This is a translation of the Chinese poem 迴車駕言邁 (Huí chē jià yán mài), the eleventh poem in the Han dynasty collection 古詩十九首 (Nineteen Old Poems).
迴車駕言邁 huí chē jià yán mài [turn] [carriage] [drive] [say] [take step] I turn the carriage, give the command to go and set off,
悠悠涉長道 yōu yōu shè cháng dào [long] [long] [wade] [long] [road] on and on over the endless road.
四顧何茫茫 sì gù hé máng máng [four] [look] [how] [vast] [vast] I look around - how boundless and vast!
東風搖百草 dōng fēng yáo bǎi cǎo [east] [wind] [shake] [hundred] [herb] The Eastern wind shakes the numerous flora,
所遇無故物 suǒ yù wú gù wù [that which] [meet] [not have] [old] [thing] and of all that I encounter, there is nothing of the past.
焉得不速老 yān dé bù sù lǎo [where] [get] [not] [quick] [old] In what can we escape the rapid onset of old age?
成衰各有時 chéng shuāi gè yǒu shí [fulfil] [decline] [each] [have] [time] Fulfilment and decline each have their time;
立身苦不早 lì shēn kǔ bù zǎo [set up] [life] [bitter] [not] [early] as for success in life, how bitter that it does not come sooner!
人生非金石 rén shēng fēi jīn shí [human] [life] [not] [metal] [stone] Human life is not set in metal or stone -
豈能長壽考 qǐ néng cháng shòu kǎo [how can it be] [can] [long] [longevity] [verify] how can longevity be certain?
奄忽隨物化 yǎn hū suí wù huà [suddenly] [suddenly] [follow] [thing] [change] In swiftly following changing things,
榮名以為寶 róng míng yǐ wéi bǎo [glory] [reputation] [take] [as] [treasure] glory and reputation are the only treasures.
- 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 (this article)
- 東城高且長 translation - The Eastern Wall is High and Long
- 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