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李白 鳴皋歌送岑徵君 translation: A Song of Mt Ming'gao to See Off Cen Zheng, by Li Bai

This is a translation and annotation of the poem 鳴皋歌送岑徵君 (‘A Song of Mt Ming’gao to See Off Cen Zheng’) by the Chinese poet 李白 (Li Bai).

Frozen river

鳴皋歌送岑徵君 Míng Gāo Gē Sòng Cén Zhēng Jūn [bird call] [river bank] [song] [see off] [Cen] [Zheng] [sir] A Song of Mt Ming'gao to See Off Cen Zheng

若有人兮思鳴皋, Ruò yǒurén xī sī Míng Gāo, [if] [have] [person] [oh] [think of] [Ming] [Gao] If there is someone who longs for Mt Ming'gao -

阻積雪兮心煩勞。 zǔ jīxuě xī xīn fánláo. [obstruct] [accumulate] [snow] [oh] [heart] [bother] [toil] it is cut off by snow - your heart will be vexed.

洪河凌兢不可以徑度, Hóng hé líng jīng bù kěyǐ jìng dù, [great] [river] [ice] [fear] [not] [can] [take] [path] [pass] The Great River is frozen - one fears it's impossible to pass;

冰龍鱗兮難容舠。 bīng lóng lín xī nán róng dāo. [ice] [dragon] [scales] [oh] [difficult] [contain] [kayak] the ice like dragon scales - it's impossible to take a kayak.

邈仙山之峻極兮, Miǎo xiānshān zhī jùn jí xī, [remote] [immortal] [mountain] ['s] [high] [extreme] [oh] The distant Mountain of Immortals, it's height extreme -

聞天籟之嘈嘈。 wén tiānlài zhī cáo cáo. [hear] [Heaven] [music] ['s] [noise] [noise] there one can hear the clamour of Heaven's music.

霜崖縞皓以合沓兮, Shuāng yá gǎo hào yǐ hé dá xī, [frost] [cliff] [white silk] [bright] [take] [join] [layers] [oh] The frost on the cliffs like white silk, bright in piled up layers;

若長風扇海湧滄溟之波濤。 ruò cháng fēngshàn hǎi yǒng cāng míng zhī bōtāo. [as if] [long] [wind] [fan] [ocean] [rush forth] [blue-green] [sea] ['s] [wave] [great wave] as if fanned by great winds, the seas rush forth in blue-green ocean waves.

玄猿綠羆, Xuán yuán lǜ pí, [black] [ape] [green] [bear] Black apes and green bears

舔舕崟岌; tiǎn tàn yín jí; [lick] [stick out tongue] [high] [lofty peak] stick out their tongues on towering peaks;

危柯振石, Wēi kē zhèn shí, [high] [stem] [shake] [stone] on high branches and shaking stones,

駭膽栗魄, hài dǎn lì pò, [startle] [gall-bladder] [tremble] [soul] startling their nerves and shaking their souls -

群呼而相號。 qún hū ér xiāng hào. [pack] [call] [and] [together] [cry] the pack calls and cries out.

峰崢嶸以路絕, Fēng zhēng róng yǐ lù jué, [summit] [lofty] [lofty] [take] [road] [cut off] The summit is lofty and towering - it seems there is no way past;

掛星辰於崖嶅! guà xīngchén yú yá áo! [hang] [stars][] [at] [cliff] [stones] the suspended stars like stones at the cliff's edge!

送君之歸兮, Sòng jūn zhī guī xī, [see off] [sir] ['s] [return] [oh] Seeing you off on your way back,

動鳴皋之新作。 dòng míng gāo zhī xīn zuò. [move] [Ming] [Gao] ['s] [new] [writing] makes me write this piece of Mt Ming'gao.

交鼓吹兮彈絲, Jiāo gǔchuī xī dàn sī, [hand over] [drum] [blow] [oh] [pluck] [thread] with drums, flutes and strings,

觴清泠之池閣。 shāng qīng líng zhī chí gé. [feast] [clear] [flowing water] ['s] [pool] [pavilion] we'll feast at the Clear Flowing Pool pavilion.

君不行兮何待? Jūn bùxíng xī hé dài? [sir] [not] [travel] [oh] [what] [wait] Do you not go - what are you waiting for?

若返顧之黃鶴。 Ruò fǎn gù zhī huáng hè. [like] [return] [consider] ['s] [yellow] [crane] You are like the yellow crane that considers returning.

掃梁園之群英, Sǎo liáng yuán zhī qún yīng, [sweep] [Liang] [Yuan] ['s] [group] [hero] You disdain the group of men at Liangyuan;

振大雅於東洛。 zhèn dàyǎ yú dōng Luò. [shake] [Da] [Ya] [at] [east] [Luoyang] you shake the Daya in eastern Luoyang.

巾徵軒兮歷阻折, Jīn zhēng xuān xī lì zǔ zhé, [cloth] [journey] [carriage] [oh] [experience] [block] [break] Your curtained carriage encounters obstruction;

尋幽居兮越巘崿。 xún yōu jū xī yuè yǎn è. [seek] [remote] [reside] [oh] [climb over] [peak] [cliff] seeking a remote residence, crossing peaks and cliffs.

