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李白 蜀道難 translation: The Difficulty of the Shu Road, by Li Bai

This is a translation and annotation of the poem 《蜀道難》 by the Chinese poet 李白 (Lǐ Bái). Please point out any issues in the comments at the end of the page.

蜀道難 Shǔdào Nán [Zeng] [Wang] [Lun] The Difficulty of the Shu Road

噫吁戲, Yī xū xì, [ooh] [ahh] [wooh] Ooh ah etc.

危乎高哉! wēi hu gāo zāi! [danger] [!] [high] [!] So dangerous, so high! Alternative translation here.

蜀道之難, Shǔ dào zhī nán, [Shu] [road] ['s] [difficulty] The difficulty of the Shu Road,

難於上青天! nányú shàng qīngtiān! [difficult] [as] [go up] [blue] [sky] as difficult as climbing to the blue sky!

蠶叢及魚鳧, Cán Cóng jí yú fú, [Can] [Cong] [and] [Yu] [Fu] Can Cong and Yu Fu; 蠶叢 and 魚鳧 are both ancient monarchs of Shu.

開國何茫然。 kāiguó hé mángrán. [start] [state] [how] [vast] [ly] their founding of a state - how hazily distant!

爾來四萬八千歲, Ěr lái sì wàn bāqiān suì, [thus] [arrive] [four] [ten thousand] [eight] [thousand] [year] Up to today it has been forty-eight thousand years,

不與秦塞通人煙。 bù yǔ Qín sài tōng rén yān. [not] [with] [Qin] [pass] [connect] [people] [smoke] yet on this path to Qin there has not been sign of people.

西當太白有鳥道, Xi dāng Tàibái yǒu niǎo dào, [west] [at] [Tai] [Bai] [have] [bird] [way] To the west, on Mt Taibai, is a way only for birds,

可以橫絕峨眉巔。 kěyǐ héng jué éméi diān. [can] [take] [across] [cut] [E] [Mei] [summit] that crosses to the summit of Mt. E'Mei.

地崩山摧壯士死, Dì bēng shān cuī zhuàngshì sǐ, [ground] [collapse] [mountain] [destroy] [strong] [warrior] [die] The ground collapsed and the mountain crumbled - warrior heroes died, This is a reference to a story about mountain formation.

然後天梯石棧相鉤連。 ránhòu tiāntī shí zhàn xiāng gōu lián. [thus] [after] [sky] [stairs] [stone] [plank road] [mutually] [hook] [link] and only then was this road in the sky linked with a plank road.

上有六龍回日之高標, Shàng yǒu liù lóng huí rì zhī gāo biāo, [above] [have] [six] [dragon] [return] [sun] ['s] [high] [mark] Above, where the Six Dragons returned to the sun, is a height marker; These are the six dragons who drive the sun around like a chariot in Chinese mythology.

下有衝波逆折之回川。 xià yǒu chōng bō nì zhé zhī huí chuān. [below] [have] [surge] [wave] [go against] [break] ['s] [return] [river] below are surging torrents twisting and breaking back in spirals.

黃鶴之飛尚不得過, Huánghè zhī fēi shàng bùdéguò, [yellow] [crane] ['s] [fly] [yet] [not] [get] [across] Even the flight of a yellow crane cannot cross here;

猿猱欲度愁攀援。 yuán náo yù dù chóu pānyuán. [ape] [monkey] [want] [cross] [worry] [climb] [pull up] monkeys want to cross but fear the climb.

青泥何盤盤, Qīngní hé pán pán, [Qing] [Ni] [how] [twist] [twist] Mt. Qingni - how it twists and turns,

百步九折縈巖巒。 bǎi bù jiǔ zhé yíng yán luán. [hundred] [step] [nine] [break] [wind around] [cliff] [mountains] in a hundred steps it bends nine times to wind around the peak.

捫參歷井仰脅息, Mén Cān lì Jǐng yǎng xié xi, [hands on] [Three Stars] [pass through] [Well] [look up] [fear] [breathe] One can touch the Three Stars and pass through the Well; looking up, one is afraid to breathe; 參 and 井 are both names of constellations.

以手撫膺坐長嘆。 yǐ shǒu fǔ yīng zuò chángtàn. [with] [hand] [touch] [chest] [sit] [long] [sigh] one puts a hand on one's chest, sits and sighs deeply.

問君西遊何時還, Wèn jūn xīyóu héshí huán, [ask] [you] [west] [travel] [what] [time] [return] I ask you when you will return from your travels to the west;

畏途躔岩不可攀。 wèi tú chán yán bùkě pān. [fear] [way] [stars] [cliff] [not] [can] [climb] One fears the high cliffs cannot be climbed.

