This is a translation and annotation of the poem 醉後草書歌詩戲作 (Zuì Hòu Cǎoshū Gēshī Xìzuò), ‘After Getting Drunk, Playfully Writing a Poem in Grass Script’, by the Song Dynasty Chinese poet 陸游 (Lù Yóu).
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.
Zuì Hòu Cǎoshū Gēshī Xìzuò
[drunk] [after] [grass] [calligraphy] [song] [poem] [play] [write]
After Getting Drunk, Playfully Writing a Poem in Grass Script
Zhū lóu jiǎo shǒu ài bā huāng,
[red] [pavilion] [raise] [head] [narrow] [eight] [desolate]
On a red pavilion one raises one’s head to look far in all directions;
lǜ jiǔ yījǔ lěi bǎi shāng
[green] [wine] [one] [raise] [continuous] [hundred] [goblets]
dark wine – in one raise one drinks a hundred goblets.
xǐ wǒ duī fù zhēng róng zhī xiōng cì
[wash] [my] [pile] [mound] [lofty] [high] [breast] [-]
Wash my heaving chest;
xiě wèi línlí fàngzòng zhī cízhāng
[write] [as] [unrestrained] [untrammelled] [poem] [chapter]
one writes unrestrained verse and untrammelled prose.
Mò fān chū ruò guǐshén nù
[ink] [turn over] [first] [seem] [ghost] [spirit] [angry]
As the ink turns over, at first it seems as if the ghosts and spirits are angry;
zì shòu hū zuò Jiāo Chī jiāng
[character] [thin] [sudden] [write] [Jiao] [Chi] [firm]
the characters are emaciated – suddenly one writes of Jiao and Chi standing firm;
(Jiao and Chi are both dragons.)
bǎodāo chū xiá huī xuě rèn
[jewel] [blade] [exit] [box] [wield] [snow] [blade]
a jewelled blade – take it from its box, and wield it, the blade flashing;
dà gě pòlàng chí fēng qiáng
[big] [ship] [break] [wave] [gallop] [wind] [mast]
a great ship smashes the waves, wind galloping in its sails.
Zhǐ qióng zhì bǐ pīlì xiǎng
[paper] [end] [throw] [brush] [thunder] [echo]
The paper runs out – one throws down the brush as thunder echoes;
fùnǚ jīng zǒu értóng cáng
[wife] [daughter] [frightened] [leave] [son] [boy] [hide]
One’s wife and daughters are frightened and flee; one’s son hides.
Wǎngshí cǎo xí yù xīyù
[former] [time] [grass] [proclaim] [analogy] [western] [regions]
Formerly one wrote in grass script, proclaiming the Western Regions;
sàsà shēng dòng zhōng shū táng
[rustling] [sound] [move] [in] [book] [hall]
the sound of paper rustling in the chancellery.
Yī shōu cháo jī hū shí zài
[one] [collect] [court] [remains] [sudden] [ten] [year]
Gathering up the matters of court – suddenly ten years have passed;
xī lüè Sānbā qióng Yèláng
[west] [plunder] [San] [Ba] [poor] [Ye] [Lang]
in the west, Sanba is plundered and Yelang is impoverished.
Shānchuān huāng jué fēngsú yì
[mountain] [river] [wilderness] [cut off] [wind] [custom] [differ]
The mountains, rivers and wilderness are isolated, the customs become different;
lài yǒu měijiǔ yóu néng kuáng
[rely on] [have] [fine] [wine] [still] [get] [insane]
so long as one has fine wine, one can still get riled up;
zuì zhōng zì tuō tóushàng zé
[drunk] [in] [self] [take off] [head] [on] [cap]
in drunkenness, one takes off the cap on one’s head;
lǜ fà wèi xǔ qīn wēi shuāng
[green] [hair] [not yet] [permit] [invade] [tiny] [frost]
one’s dark hair – one has not yet let the tiniest white frosting encroach on it.
Rénshēng dé sàng liáng xì shì
[human] [life] [get] [loss] [gain] [trifling] [matter]
In human life, you win and you lose – these are small matters;
shú wèi lǎodà duō bēishāng
[who] [says] [old] [great] [more] [sorrowful]
who says the great and the old are unhappy?
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
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