] [quarter hour] [time]
how many hours can that brush away?
Lǎo lái kě guàn tōngxiāo yǐn?
[old] [come] [can] [accustomed] [through] [night] [drink]
As old age comes, why does one get used to drinking through the night?
Dài bùmián, hái pà hán qīn.
[wait] [not] [sleep], [still] [fear] [cold] [approach]
One waits but does not sleep, still afraid of cold’s approach.
Yǎn qīng zūn, duōxiè méihuā,
[cover] [clear] [cup], [many] [wither] [plum] [flower]
One covers one’s clear cup; many withered plum blossoms float by,
bàn wǒ wēi yín.
[companion] [my] [tiny] [hum]
accompanying my quiet humming.
Lín wá yǐ shì chūn zhuāngle,
[close] [doll] [already] [try] [spring] [adorn] [-]
Close by, young women are already trying to adorn themselves for spring,
gèng fēngyāo cù cuì,
[change] [beads] [bunch] [blue-green]
their hair bunched up with jade-green beads
(蜂腰 is a binome referring to beads in long hair.)
yàn gǔ héng jīn.
[swallow] [tail] [horizontal] [gold]
and golden pins shaped like swallows’ tails.
[attract] [lead] [east] [wind]
Attracting the eastern winds,
yě zhī fāng sī nán jìn.
[also] [know] [fragrant] [thought] [hard] [prohibit]
also knowing that instinctive thoughts are hard to suppress.
zhū yán nà yǒu nián nián hǎo,
[vermillion] [face] [that] [has] [year] [year] [good]
A rosy face that is good year after year -
chěng yàn yóu, yíng qǔ rújīn.
[show off] [colourful] [roam], [win] [gain] [as] [today]
show off one’s splendour freely, seize the day!
Zì dēnglín, cánxuě lóutái,
[abandon restraint] [climb] [overlook], [remain] [snow] [tower] [platform]
Do as one pleases, climb to a view, through melting snow, from a tower,
chí rì yuánlín.
[slow] [sun] [garden] [forest]
to see the gardens below the slow sun.
Sources and further reading
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