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定风波.莫听穿林打叶声 Barely I hear the rains


( 三月七日,沙湖道中遇雨。雨具先去,同行皆狼狈,余独不觉。已而遂晴,故作此词。)

原作:苏轼( 11th Century)














Barely, I hear the rains

- to the tune “ Pacify the Turmoil”

(on 7 March, we encountered stormy weather on our way to Sand Lake. Unfortunately our rain gear were taken before us, so we were all soaking wet. Everyone else felt out of place except me. The sky cleared a moment later when I wrote this ci poem.)

Written by: Su Shi ( 11th AC)

English trans. by: Gordon Osing & Julia Min (1990)

Revision by: Julia Min (2022)

Barely, I hear the rains

invading the woods, lashing the leaves…

You can’t have all these

bugging your reciting of poems, walking in ease.

Straw shoes and a bamboo stick,

have been doing just great as one on steed.

Who cares!

One straw raincape is all you need

for a lifetime’s beating rains and thick mist …

A crisp wind wakes me,

to a chilly spring from a cosy wine dream.

But then, on a crest,

some angling beams of a sunset greeting me!

Looking back at the road taken,

where the rains rattled the trees,

I fear no difference.

It’s just a tempest in a cup of tea, -

no storm in the forest, no wind from the east.


This ci, too, dates from march of 1082. Dongpo and his friends were on their way to Sand Lake when the storm suddenly came sweeping the terrain. He saw it, as his banishment to this town, too shall pass. The ci tune is well chosen to express his strong courage gained after a deeper philosophical understanding of his reality. ‘steed’ here implies his previous success in the Royal Court while the bamboo stick, the straw shoes and raincape are associated with the ordinary life of common people.

The English translation is restructured for the more dynamic, free and brave spirit captured under the lines in this revised version. “the road taken” is used here for an association with the poem by Robert Frost The Road Not Taken (1915). “ tempest in a cup of tea” comes from the English proverb: a storm/ tempest in a teacup. “ wind from the east” is the general wind direction in spring season.


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)("Barely, I hear the rains invading the woods, lashing the leaves…/I can’t have it bothering my reciting of poems, walking in ease./Straw shoes and a bamboo stick are lighter than horseback,/ Why fear one straw raincape in the smoke of a lifetime’s rains? //A crisp Spring wind clears out the wine, but leaves me chilled. /Then, on a crest, angling rays of a sunset greeting me!/Looking back at my path, where the rainstorm rattled the trees,/I fear no changes, no storm in the forest, nor clarities.")

2. Picture from 简书 )



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