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.
Lǐ Sīxun Huà Chángjiāng Jué Dǎo Tú
[Li] [Si] [Xun] [paint] [long] [river] [break] [island] [picture]
Li Sixun Paints Cragged Islands on the Yangtze
Shān cāngcāng, shuǐ mángmáng,
[mountain] [vast and hazy], [water] [boundless]
The mountains are vast and hazy, the water boundless;
dà gū xiǎo gū jiāng zhōngyāng.
[big] [alone] [little] [alone] [river] [middle] [center]
Great Lone Mountain, Lesser Lone Mountain, the river in between.
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;
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.
Kè zhōu hé chù lái,
[traveller] [boat] [what] [place] [come]
From where does the traveller’s boat come -
zhào gē zhōngliú shēng yìyáng.
[oar] [song] [middle] [flow] [pitch] [falling] [rising]
a song of rowing in midstream, pitch falling and rising.
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
gū shān jiǔ yǔ chuán dī áng.
[lone] [mountain] [long time] [and] [boat] [lower] [raise]
the Lone Mountains and the boat falling and rising.
É’é liǎng yān huán,
[lofty] [lofty] [two] [smoke] [knot of hair]
Towering high in the mist like knotted hair;
xiǎo jìng kāi xīn zhuāng.
[dawn] [mirror] [open] [new] [make-up]
at dawn like a mirror for new adornments.
Zhōu zhōng gǔ kè mò màn kuáng,
[boat] [in] [merchant] [person] [do not] [free] [wild]
Merchants on the boat – do not be reckless!
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
- 李思训画长江绝岛图 – 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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