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Classical Chinese

地崩山摧壯士死 story translation, from《华阳国志·蜀志》

This is a translation of the story referenced in the poem 蜀道難 by 李白. The line in that poem is:

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

The line is a bit incomprehensible (unusual for a Tang poem!) unless you’re aware of the story it refers to, which comes from 华阳国志·蜀志 (Huayang National Record: Record of Shu). Here’s a rough annotation of that story:

秦惠王知蜀王好色, Qín Huì wáng zhī Shǔ wáng hàosè, [Qin] [Hui] [king] [know] [Shu] [king] [fond of] [sex] King Hui of Qin knew that the King of Shu was lascivious,

許嫁五女於蜀。 xǔjià wǔ nǚ yú Shǔ. [permit] [marry] [five] [daughter] [to] [Shu] and permitted the marriage of five daughters to Shu.

蜀遣五丁迎之。 Shǔ qiǎn wǔ dīng yíng zhī. [Shu] [dispatch] [five] [man] [welcome] [them] Shu dispatched five men to welcome them.

還到梓潼, Huán dào Zǐtóng, [return] [to] [Zi] [pass] On the return to Zi Pass,

見一大蛇入穴中。 jiàn yī dàshé rù xué zhōng. [see] [a] [big] [snake] [enter] [cave] [into] they saw a large snake going into a cave.

一人攬其尾掣之, Yī rén lǎn qí wěi chè zhī, [one] [person] [grab] [its] [tail] [pull back] [it] One man grabbed its tailed and pulled it back;

不禁。 bùjīn. [not] [endure] but he could not resist it.

至五人相助, Zhì wǔ rén xiāngzhù, [to] [five] [people] [mutually] [help] The five men helped each other,

大呼拽蛇。 dà hū zhuāi shé. [big] [shout] [haul] [snake] and shouting loudly, they pulled at the snake.

山崩, Shānbēng, [mountain] [collapse] The mountain collapsed, It’s all fun and games until you cause a landslide.

壓殺五人及秦五女並將從, yàshā wǔ rén jí qín wǔ nǚ bìng jiāng cóng, [crush] [kill] [five] [men] [and] [Qin] [five] [daughter] [together] [take] [follow] crushing the five men and the five Qin women with them;

而山分為五嶺。 ér shān fēn wéi wǔlǐng. [and] [mountain] [split] [as] [five] [ridge] and so the mountain was split into five peaks.

I’m sure this story made more sense in the author’s head, but we’ll never know for sure.

[caption id=“attachment_7915” align=“aligncenter”]Artist’s impression of the incident[/caption]

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