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浣溪沙. 细雨斜风作晓寒 A Light Rain in Cold Wind Sways the Willows


浣溪沙. 细雨斜风作晓寒

(元丰七年十二月二十四日,从泗州刘倩叔游南山。)


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)


细雨斜风作晓寒,

淡烟疏柳媚晴滩。

入淮清洛渐漫漫。


雪沫乳花浮午盏,

蓼茸蒿笋试春盘。

人间有味是清欢。


A Light Rain in Cold Wind Sways the Willows

(I visited Mt South with Liu Qianshu in Sizhou on 24 Dec. 1084)

- to the tune “The Washing Stream"


written by: Su Shi (1084)

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

En. revision by: Julia Min (2023)


A light rain in cold wind sways the willows,

Embracing the river banks in drifting smoke. -

River Luo feeds into River Huai in vast folds.


My lunch is the tade sprouts and bamboo shoots,

And the tea crema tops my cup like smooth snow.-

The real taste of life roots in a simple living mode.

Appreciation:

In 1084, Su Shi was moved from Huangzhou to Ruzhou ( in today’s Henan Province), a turning point for his career. On his way passing Sizhou, he visited Mt. South with a friend. The life in the mountain was so peaceful, not to mention the locals had all the fresh produce of spring on the table. His spirit had been troubled with too much chaos and complexity from the so-called civilization, and here, he felt the blissful joy of a return to basics, to the minimal living mode, and of relearning or recovering his taste in real life by connecting with Nature. It’s said that he had sent a letter to the Emperor asking for retirement from official post to a recluse life. This ci could be an evidence for his intention.

The 3-line stanzas are of the original structure for this lyric ci tune which I often translated into four conventional 4-line stanzas to deal with the complexity of content embodied under the lines. This poem, however, is a simple clear picture of his experience of the day, no reference of historical figures or legendary stories involved. The last line has been often quoted. Being the theme of this poem, all the previous five lines feed slowly like five branch rivers to the main stream. Very tasty indeed.


Notes:

1. Liu Qianshu: a friend who lived in Sizhou (approximately in Si County, Anhui Province today);

2. Mt South: located at the southeast of Sizhou then;

3. River Luo: a river branch flowing from northwest to the north east of Anhui and joins River Huai there.

4. Tea: tea-making in the Song dynasty was a huge part of daily life with a variety to serve at the table. This creamy tea making was called ‘Dian Cha’, seen still today in Japan and some countries in south Asia. Today’s Cha latte, Mocha.


Reference:

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 light rain showing the cold angle of the wind cleared out/And then we saw the thin smoke of a home, scattered willows tending an empty bank/Where Luo Creek feeds easily as clear into the River Huai.// White as snow, white like milk-flowers boils my cup of tea at noon./My Spring plate is full of the taste of fresh lettuce and wild greens,/Better these simple luxuries than bowls-full of greasy society. )

2. painting from google;

 




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