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  • Julia Min

有美堂暴雨 A Storm over Youmei Hall


原作: 苏轼(字子瞻, 号东坡居士; 11世纪北宋)

旧版英译:戈登.奥赛茵, 闵晓红, 黄海鹏(1990)

新版英译及赏析: 闵晓红(2023)









A Storm over Youmei Hall

written by Su Shi (11th AC, social name 'Dongpo')

old En. trans. by G. Osing, J. Min & H. Huang (1990)

new En. trans.+ annot. by Julia Min ( Feb. 2023)

Beneath my feet the Earth shudders in thunder.

And Heaven’s darkening in rumbling anger.

The trade winds hurl up walls of waves over.

Rains, dark and furious, fly across the river.

Big drops loud like the pounding on Jie drums,

The West Lake’s alive as a winecup overfilled,

The shower could sober up Li Bai from his cup

To write poems like a mermaid’s pearls tumbled.


1. Youmei Hall: built in 1057 (Song) in honour of Emperor Renzong and named after his Majesty’s verse. Many poems and prose were written by notable men including Su Shi’s teacher Ouyang Xiu on the hall’s spectacular view of both Qiantang River and West Lake.

2. Jie drums: large and loud drum of the Jie People, used to be favoured by the Tang Emperor Xuan Zong;

3. Li Bai: one of the greatest Chinese poets from the Tang dynasty. Once he was summoned to the Emperor’s presence when he was still in a hangover, whereupon the Majesty ordered to douse him with cold water. When he sobered up, he broke into a frenzy of composition.


Written in 1073 when Su Shi was still the deputy governor of Hangzhou, a very productive period for him not only as a civil servant but also as a poet. The famous destination Youmei Hall was located near Hangzhou city, a most developed place back then. The hall had been a hot topic for poetry, prose and paintings since its establishment. Any new piece of work would be judged heavily by critics against the masterpieces of the past on the subject. Just imagine how you would feel to compose a poem on daffodils after Wordsworth’s poem, or to paint the last supper after Leonardo da Vinci’s work, or to sing “Poetry in Motion” after Johnny Tillotson. I can almost feel the pressure there during his composition, which perhaps, turned to inspiration for his heroic current manifested in the vibes of this poem, as he was a man able to swim against the current. The poem has been indeed a most remembered one on Youmei Hall. You can’t help but being drawn to the dramatic yet powerful moment of a majestic summer storm played on the wide river surface, the surrounding hills, West Lake on the other side, and of course, the travellers on the top of Mt Wu. To match such momentum Su Shi touched upon the glorious Tang Empire -- the best known emperor and his drums, the romantic and untamed poet Li Bai, and even the legendary mermaid’s treasures for your wild imaginations. I’m right there beside him before the Hall, all wet through. Are you too? Wow!


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) (A Storm Over Youmei Hall -- Earth breaks open under me;/ In wonderful anger Heaven is solid black;/ The darkness hurls-up great waves in the distance/ And furious rains cress the river with Easterlies./ The river’s alive as wine in my gold cup overfilled / The Jie are pounding drums demanding rain’s obedience. /Be quick, my soul, like Li Bai, when the King had him doused. / Upside down’s the mermaid’s house and all her pearls spilled.”)

2. pictures from Google


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