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  • Julia Min

海棠The Flowering Crab-apple


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)

新版及赏析: 闵晓红(2023)





The Flowering Crab-apple

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

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

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

The moon is turning the corner of the porch

For a glimpse of her glorious beauty adored.

The east wind slows down for her sweet perfume

In the beaming waves of her budding blooms.

I light a long candle, fearing she’d drowse away,

So I won’t miss any moment of her short stay.


This poem was written in 1083. It can be read as a pure enjoyment of a flowerholic over the sensual beauty of a blooming crap-apple tree, which was said to be growing in a neighbour’s yard in Huangzhou where Su Shi gave himself the new name Dongpo, meaning ‘the east slope’. There, he had his first experience of farming like a local common folk. It was believed the flower species were rarely found elsewhere other than his native place in the mountains of Sichuan in the west, the old capital of Chang’an (today’s Xi’an). I could imagine the blissful joy when Su Shi saw it in Huangzhou, a tree that could have brought many happy young memories fresh in mind. It is indeed a precious soothing moment during his exile life.

Another association of the crap-apple flower is believed to be the high Tang Dynasty’s beauty, Lady Yang of Emperor Xuanzong (Yang Guifei). One day, she was summoned by the Emperor to be present at a royal banquet. After too much drink the night before she was slow to respond while kneeing down, still with drunken eyes, rosy cheeks and loosened hairdo. The Emperor had loved her every shade of grey and pink, and said, she’s not a drunkard. She’s a crap-apple flower drowsing in her sweet mist.


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) Flowering Crabapple"--The east wind makes her dance and beam pure light/In the sweet mist of midnight as the moon declines./In dead of night I fear she’ll drowse away;/Light a long candle so she blooms till day.”)

2.Picture from龙军库博客)


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