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杜甫 古柏行 translation: Ballad of the Old Cypress, by Du Fu

This is a very rough annotation / translation of the poem 古柏行 (Gǔ Bǎi Xíng), ‘Ballad of the Old Cypress’, by the Tang Dynasty Chinese poet 杜甫 (Dù Fǔ).

If you have any suggestions, please share them in the comments at the end of the page.

Deer Horn Cypress - Ming Tombs

古柏行 Gǔ Bǎi Xíng [old] [cypress] [ballad] Ballad of the Old Cypress

孔明廟前有老柏, Kǒngmíng miào qián yǒu lǎo bǎi, [Kong] [Ming] [temple] [front] [have] [old] [cypress] In front of Zhuge Liang's temple there is an old cypress;

柯如青銅根如石。 kē rú qīngtóng gēn rú shí. [stem] [like] [dark] [copper] [root] [like] [stone] Its trunk is like bronze, it's roots are like stone.

霜皮溜雨四十圍, Shuāng pí liū yǔ sìshí wéi, [frost] [skin] [slip away] [rain] [four] [ten] [encircle] Its frost-white bark has been worn away by rain; forty people could encircle it;

黛色參天二千尺。 dài sè cāntiān èrqiān chǐ. [black dye] [colour] [join] [sky] [two] [thousand] [foot] jet black in colour it rises into the sky two thousand feet.

君臣已與時際會, Jūnchén yǐ yǔ shí jìhuì, [lord] [minister] [already] [together] [timely] [meet][] Lord and minister held a timely meeting together; (This refers to Liu Bang and Zhuge Liang.)

樹木猶為人愛惜。 shùmù yóu wéi rén àixī. [tree] [wood] [still] [by] [people] [love] [cherish] the tree is still cherished by the people.

雲來氣接巫峽長, Yún lái qì jiē wū xiá cháng, [cloud] [come] [vapour] [link] [Wu] [gorge] [long] Clouds come and the vapour links the length of Wu Gorge;

月出寒通雪山白。 yuè chū hán tōng xuěshān bái. [moon] [come out] [cold] [through] [snow] [mountain] [white] the moon comes out, and the cold penetrates the whiteness of the snowy mountains.

憶昨路繞錦亭東, Yì zuó lù rào Jǐn tíng dōng, [recollect] [yesterday] [road] [coil] [Jin] [pavilion] [east] One remembers that formerly the road wound round the pavilion east of the Jin River;

先主武侯同閟宮。 xiān zhǔ wǔ hóu tóng bì gōng. [former] [master] [military] [official] [together] [hide] [palace] the former lord and military official shared the remote shrine.

崔嵬枝幹郊原古, Cuīwéi zhī gàn jiāo yuán gǔ, [high mountain] [rocky] [branch] [trunk] [region] [open country] [ancient] The lofty trunk and branches have towered over this countryside since antiquity;

窈窕丹青戶牖空。 yǎotiǎo dānqīng hùyǒu kōng. [quiet] [secluded] [red] [green] [door] [window] [empty] hidden paintings within the doors of the shrine.

落落盤踞雖得地, Luòluò pánjù suī de de, [fall] [fall] [entrenched][] [although] [get] [earth] Although isolated, it is entrenched in the earth;

冥冥孤高多烈風。 míng míng gūgāo duō lièfēng. [high space][] [lone] [high] [much] [intense] [wind] Reaching into the sky, high and alone, there is intense wind.

扶持自是神明力, Fúchí zì shì shénmíng lì, [support] [hold] [from] [this] [spirit][] [power] It is supported by the power of the spirit;

正直原因造化功。 zhèngzhí yuányīn zàohuà gōng. [upright] [straight] [origin] [cause] [Nature][] [work] its uprightness originates in the work of Nature.

大廈如傾要梁棟, Dàshà rú qīng yào liáng dòng, [big] [tall building] [like] [overturn] [want] [beam] [pole] A great building, if it leans, needs beams and poles;

萬牛回首丘山重。 wàn niú huíshǒu qiūshān chóng. [ten thousand] [ox] [return] [head] [hill] [mountain] [heavy] Ten thousand oxen turn their heads; it is as heavy as a mountain.

不露文章世已驚, Bù lù wénzhāng shì yǐ jīng, [not] [reveal] [writing] [prose] [world] [already] [shock] It does not reveal its hidden meaning, yet the world is already stunned;

未辭翦伐誰能送。 wèi cí jiǎn fá shéi néng sòng. [not] [yet] [decline] [cut] [cut down] [who] [can] [deliver] It does not reject being felled, but who could move it?

苦心豈免容螻蟻, Kǔxīn qǐ miǎn róng lóuyǐ, [bitter] [heart] [how can] [avoid] [endure] [cricket] [ant] How can the bitter heart of the tree avoid enduring crickets and ants;

香葉終經宿鸞鳳。 xiāng yè zhōng jīng sù luánfèng. [fragrant] [leaf] [end] [undergo] [reside] [phoenix][] its fragrant leaves are in the end home to phoenixes.

志士仁人莫怨嗟, Zhìshì rén rén mò yuànjiē, [aspiration] [man] [benevolent] [man] [do not] [complain] [sigh] Gentlemen aspiring to benevolence - do not complain or lament;

古來材大難為用。 gǔ lái cái dà nán wèi yòng. [ancient] [come] [talent] [big] [difficult] [as] [use] since ancient times, talent has been hard to use.

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