但見悲鳥號古木, Dàn jiàn bēi niǎo háo gǔmù, [only] [hear] [sorrow] [cry] [ancient] [tree] One only hears the sorrowful cry of birds in ancient trees,

雄飛雌從繞林間。 xióng fēi cí cóng rào lín jiàn. [male] [fly] [female] [follow] [around] [forest] [between] the males flying and females following around within the forest.

又聞子規啼, Yòu wén zǐguī tí, [also] [hear] [cuckoo][] [cry] One also hears the call of a cuckoo, Chinese people have long thought that the call of a cuckoo sounds like the words “不如歸去!” - “you should go back!”

夜月愁空山。 yè yuè chóu kōngshān. [night] [moon] [fear] [empty] [mountain] and under the night moon fears the empty mountains.

蜀道之難, Shǔ dào zhī nán, [Shu] [road] ['s] [difficulty] The difficulty of the Shu Road,

難於上青天! nányú shàng qīngtiān! [difficult] [as] [go up] [blue] [sky] as difficult as climbing to the blue sky!

使人聽此凋朱顏。 Shǐ rén tīng cǐ diāo zhū yán. [make] [person] [hear] [this] [wither] [red] [countenance] Make a person hear this and the colour drains from their face.

連峰去天不盈尺, Liánfēng qù tiān bù yíng chǐ, [link] [peak] [leave] [sky] [not] [more than] [foot] A chain of peaks less than a foot away from Heaven;

枯松倒掛倚絕壁。 Kū sōng dàoguà yǐ juébì. [dried up] [pine] [inverted] [hang] [lean on] [absolute] [wall] withered pine trees hang inverted on the precipice.

飛湍瀑流爭喧豗, Fēi tuān pù liú zhēng xuān huī, [fly] [torrent] [waterfall] [flow] [what] [clamour] [clash] Rushing torrents and waterfalls clash and clamour,

砯崖轉石萬壑雷。 pīng yá zhuǎn shí wàn hè léi. [splash] [cliff] [shift] [stone] [ten thousand] [gully] [thunder] powering into cliffs and shifting ten thousand stones into gullies like thunder.

其險也如此, Qí xiǎn yě rúcǐ, [its] [danger] [also] [like] [this] Such is its danger;

嗟爾遠道之人胡為乎哉! jiē ěr yuǎndào zhī rén hú wèi hu zāi! [sigh] [you] [far] [road] ['s] [people] [why] [for] [why] [!] ah, people from this distant road, why is it so?

劍閣崢嶸而崔嵬, Jiàn gé zhēng róng ér cuīwéi, [sword] [shelf] [lofty] [lofty] [and] [towering] [rocky] A path between swords, high, lofty, towering and rocky;

一夫當關, yī fū dāng guān, [one] [man] [act as] [concern] just one man guards it,

萬夫莫開。 wàn fū mò kāi. [ten thousand] [man] [none who] [open] yet of ten thousand men not one can get past.

所守或匪親, Suǒ shǒu huò fěi qīn, [that which] [guard] [might] [not] [close] If the guard is not trustworthy,

化為狼與豺。 huà wéi láng yǔ chái. [change] [be] [wolf] [and] [jackal] then he will cause disaster.

朝避猛虎, Zhāo bì měnghǔ, [morning] [flee] [fierce] [tiger] In the morning one flees a fierce tiger;

夕避長蛇, xī bì chángshé, [evening] [flee] [long] [snake] in the evening one flees a long snake;

磨牙吮血, móyá shǔn xuè, [grind] [teeth] [suck] [blood] they grind their teeth and suck one's blood,

殺人如麻。 shārén rú má. [kill] [person] [like] [flax] killing people like [scything] flax.

錦城雖云樂, Jǐnchéng suī yún lè, [Jin] [city] [although] [say] [happy] Although they say Jin City is joyous,

不如早還家。 bùrú zǎo huán jiā. [not] [like] [early] [return] [home] it is better to go home sooner.

蜀道之難, Shǔ dào zhī nán, [Shu] [road] ['s] [difficulty] The difficulty of the Shu Road,

難於上青天! nányú shàng qīngtiān! [difficult] [as] [go up] [blue] [sky] as difficult as climbing to the blue sky!

側身西望長咨嗟。 Cèshēn xī wàng zhǎng zī jiē. [lean] [body] [west] [look] [long] [sigh] [sigh] Leaning out and looking to west makes one sigh deeply.

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