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Soushenji No. 134 translation: Rats Nesting in Trees

搜神記:鼠巢樹上 (一三四)

A nest in a treeThis is a translation and annotation of text No. 134 in 搜神記 (Soushenji – ‘In Search of the Supernatural’), a collection of strange happenings compiled by 干寶 (Gan Bao) in the 4th century C.E.

In order to be useful to people studying the text, this translation aims to be literal and close to the original.


[rat] [nest] [tree] [on] Rats Nesting in Trees

漢成帝建始四年九月,長安城南, [_Han_] [_Cheng_] [_Di_] [_Jian_] [_Shi_] [four] [year] [nine] [month],[_Chang_] [_An_] [city] [south] In the ninth month of the fourth year of Han Chengdi’s Jianshi reign, south of the city of Chang’an,

有鼠銜黃稿、柏葉 [have] [rat] [hold in mouth] [yellow] [straw]、[cypress] [leaf] there were rats taking yellow straw and cypress leaves in their mouths,

上民冢柏及榆樹上為巢。 [ascend] [citizen] [burial mound] [cypress] [and] [elm] [tree] [on] [make] [nest] ascending the cypress and elm trees on citizens’ tombs and making nests there.

桐柏為多, [_Tong_] [_Bai_] [be] [many] In Tongbai there were many;__

巢中無子,皆有乾鼠矢數升, [nest] [in] [not have] [child],[all] [have] [dry] [rat] [dropping] [several] [measure] in the nests there were no young, but all had several measures of dry rat droppings; _[矢](http://www.zdic.net/zd/zi/ZdicE7Zdic9FZdicA2.htm "Meaning of 矢") can mean droppings in archaic texts, as it does here._

時議臣以為恐有水災。 [when] [discuss] [official] [take] [to be] [fear] [have] [water] [disaster] when discussing this, officials feared that there would be a flood.

鼠盜竊小蟲,夜出晝匿, [rat] [stealth] [steal] [little] [animal],[night] [go out] [daytime] [hide] The rat is a stealthy little animal that steals, coming out at night and hiding during the day;

今正晝去穴而登木, [now] [right] [daytime] [leave] [hole] [and] [climb] [tree] yet now right in the day they were leaving their holes and climbing trees;

象賤人將居貴顯之占。 [omen] [lowly] [person] [will] [reside] [noble] [prominent] ['s] [occupy] this was an omen that lowly people would occupy noble and prominent positions.

桐柏,衛思后園所在也。 [_Tong_] [_Bai_],[_Wei_] [_Si_] [empress] [garden] [that which] [located] [it is so] Tongbai was the location of Empress Weisi’s gardens.

其後趙后自微賤登至尊, [its] [after] [_Zhao_] [empress] [from] [tiny] [lowly] [climb] [to] [honour] After this Empress Zhao climbed to honour from a tiny, lowly position,

與衛后同類。 [with] [_Wei_] [empress] [same] [class] to be in the same class as Empress Wei.

趙后終無子而為害。 [_Zhao_] [empress] [end] [not have] [child] [yet] [did] [harm] Empress Zhao never had children, but caused great harm.

明年,有鳶焚巢殺子之象云。 [next] [year],[have] [kite] [burn] [nest] [kill] [child] ['s] [omen] The next year, there was the omen of kites burning their nests and killing their young.

京房易傳曰: [_Jing_] [_Fang_] [change] [commentary] [say] Jing Fang’s Commentary on Changes says:

「臣私祿罔辟,厥妖鼠巢。」 [official] [private] [salary] [deceive] [emperor],[its] [evil] [rat] [nest] “When officials privately take salaries and deceive the emperor, its omen is rats making nests.”

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