top of page
  • Julia Min

满庭芳.归去来兮Go back to the mountains!



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)

















Go back to the mountains! But where are they?

(On 01 April, 1084, I’m about to leave Huangzhou after being reappointed to another post in Ruzhou. It’s an unforgettable moment saying farewell to my Snow Hall, my good neighbours and a few gentlemen friends. My friend Zhongluan also came all the way from River East.)

written by: Su Shi (1084)

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

En. revision by: Julia Min (2023)

“Go back to the mountains!” But where are they?

Mt. Min and Mt E Mei are a thousand miles away.

I’m half a hundred now, numbered are my days,

Still idling away to the 2nd leap year since I came.

My kids have learned Wu songs and Chu’s lingo.

I’ve made many friends from villages in the hills.

With chickens, pigs, wine for the shrine, and more,

They’re tempting me to grow old at my East Slope.

Yet, I’m taking my leave today. What can I say?

Time flies faster than a weaver’s shuttle game.

I’d forget the hustle and bustle, and be away

For the autumn breeze and Luo’s rippling waves… …

My willows by the Snow Hall will miss me, I know.

So please leave the slender boughs for future days.

Tell my fishing buddies on the south of the River also

To often air-out my straw rain-cape, come what may.


This ci was written in 1084, just as Su Shi was leaving Huangzhou after being assigned a post in Ruzhou which was closer to the Royal Court. He had lived here for over four years, and had seen his children speaking the local dialect. Being Su Dongpo, he could make friends wherever he went, even with the local villagers. Huangzhou people loved him, helping him out on the fields and on many other things. They honoured him as ‘the Big Scholar’. With their help, Su Shi built the Snow Hall where he taught local students. Many years later, though Su Shi never returned, the local descendants still kept rebuilding his favorite place-- Dongpo’s Red Cliff by the Yangtze River. Today Huangzhou is home to some of the best high schools in China. I was born in a nearby town, just half an hour drive from Red Cliff where happened to be linked with my first teaching venue - Huanggang Normal Institute. For three years my students followed me for morning exercise and reading at Red Cliff on every school day. I do feel as if my life has been arranged for this translation mission. What can I say. It’s such an honour and privilege indeed!

This poem starts with “ Go back to the mountains!” (“归去来兮”), a famous line from the great poet Tao Yuanming. It bears a strong Daoist’s inclination for a return to nature, to a country life, away from the fame-seeking world. This theme runs straight through to the end. At this first downturn, Dongpo’s mind had started drifting away from the hustle and bustle of society for a simple life in the village.


1. Mt. Min and Mt. Emei: the two big mountains (Sichuan Province) where our poet’s native place Meishan is located;

2. ‘leap year’: a calculation based on Chinese Calendar where every four years there’s a leap month. During his time in Huangzhou, there were two leap years -- 1080 and 1084.

3. Wu songs and Chu lingo: Huangzhou was a town of the Chu people in the Warring States ( 475-221 B.C.) and of the Wu people during the Three Kingdoms ( 228-265 A.D.)

4. Luo’s rippling waves: River Luo in central China;


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) (""{Go back to the mountains! But where are they?/It’s more than a thousand miles back to Min and E Mei./I’m half-a-hundred now, my days are numbered./I’ve already stayed here past two leap years./My children all speak your lingo, sing your songs, too./Friends in from the hills, with chickens, pigs, sacrificial wine,/Tempt me to grow old out at Dong-po. //As I take my leave what can I say?/In life, things fly by like the shuttle in the loom./I’ll watch the autumn wind’s waves on the Luo River in days to come./Who’ll take care of my slender willows at Snow Hall?/If you remember me, don’t cut their delicate branches down./Tell my old fishing buddies, too, on the south side of the River,/To air-out my straw rain cape for me, and do it often...")

2. painting from知乎);


bottom of page