This is a translation of the Chinese poem 東城高且長 (Dōng chéng gāo qiě cháng), the eleventh poem in the Han dynasty collection 古詩十九首 (Nineteen Old Poems).
東城高且長 dōng chéng gāo qiě zhǎng [east] [wall] [high] [and] [long] The Eastern wall is high and long,
逶迤自相屬 wēiyǐ zì xiāng zhǔ [curving] [winder] [self] [mutually] [join] snaking, winding, rejoining itself.
迴風動地起 huí fēng dòng dì qǐ [turn] [wind] [move] [earth] [rise] The turning wind shakes the earth and rises,
秋草萋已綠 qiū cǎo qī yǐ lǜ [autumn] [grass] [luxuriant] [already] [green] as the fragrant Autumn grasses lose their colour.
四時更變化 sì shí gèng biàn huà [four] [season] [still] [change] [change] The four seasons change endlessly -
歲暮一何速 suì mù yī hé sù [year] [sunset] [one] [how] [fast] how quickly the year ends!
晨風懷苦心 chén fēng huái kǔxīn [morning] [wind] [bosom] [bitter] [heart] The falcon harbours a bitter heart,
蟋蟀傷局促 xīshuài shāng jú cù [cricket] [cricket] [hurt] [narrow] [close] and the crickets suffer from being cramped.
蕩滌放情志 dàng dí fàng qíng zhì [clean] [cleanse] [release] [emotion] [will] Cleanse yourself, set your emotions free -
何為自結束 hé wèi zì jié shù [what] [for] [self] [knot] [bind] why restrain yourself and hold back?
燕趙多佳人 yàn zhào duō jiā rén [_Yan_] [_Zhao_] [many] [excellent] [person] There are many exquisite women in Yan and Zhao,
美者顏如玉 měi zhě yán rú yù [beautiful] [one who] [countenance] [like] [jade] the beautiful ones with countenance like jade.
被服羅裳衣 bèi fú luó shang yī [cover] [garment] [gauze] [garment] [clothes] The clothing that covers her is fine latticed silk,
當戶理清曲 dāng hù lǐ qīng qū [as] [house] [put in order] [clear] [tune] as she stands in the house composing a clear melody.
音響一何悲 yīn xiǎng yī hé bēi [sound] [noise] [one] [how] [sorrow] How mournful is the sound -
絲急知柱促 sī jí zhī zhù cù [thread] [tense] [know] [pillar] [urge] the strings are tense, the bridge is pressured.
馳情整中帶 chí qíng zhěng zhōng dài [speed] [emotion] [order] [middle] [belt] A rush of emotion, she adjusts her composure,
沉吟聊躑躅 chén yín liáo zhí zhú [deep] [hum] [chat] [hesitate] [falter] deep in thought, humming hesitantly.
思為雙飛燕 cī wèi shuāng fēi yàn [think] [as] [pair] [fly] [swallow] In thought we are a pair of flying swallows -
銜泥巢君屋 xián ní cháo jūn wū [hold] [mud] [nest] [you] [house] let’s take mud and build a nest under your roof.
- Chinese Lyricism (Burton Watson) – has a lot of quality translations and analysis.
- Popular Songs and Ballads of Han China (Anne Birrell) – more general insight into verse from this period.
Series: Nineteen Old Poems
- 行行重行行 Translation - Marching On and On
- 青青河畔草 Translation - Green, Green, Grass on the Riverbank
- 青青陵上柏 translation - Green, Green, Cypress on the Mound
- 今日良宴會 translation – Today we hold a splendid feast
- 西北有高樓 translation - A Tall Tower in the Northwest
- 涉江采芙蓉 translation - Crossing the River to Pick Hibiscus
- 明月皎夜光 translation - The Clear Moon Shines Brightly by Night
- 冉冉孤生竹 translation - Frail Bamboo Growing Alone
- 庭中有奇樹 translation - In the Courtyard there is a Strange Tree
- 迢迢牽牛星 translation - So Remote, the Draught Ox Star
- 迴車駕言邁 translation - I turn the carriage, pull the reins and set off
- 東城高且長 translation - The Eastern Wall is High and Long (this article)
- 驅車上東門 translation - I Ride My Chariot from the Upper East Gate
- 去者日以疏 translation - The Departed Are More Distant Daily
- 生年不滿百 translation - The Years of Life Reach Not One Hundred
- 凜凜歲云暮 translation - Bitterly Cold, the Year Ends
- 孟冬寒氣至 translation - In the First Month of Winter, Cold Air Arrives