Bai Juyi: Oral History: Five Poems

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Oral History: Five Poems

读 史: 五 首
楚 怀 放 灵 均
国 政 亦 荒 淫。
彷 徨 未 忍 决
绕 泽 行 悲 吟。
汉 文 疑 贾 生
谪 置 湘 之 阴。
是 时 刑 方 措
此 去 难 为 心。
士 生 一 代 间
谁 不 有 浮 沉?
良 时 真 可 惜
乱 世 何 足 钦!
乃 知 泪 罗 恨
未 抵 长 沙 深。
Du Shi: Wu Shou

Chu huai fang ling jun
Guo zheng yi huang yin.
Pang huang wei ren jue
Rao ze hang bei yin.

Han wen yi gu sheng
Zhe zhi xiang zhi yin.
Shi shi xing fang cuo
Ci qu nan wei xin.

Shi sheng yi dai jian
Shei bu you fu chen?
Liang shi zhen ke xi
Luan shi he zu qin!
Nai zhi lei luo hen
Wei di chang sha shen.

 

Oral History: Five Poems

High government official Qu Yuan was exiled
The country’s politics then became more corrupt and debauched.
Walking to and fro, he did not want to endure a future of banishment
Passionately chanted and traveled around the swamplands.

Han Dynasty emperor also sent Gusheng away
Forced him to the Hunan dark shadows of obscurity.
This was the period of time when punishments were not corporal
Difficult for his heart-mind to simply go into exile.

Scholarly life depends upon the particular cycle in the dynasty
Whose destiny does not go up and down?
Times of peace and prosperity makes weak people who get banished
Times of trouble and hardship makes strong people who also get exiled.
Therefore, I know why Qu Yuan’s hate led him to enter the Mi River
Yet Gusheng’s death in the sands of Hunan may have been more tragic.

 

Notes:

Qu Yuan:  (ca. 340-278 BC) Noted for his patriotism and poetry, in particular the Songs of Chu anthology and the long poem Li Sao. He drowned himself in the Miluo River which created for him legendary status. The modern day Dragon Boat Festival emerged from the story that local villagers threw rice and splashed the river water with their paddles in order to scare the fish away from his body.

Gusheng: A Han Dynasty official remembered as a man of talent and virtue.

 

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