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Soushenji No. 310 translation: The Ye Bird of Yue

搜神記:越地冶鳥 (三一零)

This is a translation and annotation of text No. 310 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.

越地冶鳥

Yuè Dì Yě Niǎo [_Yue_] [place] [_Ye_] [Bird] The Ye Bird of Yue

越地深山中有鳥, Yuè dì shēnshān zhōng yǒu niǎo, [_Yue_] [place] [deep] [mountain] [in] [have] [bird] In _Yue_, deep in the mountains, there is a bird,

大如鳩,青色,名曰「冶鳥」, dà rú jiū, qīngsè, míng yuē `Yě niǎo', [big] [as] [turtle-dove], [green-black] [colour], [name] [say] "[_Ye_] [bird]" as big as a turtle dove, green-black in colour, called "the _Ye_ bird",

穿大樹作巢, chuān dàshù zuò cháo, [bore through] [big] [tree] [do] [nest] it bores into large trees to make a nest,

如五六升器, rú wǔ liù shēng qì, [like] [five] [six] [pint] [vessel] which is like a five or six pint vessel,

戶口徑數寸, hù kǒujìng shù cùn, [entrance] [mouth] [diameter] [several] [inches] with an entrance several inches in diameter,

周飾以土埡, zhōu shì yǐ tǔ yā, [all over] [decorate] [use] [earth] [ravine] decorated all over with mud, I'm not sure what 埡 is doing here. Comments welcome.

赤白相分, chì bái xiāng fēn, [red] [white] [each other] [separate] separated into red and white,

狀如射侯。 zhuàng rú shè hóu. [shape] [like] [shoot] [knight] shaped like an archery target.

伐木者見此樹, Fámùzhě jiàn cǐ shù, [cut down] [tree] [those who] [see] [this] [tree] When foresters see such a tree,

即避之去。 jí bì zhī qù. [promptly] [avoid] [it] [go] they immediately avoid going near it.

或夜冥不見鳥, Huò yè míng bùjiàn niǎo, [alternatively] [night] [dark] [not] [see] [bird] But in the dark of night they do not see the bird,

鳥亦知人不見, niǎo yì zhīrén bùjiàn, [bird] [also] [know] [people] [not] [see] and the bird also knows that people cannot see it;

便鳴喚曰: biàn míng huàn yuē: [then] [cry] [call] [say] it will then call out:

「咄,咄,上去!」 `Duō, duō, shàngqù!' "[duo] [duo] [up] [go]" "Tou! Tou! Up you go!"

明日便宜急上。 míngrì biànyí jí shàng. [next] [day] [convenient] [should] [hurry] [up] and the next day, when it is convenient, they rush up.

「咄,咄,下去!」 `Duō, duō, xiàqù!' [duo] [duo] [down] [go] "Tou! Tou! Down you go!"

明日便宜急下。 Míngrì biànyí jí xià. [next] [day] [convenient] [hurry] [down] and the next day, when it is convenient, they rush down.

若不使去, Ruò bù shǐ qù, [if] [not] [cause] [go] If he is not made to leave,

但言笑而不已者, dàn yán xiào ér bùyǐ zhě, [still] [speech] [laughter] [yet] [not] [stop] [as for] and the chattering of the bird does not stop,

人可止伐也。 rén kě zhǐ fá yě. [person] [can] [only] [chop] [it is so] only then can someone fell trees.

若有穢惡及其所止者, Ruò yǒu huì è jí qí suǒ zhǐ zhě, [if] [have] [filth] [harm] [as well as][] [that which] [stops] [as for] If there are droppings that fall on him and something that stops him, Don't know what to make of this line. Comments welcome.

則有虎通夕來守, zé yǒu hǔ tōng xī lái shǒu, [then] [have] [tiger] [come through] [dusk] [come] [guard] then a tiger will come through the twilight to guard him;

人不去,便傷害人。 rén bù qù, biàn shānghài rén. [person] [not] [go], [then] [injure] [harm] [person] if the person does not leave, then it will maim them.

此鳥白日見其形,是鳥也; Cǐ niǎo bái rì jiàn qí xíng, shì niǎo yě; [this] [bird] [bright] [sun] [see] [its] [form], [is] [bird] [it is so] If one sees the form of this bird during the day, it is a bird;

夜聽其鳴,亦鳥也; yè tīng qí míng, yì niǎo yě; [night] [hear] [its] [cry], [likewise] [bird] [it is so] if one hears its cry at night, it is likewise a bird;

時有觀樂者, shí yǒu guān lè zhě, [time] [have] [observe] [happy] [as for] but at times when it is joyful,

便作人形,長三尺, biàn zuò rénxíng, cháng sān chǐ, [then] [act as] [human] [form], [long] [three] [feet] it will take on human form, three feet tall;

至澗中取石蟹, zhì jiàn zhōng qǔ shí xiè, [go] [mountain stream] [in] [take] [rock] [crab] it goes to mountain streams and gathers rock-crabs,

就火炙之, jiù huǒ zhì zhī, [then] [fire] [boil] [it] then takes them to people's fires to boil them;

人不可犯也。 rén bùkě fàn yě. [people] [not] [can] [offend] [it is so] people cannot refuse it doing this.

越人謂此鳥是「越祝」之祖也。 Yuè rén wèi cǐ niǎo shì 'yuè zhù' zhī zǔ yě. [_Yue_] [people] [call] [this] [bird] "[_Yue_] [wizard]" [ancestor] [it is so] The people of _Yue_ refer to this bird as the ancestor of the _Yue_ sorcerers.

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