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Classical Chinese

蘇軾 戲子由 translation: Teasing Zi You, by Su Shi

This is a very rough translation and annotation of the poem 戲子由 (Xì Zǐyóu), ‘Teasing Zi You’, by the Song Dynasty Chinese poet 蘇軾 (Sū Shì).

If you have any suggestions, please share them in the comments at the end of the page.

rain

戲子由 Xì Zǐyóu [game] [Zi] [You] Teasing Zi You

宛丘先生長如丘, Wǎn Qiū xiānshēng cháng rú qiū, [Wan] [Qiu] [mister][] [long] [like] [hill] Mr Wan Qiu is as tall as a hill;

宛丘學舍小如舟。 Wǎn Qiū xué shě xiǎo rú zhōu. [Wan] [Qiu] [study] [residence] [small] [like] [boat] Wan Qiu's study quarters are as small as a boat.

常時低頭誦經史, Chángshí dītóu sòng jīng shǐ, [always] [often] [lower] [head] [read aloud] [classic] [history] He often lowers his head and reads aloud the classics and histories;

忽然欠伸屋打頭。 hūrán qiànshēn wū dǎ tóu. [sudden] [-ky] [stretch][] [ceiling] [hit] [head] suddenly he extends his body and hits his head on the ceiling.

斜風吹帷雨註面, Xié fēngchuī wéi yǔ zhù miàn, [slanting] [wind] [blow] [canopy] [rain] [flow] [face] Slanting rain blows inside the curtains, rain flows onto his face;

先生不愧旁人羞。 xiānshēng bùkuì pángrén xiū. [mister][] [not] [ashamed] [side] [person] [ashamed] Mister Wan Qiu is not ashamed whilst those around him are.

任從飽死笑方朔, Rèn cóng bǎo sǐ xiào Fāng Shuò, [responsible] [from] [satisfied] [die] [laugh] [Fang] [Shuo] Better to eat so much that one dies, and laugh at Fang Shuo; (Reference to a story in 《汉书·东方朔传》.)

肯為雨立求秦優。 kěn wèi yǔ lì qiú qín yōu. [willing] [be] [rain] [stand] [seek] [Qin] [You] one is willing to stand in the rain, rather than beseech Qin You. (Reference to a story in 《史记·滑稽列传》.)

眼前勃谿何足道, Yǎnqián bó xī hé zúdào, [eye] [in front] [argue][] [what] [enough] [say] Before one's eyes they argue, how insignificant it is; (足道 = 微不足道.)

處置六鑿須天遊。 chǔzhì liùzáo xū tiānyóu. [deal with] [set up] [six] [emotions] [must] [heaven] [roam] to deal with the six emotions one must roam the heavens. (六鑿 comes from 《莊子·外物》. The six emotions are: 喜 joy、怒 anger、哀 sorrow、乐 happiness、爱 love and 恶 hatred.)

讀書萬卷不讀律, Dúshū wàn juǎn bù dú lǜ, [read] [book] [ten thousand] [scroll] [not] [read] [law] In his studies of ten thousand scrolls, he does not study the law;

致君堯舜知無術。 zhì jūn Yáo Shùn zhī wú shù. [cause] [lord] [Yao] [Shun] [know] [not have] [method] like the Lords Yao and Shun - their knowledge has no art.

勸農冠蓋鬧如雲, Quàn nóng guān gài nào rú yún, [encourage] [agriculture] [hat] [cover] [noisy] [like] [cloud] The officials promoting agriculture are rowdy like clouds;

送老齏鹽甘似蜜。 sòng lǎo jī yán gān shì mì. [carry] [old] [pickled vegetables] [salt] [sweet] [like] [honey] when caring for the elderly, pickled vegetables and salt are sweet like honey.

門前萬事不掛眼, Ménqián wànshì bù guà yǎn, [door] [in front] [ten thousand] [thing] [not] [hang] [eye] In front of his door, ten thousand things - none concern his eyes;

頭雖長低氣不屈。 tóu suī cháng dī qì bù qū. [head] [although] [long] [low] [energy] [not] [bent] although his head is tall and he is stooped, his spirit is not warped.

余杭別駕無功勞, Yú háng bié jià wú gōngláo, [my] [Hangzhou] [local magistrate][] [not have] [service] [toil] As the local magistrate in Hangzhou, I have done no meritorious service,

畫堂五丈容旂旄。 huà táng wǔ zhàng róng qí máo. [paint] [hall] [five] [ten feet] [contain] [flag] [banner] yet my picture hall is fifty feet wide, containing flags and banners.

重樓跨空雨聲遠, Chóng lóu kuà kōng yǔ shēng yuǎn, [repeat] [building] [span] [empty] [rain] [sound] [far] In a storeyed building open and empty, the sound of the rain is distant;

屋多人少風騷騷。 wū duō rén shǎo fēng sāo sāo. [room] [many] [people] [few] [wind] [bother] [bother] the rooms are many and the people few, the sound of the wind is bothersome.

平生所慚今不恥, Píngshēng suǒ cán jīn bù chǐ, [all one's life][] [that which] [ashamed] [today] [not] [embarrass] That which one was ashamed of all one's life - now one is not ashamed:

坐對疲氓更鞭箠。 zuò duì pí máng gèng biān chuí. [sit] [to] [weary] [commoner] [more] [whip] [flog] to the poor commoners one applies the whip some more.

道逢陽虎呼與言, Dào féng Yáng Hǔ hū yǔ yán, [road] [encounter] [Yang] [Hu] [call] [with] [speak] On the road one encounters Yang Hu, calling out to and speaking with him; (陽虎 = 阳货, someone Confucius despised.)

心知其非口諾唯。 xīn zhī qí fēi kǒu nuò wéi. [heart] [know] [his] [bad] [mouth] [yes] [yes] one's heart knows he is bad but one's mouth agrees with him. (諾唯 = 唯唯諾諾.)

居高忘下真何益, Jū gāo wàng xià zhēn hé yì, [occupy] [high] [forget] [low] [really] [what] [benefit] Occupying the high and forgetting the low - truly how is it beneficial?

氣節消縮今無幾。 qìjié xiāo suō jīn wújǐ. [spirit] [integrity] [disappear] [now] [not have] [much] One's moral integrity is fading - now one hardly has any.

文章小技安足程, Wénzhāng xiǎo jì ān zú chéng, [writing] [essay] [small] [skill] [how] [enough] [law] My small skill in literature - how can it fulfil order? (This is like 雕虫小技.)

先生別駕舊齊名。 xiānshēng bié jià jiù qímíng. [mister][] [local magistrate][] [old] [level with] [fame] You and I used to be equally famous.

如今衰老俱無用, Rújīn shuāilǎo jù wúyòng, [as] [today] [decline] [old] [entirely] [not have] [use] Now declining in old age, we are entirely useless;

付與時人分重輕。 fù yǔ shí rén fèn zhòng qīng. [hand over] [with] [time] [person] [separate] [heavy] [light] hand it over to the people of today to sort the serious from the frivolous.

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