盤白石兮坐素月, Pán báishí xī zuò sù yuè, [plate] [white] [stone] [oh] [sit] [white] [moon] On a white rock, oh, sitting below the pure moon;

琴松風兮寂萬壑。 qín sōngfēng xī jì wàn hè. [zither] [pine] [wind] [oh] [silent] [ten thousand] [gully] the sound of a zither amongst pines in the wind, oh, in the silence of a myriad valleys.

望不見兮心氛氳, Wàng bùjiàn xī xīn fēn yūn, [look] [not] [see] [oh] [heart] [vapour] [faint] One looks but does not see, oh, one's heart is faint,

蘿冥冥兮霰紛紛。 luó míng míng xī sǎn fēnfēn. [lichen] [dark] [dark] [oh] [ like pine lichen, so hazy, oh, sleet falls endlessly.

水橫洞以下淥, Shuǐ héng dòng yǐxià lù, [water] [across] [cave] [take] [below] [filter] Waters flows across caves, filtering down,

波小聲而上聞。 bō xiǎo shēng ér shàng wén. [wave] [small] [sound] [and] [rise] [hear] the sound of waves rises up to be heard.

虎嘯谷而生風, Hǔ xiào gǔ ér shēng fēng, [tiger] [roar] [valley] [and] [create] [wind] A tiger roars in the valley and creates a gale;

龍藏溪而吐雲。 lóng cáng xī ér tǔ yún. [dragon] [hide] [creek] [and] [spit] [cloud] a dragon hides in a brook, spitting clouds.

冥鶴清唳, Míng hè qīng lì, [dark] [crane] [pure] [cry] A dark crane, it calls purely;

飢鼯嚬呻。 jī wú pín shēn. [hungry] [squirrel] [knit brows] [call] a hungry squirrel strains and cries.

塊獨處此幽默兮, Kuài dúchǔ cǐ yōumò xī, [piece] [alone] [reside] [this] [remote] [silent] [oh] Living alone in this remote place,

愀空山而愁人。 qiǎo kōngshān ér chóu rén. [worry] [empty] [mountain] [and] [worry] [person] the empty mountains make one worry.

雞聚族以爭食, Jī jù zú yǐ zhēng shí, [fowl] [gather] [group] [take] [compete] [eat] Birds gather in groups to compete for food;

鳳孤飛而無鄰。 fèng gū fēi ér wú lín. [phoenix] [alone] [fly] [and] [not have] [neighbour] the phoenix flies alone, without neighbour.

蝘蜓嘲龍, Yǎn tíng cháo lóng, [salamander] [dragonfly] [mock] [dragon] Salamanders and dragonflies mock the dragon;

魚目混珍; yú mù hùn zhēn; [fish] [eye] [mix] [treasure] fishes' eyes are mistaken for pearls.

嫫母衣錦, Mó mǔyī jǐn, [ugly woman] [mother] [clothes] [embroidery] An ugly woman embroiders clothes,

西施負薪。 Xī Shī fù xīn. [Xi] [Shi] [bear] [firewood] Xi Shi carries firewood.

若使巢由桎梏於軒冕兮, Ruò shǐ cháo yóu zhìgù yú xuān miǎn xī, [as if] [make] [nest] [because of] [shackle] [manacle] [at] [chariot] [crown] [oh] If one is caused by one's family to be shackled to imperial life, oh -

亦奚異於夔龍蹩於風塵! yì xī yì yú Kuí Lóng bié yú fēngchén! [also] [what] [different] [to] [Kui] [Long] [limp] [to] [wind] [dust] what difference is there to Lords Kui and Long limping in wind and dust!

哭何苦而救楚, Kū hékǔ ér jiù Chǔ, [weep] [what] [bitter] [and] [save] [Chu] Weeping for what bitterness does one seek the rescue of Chu?

笑何誇而卻秦? xiào hé kuā ér què Qín? [laugh] [what] [boast] [and] [retreat] [Qin] - laughing at what boast does one withdraw the Qin troops?

吾誠不能學二子沽名矯節以耀世兮, Wú chéng bùnéng xué èr zi gūmíng jiǎo jié yǐ yào shì xī, [I] [honest] [not] [can] [study] [two] [-] [sell] [famous] [feign] [virtue] [take] [glory] [world] [oh] I could never honestly learn to feign wealth, fame or virtue for worldly glory;

固將棄天地而遺身! gù jiāng qì tiāndì ér yí shēn! [undoubtedly] [will] [abandon] [Heaven] [Earth] [and] [bequeath] [body] undoubtedly I will abandon Heaven and Earth and bequeath my body!

白鷗兮飛來, Bái ōu xī fēi lái, [white] [gull] [oh] [fly] [arrive] A white gull, oh, it flies here;

長與君兮相親。 cháng yǔ jūn xī xiāngqīn. [forever] [with] [sir] [oh] [each other] [intimate] forever with you, oh, close to each other.

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