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敦煌 醉後失禮謝書 Dunhuang Drunk Apology Letter Translation

This is a close translation and annotation of a text from 敦煌 (Dūnhuáng). The text is a standard form letter for apologising for being too drunk, and has been featured in Letters of Note. It was written in the year 856 AD, during the Tang dynasty.

© The British Library Board; SRE Cat. no. 172, 856, Found in Dunhuang, Cave 17, Ink on paper, Or.8210/S.2200.

醉後失禮謝書 Zùi Hòu Shī Lǐ Xiè Shū [drunk] [after] [lose] [propriety] [apology] [letter] Apology Letter After Drunken Impropriety

昨日多飲, Zuó rì duō yǐn, [yesterday] [day] [excess] [drink] Yesterday, I drank to excess;

醉甚過度。 zùi shén guò dù. [drunk] [extreme] [pass] [degree] I was drunk to an extreme that passed all limits.

麁踈言詞, Cū sú yán cí, [coarse] [negligent] [language] [words] My coarse and careless language —

都不醒覺。 dōu bù xǐng jué. [all] [not] [wake] [conscious] none was from a state of consciousness.

朝來見諸人說, Zhāo lái jiàn zhū rén shuō, [morning] [come] [hear] [several] [person] [speak] Morning arrived and I heard several people speak of it;

方知其由。 fāng zhī qí yóu. [realize then][] [its] [cause] I realised then what had happened. 方知.

無地容身, Wú dì róng shēn, [not have] [earth] [absorb] [body] There was no earth into which my body could sink;

慙悚尤積。 cán sǒng yóu jī. [ashamed] [afraid] [especially] [accumulate] my shame and horror compounded.

本緣小器, Běn yuán xiǎo qì, [root] [cause] [small] [receptacle] The root cause was this small receptacle

到次滿盈。 dào cì mǎn yíng. [arrive] [time] [full] [fill] many times being filled.

深及之伏望 Shēn jí zhī fú wàng [deep] [extreme] ['s] [submit] [hope] I make the deepest submission of my hope 伏望

仁明不賜罪責。 rén míng bù cì zùi zé. [benevolence][] [not] [confer] [guilt] [blame] for your benevolence in not condemning me. 仁明

續當面謝, Xù dāng miàn xiè, [continue] [bear] [face] [apologise] Next I will apologise face-to-face,

先狀諮申。 xiān zhuàng zī shēn. [first] [state] [consult] [state to superior] but first I make this written submission.

伏惟鑑察, Fú wéi jiàn chá, [crouch] [but] [scrutiny] [examine] I prostrate myself for judgement. 伏惟

不宣, Bù xuān, [not] [declare] Without further declaration,

謹狀。 jǐn zhuàng. [respect] [state] respectfully yours.

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