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游金山寺 Visiting Jinshan Temple


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)













Visiting Jinshan Temple

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)

This river’s sourced from Mt Min at my hometown.

My career followed the waves all the way down.

She’s lost peace at times to high tides, they say,

Rolling sands to the sea through this gate way.

Yet, the rocks on Zhongling Stream south

Are never moved by waves, soft or loud.

For a better view, to the peak I made my way

Only mountainous green, Mt Min’s not found.

As my mind wanders, the day’s getting late.

Better head home but my boat’s not around.

The monks bid me stay for the sunset here.

Rosy clouds change shapes roaming in mid-air; -

A breeze plays on rippling waves, far and near,

Night descents with crescent moon like whisker.

Just then, on the river a shining object appears,

The hills are floodlit and crows cawing in fear.

The night is pitch-dark a moment later.

I can’t sleep, lost for a comment proper.

Maybe River God’s vexed with this wanderer,

Still here after fame, not back to my homeland.

I seek his pardon for my stubborn nature,

And promise to return when I have some land.


1. Jinshan Temple: an old temple complex on Mt. Jin (‘shan’ meaning a hill here) in

Zhenjiang City, Jiangsu Province today. The complex land used to be an island in the middle of the Yangtze River during Su Shi’s time, but is now just a part of south bank.

2. Mt Min: Su Shi was born in Meizhou, a small town nestled at the bottom of the great Mt Min which was believed back then to be the source of the Yangtze River.

3. Zhongling Stream: a stream running down Mt Jin to the Yangtze River;


On his way to his new post at the mayor of Hangzhou, Su Shi was invited by his friends, two monks at Jinshan Temple, to visit the famous complex. It could be the monks’ idea to hide Su Shi’s boat away so they could spend more time with their beloved friend. Just at that night under a crescent moon, they saw with awe a super-natural thing in the middle of the Yangtze River which, in today’s sense, could be an unidentified object. It happened at about 10 o’clock pm on November 3, 1070, Chinese lunar calendar, about early December in solar calendar.

This poem of 7-character verse could be simply read as a travelogue. But the touch of a celebrity with his sentiment at that particular moment enhances the artistic effect with dramatical imaginations. It structured on three parts, so can be reasonably divided into three stanzas to suit today’s poetry format. (Ancient Chinese writings didn’t use paragraph format, nor punctuations.) It started with a melancholy sigh that he’s wandering further away on his official journey from his hometown on the Yangtze River, foreshadowing the ending verse. The sightseeing and aesthetic values are detailed here with the rocks on south bank to symbolize his obstinate personality, hinting he’s so buried in this hustle and bustle of fame-hunting game, not wakened to free his true nature. The 2nd stanza tells the main incident of the miraculous object in flames lighting up both banks of the river. He made an effort to conclude this experience with an intellectual interpretation by echoing his precious melancholy with fantasy and a promise of return to the mountains.


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) ("For how long now have these shores been altered by waves!/I climb a peak to look for my native place…./There are only the river, north and south, and mountainous green./Homesick, afraid, and finally, I remember my boat,/But the old monk bids me watch the sun go down./A light wind blows over the wide river, like a wavering sail.//The last of the clouds, mid-air, are red fishtails./And now the moon must five the river light;/Now midnight nears and day is deepest dark./What are those, torches? Out in mid-stream, burning?/What is it startling crow from his nightly home?//How sadly I go to bed, my heart not knowing/If it was spirit, trick, or man, or what it was./“Why not return here, it’s all so beautiful.”/The river god’s mystery accuses foolish me./I thank his silver mercies, what else can I do?/If I’ve a land an don’t abide there, make me this river)

3. painting from Google;



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