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163 李白 司馬將軍歌 translation: Sima General Song, by Li Bai

This is a rough translation and annotation of the poem 司馬將軍歌 (Sīmǎ Jiāngjūn Gē), ‘Sima General Song’, by the Tang Dynasty Chinese poet 李白 (Lǐ Bái). The subtitle of the poem is 以代隴上健兒陳安 (Yĭ Dài Lŏngshàng Jiàn’ér Chén’ān): ‘On Behalf of Longshang Soldier Chen’An’.

司馬將軍歌 Sīmǎ Jiāngjūn Gē [Sima][] [General] [Song] Sima General Song

以代隴上健兒陳安 Yĭ Dài Lŏngshàng Jiàn'ér Chén'ān [to] [represent] [Longshang][] [Jian'er][] [Chen'an][] On Behalf of Longshang Soldier Chen'An 健兒 were a type of voluntary soldier; the term can also refer to soldiers or warriors in general.

狂風吹古月, kuáng fēng chuī gŭ yuè [mad] [wind] [blow] [old] [moon] A wild wind blows across the ancient moon, 古月 might be 胡 split into separate characters to fit the line, which 百度百科 claims refers to 胡人 / “barbarians”.

竊弄章華臺。 qiè nòng zhāng huá tái [secretly] [do] [Zhang] [Hua] [tower] stealing its way to Zhanghua Tower.

北落明星動光彩, bĕi luò míng xīng dòng guāng căi [north] [fall] [bright] [star] [move] [light] [hue] The North is befallen with bright stars moving in light and colour,

南征猛將如雲雷。 nán zhēng mĕng jiàng rú yún léi [south] [invade] [fearsome] [general] [like] [clouds] [thunder] the South is invaded by a fearsome general, like a cloud of thunder.

手中電擊倚天劒, shŏu zhōng diàn jī yĭ tiān jiàn [hand] [in] [lightning] [strike] [lean] [heaven] [sword] In his hand the lightning-striking Heaven Reaching Sword, 倚天劒 is a specific famous sword.

直斬長鯨海水開。 zhí zhăn cháng jīng hăi shuĭ kāi [straight] [cut] [long] [whale] [sea] [water] [open] cutting straight through huge whales, parting ocean waters.

我見樓船壯心目, wŏ jiàn lóu chuán zhuàng xīn mù [I] [see] [building] [ship] [warrior] [heart] [eye] One sees towering ships of the warrior's mind,

頗似龍驤下三蜀。 pŏ sì lóng xiāng xià sān Shŭ [quite] [resemble] [dragon] [gallop] [down] [three] [Shu] like dragons rushing down on Shu. 三蜀 is the Shu region.

揚兵習戰張虎旗, yáng bīng xí zhàn zhāng hŭ qí [disperse] [soldier] [practice] [war] [stretch] [tiger] [banner] Dispersing soldiers to wage war, unfurling tiger banners,

江中白浪如銀屋。 jiāng zhōng bái làng rú yín wū [river] [in] [white] [wave] [like] [silver] [house] in the river, white waves like a glittering treasury.

身居玉帳臨河魁, shēn jū yù zhàng lín hé kuí [oneself] [live] [jade] [tent] [neighbour] [river] [chief] Residing in a jade tent facing the riverside headquarters,

紫髯若戟冠崔嵬。 zĭ rán ruò jĭ guàn cuī wéi [purple] [beard] [like] [halberd] [cap] [high] [lofty] black beards like spearheads raised high.

細柳開營揖天子, xì liŭ kāi yíng yī tiān zĭ [fine] [willow tree] [open] [encampment] [salute] [Heaven] [offspring] In Xiliu setting up camp, saluting the Son of Heaven,

始知灞上爲嬰孩。 shĭ zhī bà shàng wèi yīng hái [begin] [know] [River Ba] [top] [do] [baby] [child] first knowing at the end of the River Ba was but a child. This line is saying that they now believe the enemy army are like children playing at war.

羌笛橫吹阿嚲迴, qiāng dí héng chuī ā duŏ huí [Qiang] [flute] [across] [blow] [Ah] [read aloud] [revolve] Qiang flutes come across playing A Duo Hui, 阿嚲迴 is the title of a specific folk song.

向月樓中吹落梅。 xiàng yuè lóu zhōng chuī luò méi [toward] [moon] [building] [in] [blow] [fall] [plums] in the Moon Facing Tower playing Falling Plums. 吹落梅 can be interpreted as the playing of a particular folk tune, or as plum blossom falling in the wind.

將軍自起舞長劒, jiāng jūn zì qĭ wŭ cháng jiàn [general] [army] [self] [rise] [dance] [long] [sword] The General rises, brandishing the long sword;

壯士呼聲動九垓。 zhuàng shì hū shēng dòng jiŭ gāi [warrior] [soldier] [shout] [sound] [move] [nine] [border] the soldiers' shouting shakes the Nine Borders.

功成獻凱見明主, gōng chéng xiàn kăi jiàn míng zhŭ [achievement] [completed] [offer] [triumphant] [see] [bright] [master] Success achieved, presenting victory one sees one's glorious lord;

丹青畫象麒麟臺。 dān qīng huà xiàng qílín tái [red] [blue] [paint] [like] [unicorn][] [tower] a painting in likeness of the Qilin Tower.

Sources

司馬將軍歌 - WikiSource

司马将军歌 - 百度百科

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