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  • Julia Min

和子由渑池怀旧 How I compare the new arrivals in a life journey?


原作: 苏轼(11世纪北宋)

英译旧版: 戈登.奥赛茵, 闵晓红, 黄海鹏(1990)

英版修改: 闵晓红(2023)









How I compare the new arrivals in a life journey?

--A poem echoing to my brother Ziyou’s “Mianchi in Memory”

written by: Su Shi (1084)

1st En. trans. by: G. Osing, J. Min & H. Huang (1990)

En. revision by: Julia Min (2023)

How I compare the new arrivals in a life journey?

Like the geese, tired in sky, shall land anywhere.

Only for a brief rest before winging up to the air,

Leaving claw prints on muddy snow here and there.

As for the prints pointing east or west, who cares?!

The old monk’s turned to ashes in a new pagoda,

And no trace of our poems on the decaying wall.

You wonder if I could recall our teenage years, -

All the twists and turns, all the ventures together.

I see two boys on neighing donkeys, all knackered!


1. Ziyou’s “Mianchi in Memory” : Here’s the original poem in Chinese:

怀渑池寄子瞻兄》(“相携话别郑原上, /共道长途怕雪泥。/归骑还寻大梁陌,/行人已渡古崤西。//曾为县吏民知否,/旧宿僧房壁共题。/遥想独游佳味少,/无言骓马但鸣嘶!”)


Su Shi and his brother Ziyou had been great friends. They entered the Royal Exams together, Shi at 21 and Ziyou only 19, and were both enrolled on the top list, with Shi the best of all. Shi was posted to a minor job in Mianchi, which was meant as taining / internship. Ziyou saw his brother off by keeping him company all the way to the plains of Zhen. He also wrote him a poem on his way back. So this poem was a reply by Shi, echoing the rhymes of Ziyou’s lines ---an intellectual social correspondence popular at the time.

Shi, or Dongpo had a short working experience in Mianchi before this trip. His brother Ziyou joined him there and the two teens had enjoyed many outings on horse back together – a sweet memory they cherished ever since. One of the trips took them to a Daoist temple where they were well received by an old monk. As if the day trip was not enough to unleash their excitements, they both wrote a poem on the wall with a writing brush.

Dongpo was obviously disappointed after being told the old monk was gone and buried in a pagoda, and even more so to see no trace of their poems on the wall. For a moment he was captured in melancholy, a helpless feeling towards the changes in life. Yet he didn’t stop there to be overcome by it. Instead, a great spirit like Dongpo will break through and transcend to a new level of realization, thus the theme – a philosophical optimistic grace was already taking roots in the young mind of Su Shi, setting the stage for his future ideas.


1. Blooming Alone in Winter by Gordon Osing, Julia Min and Huang Haipeng,published by the People's Publication House Henan Province in 1990 (《寒心未肯随春态》戈登.奥赛茵,闵晓红,黄海鹏) ("")

3. painting from Google;



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