Politics

24 Verses Lamenting The Fate Of Consul Xiao Of Suizhou

Authors note: To my knowledge this is the first translation into English of Li Shangyin’s great poem. When he wrote it, he had not yet passed the imperial examination. In it he laments the banishment of his friend and mentor Xiao Huan to Suizhou in distant Sichuan province. Enjoy!

遥作时多难,yáo zuò shí duō nán,

先令祸有源。xiān lìng huò yǒu yuán。

初惊逐客议,chū jīng zhú kè yì,

旋骇党人冤。xuán hài  dǎng rén yuān。

密侍荣方入,mì shì róng fāng rù,

司刑望愈尊。sī xíng wàng yù zūn。

皆因优诏用,jiē yīn yōu;yòu zhào yòng,

实有谏书存。shí yǒu  jiàn shū cún。

苦雾三辰没,kǔ wù sān chén méi;mò,

穷阴四塞昏。qióng yīn sì sè;sài;sāi hūn。

虎威狐更假,hǔ wēi hú gèng;gēng jiǎ;jià,

隼击鸟逾喧。sǔn jī niǎo yú xuān。

徒欲心存阙,tú yù xīn cún quē;què,

终遭耳属垣。zhōng zāo ěr shǔ yuán。

遗音和蜀魄,yí yīn hé shǔ pò,

易箦对巴猿。yì kuì duì bā yuán。

有女悲初寡,yǒu nǚ bēi chū guǎ,

无男泣过门。wú nán qì  guò mén。

朝争屈原草,cháo;zhāo zhēng  qū yuán cǎo,

庙馁莫敖魂。miào něi mò ào;áo hún。

迥阁伤神峻,jiǒng dū;gé  shāng shén jùn,

长江极望翻。cháng jiāng  jí wàng fān。

青云宁寄意,qīng yún nìng;níng jì yì,

白骨始沾恩。bái gú shǐ zhān ēn。

早岁思东阁,zǎo suì sī dōng dū;gé,

为邦属故园。wèi;wéi bāng shǔ  gù yuán。

登舟惭郭泰,dēng zhōu cán guō tài,

解榻愧陈蕃。jiě tà kuì chén fán。

分以忘年契,fēn yǐ wàng nián qì,

情犹锡类敦。qíng yóu yáng;xí lèi dūn。

公先真帝子,gōng xiān zhēn dì zǐ,

我系本王孙。wǒ xì;jì běn  wáng sūn。

啸傲张高盖,xiào ào zhāng gāo gě;gài,

从容接短辕。cóng róng jiē duǎn;duān yuán。

秋吟小山桂,qiū yín  xiǎo shān guì,

春醉后堂萱。chūn zuì hòu táng xuān。

自叹离通籍,zì tàn lí;róu  tōng jí,

何尝忘叫阍。hé cháng wàng jiào hūn。

不成穿圹入,bù chéng  chuān kuàng rù,

终拟上书论。zhōng nǐ  shàng shū lùn。

多士还鱼贯,duō shì hái;huán  yú guàn,

云谁正骏奔。yún shuí zhèng;zhēng jùn bēn。

暂能诛倏忽,zàn néng zhū  shū hū,

长与问乾坤。cháng;zhǎng yǔ wèn  qián kūn。

蚁漏三泉路,yǐ lòu sān quán lù,

螀啼百草根。jiāng tí bǎi cǎo gēn。

始知同泰讲,shǐ zhī tóng;tòng tài jiǎng,

徼福是虚言。jiào;jiǎo fú shì  xū yán。

 

Being banished so far away was hard indeed

The first edicts were the reason for this misfortune

First feelings of shock swirled around

Astonishment at the political injustice

Secretly, homage was paid to his accomplishments

Even the jailer treated his prisoner with respect

Because all was by imperial order

Written records had to be maintained

The bitter fog reached up to heaven’s three levels

With the sunset, a barren darkness spread everywhere

The tiger was ferocious and the foxes duplicitous

As the falcon attacked, the birds were particularly noisy

Your heart guided you towards the court

In the end, ears in the walls brought you misfortune

The sound of the soul of Shu was lost[1]

One slept on mats suited for the Apes of Ba

Your daughter was tragically widowed

You have no sons to mourn at the door

Courts fought over drafts of Chu Yuan’s statutes[2]

Temples provided no food for this spirit of Aohun

The many pavilions pained the mountain spirits

The great rivers saw extreme turbulence

Was the path of advancement a tranquil one?

Tears of kindness fall first on white bones

From childhood you thought of the Eastern Pavilion

To help unite the regions into one country

Guo Tai felt ashamed to climb into the boat[3]

Chen Fan lost face when he separated the beds [4]

If distance can make one forget our bond

Our feelings are as solid as tin

You are among all first an emperor’s son

I am basically a king’s grandson

Whistle confidently above the open carriage

Unhurriedly welcome the lowly axle

In Autumn recite poems under Little Cassia Mountain

In spring get drunk behind the hall’s daylilies

One sighs at leaving the books

Not that one forgets to call the gatekeeper!

I don’t want to make too much of one’s death

But finally I can draft an explanation in writing

Many scholars follow each other like fish

Whose horse will be fated to bolt along the straight path?

It takes an instant to execute a person

But questions linger long after in heaven and earth

The ant creeps from three streams

The cicada cries from under every sort of plant

First know what is said in tranquil speech

That praying for fortune is fool’s talk!

 

Reading by Mark Obama Ndesandjo

Musical Interlude: Scherzo No.1 of Chopin played by Mark Obama Ndesandjo

Chopin wrote this piece at a time of great political turmoil in Poland. It almost seems like a dialogue between heaven and hell, heaven in the upper notes and hell in the bass.

Notes:
[1] After his death, the soul of the King of Shu was trapped in a cuckoo.

[2] Chu Yuan wrote provocative tracts that were censored by the Imperial government, and raised many disputes among intellectuals.

[3] An outspoken scholar of the late Han dynasty 23-220 AD. Legend has it that he boarded a boat wearing Confucian garments, and soldiers mistook him for a celestial spirit. Shangyin often used allusions to the past to criticize contemporary political situations.

[4] Chen Fan was also an official and scholar of the Eastern Han Dynasty who opposed the power of the palace eunuchs. Legend has it that he was very modest and would rather use a simple bed than begrudge a visitor a good place to sleep.

Featured Image

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s