Li Mi: Memorial to the Emperor Stating My Case ~ 李密 《陈情表》 with English Translations

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小编导读:《陈情表》为西晋李密写给晋武帝的奏章。文章叙述祖母抚育自己的大恩,以及自己应该报养祖母的大义;除了感谢朝廷的知遇之恩以外,又倾诉自己不能从命的苦衷,真情流露,委婉畅达。该文被认定为中国文学史上抒情文的代表作之一,有“读诸葛亮《出师表》不流泪不忠,读李密《陈情表》不流泪者不孝”的说法。

李密 《陈情表》

臣密言:臣以险衅,夙遭闵凶。生孩六月,慈父见背。行年四岁,舅夺母志。祖母刘,愍臣孤弱,躬亲抚养。臣少多疾病,九岁不行,零丁孤苦,至于成立。既无叔伯,终鲜兄弟。门衰祚薄,晚有儿息。外无期功强近之亲,内无应门五尺之童,茕茕孑立,形影相吊。而刘夙婴疾病,常在床蓐。臣侍汤药,未尝废离。

逮奉圣朝,沐浴清化。前太守臣逵,察臣孝廉。后刺史臣荣,举臣秀才。臣以供养无主,辞不赴命。诏书特下,拜臣郎中,寻蒙国恩,除臣洗马。猥以微贱,当侍东宫,非臣陨首所能上报。臣具以表闻,辞不就职。诏书切峻,责臣逋慢,郡县逼迫,催臣上道。州司临门,急於星火。臣欲奉诏奔驰,则以刘病日笃,欲苟顺私情,则告诉不许。臣之进退,实为狼狈。

伏惟圣朝以孝治天下,凡在故老,犹蒙矜育。况臣孤苦,特为尤甚。且臣少事伪朝,历职郎署,本图宦达,不矜名节。今臣亡国贱俘,至微至陋,过蒙拔擢,宠命优渥,岂敢盘桓,有所希冀?但以刘日薄西山,气息奄奄,人命危浅,朝不虑夕。臣无祖母,无以至今日;祖母无臣,无以终余年。母孙二人,更相为命,是以区区不能废远。臣密今年四十有四,祖母刘今年九十有六,是臣尽节于陛下之日长,报刘之日短也。乌鸟私情,愿乞终养。

臣之辛苦,非独蜀之人士及二州牧伯所见明知,皇天后土,实所共鉴。愿陛下矜愍愚诚,听臣微志。庶刘侥幸,卒保馀年。臣生当陨首,死当结草。臣不胜犬马怖惧之情,谨拜表以闻。

Memorial to the Emperor Stating My Case
Li Mi

I, your humble subject Li Mi, have this to say: As ordained by myuntoward lot, misfortune befell me in my early childhood. Six months after mybirth, my kind father died. When I was four my mother was deprived of her willto remain in widowhood by my maternal uncle. Grandmother Liu, taking pity on myfeebleness and helplessness, brought me up all by herself. I used to beafflicted with illnesses and was unable to walk even at the age of nine, livingin loneliness and misery until I reached manhood. As I had neither paternaluncles nor brothers to render me help, I was placed in straitenedcircumstances, with no good luck ever smiling upon me, and it was not untilvery late that I begot a son. There being no close relatives outside thefamily, or a boy to answer the door in the home, I spent my days in completesolitude, with my body solaced only by my shadow. As Grandmother had long beenlaid up with sickness, I had to tend her, serving her decoctions, and neverleft her uncared for even for a single day.

With the advent of Your Majesty’s holy rein, I have basked in yourbright and serene edifying influence. Previously, Magistrate Kui recommended meto the post of Xiaolian, later Prefect Rong charged me with the official dutyof Xiucai, but I was obliged to decline all these favours, as no one else couldtake care of Grandmother. Then Your Majesty’s edict was issued expressly,assigning me to the position of Langzhong and before long I was graciouslyappointed by Your Majesty as a royal attendant. Being so humble in origin, Iought to have gladly waited upon His Highness the Prince, for I can never repayyour kindness sufficiently even if I lay down my life. Nevertheless, Irepresented my case in full and did not go to assume the office. Thus theensuing edicts were couched in stringent terms, condemning me for my boldprocrastination, while the country officials pressed me hard, urging me toleave at once. In addition, the prefecture functionaries came to my home,demanding my hasty departure. Although I wish to act in obedience to your edictwithout a moment’s delay, yet, seeing Grandmother’s disease aggravated from dayto day, I could not help following my instinctive feelings to stay on, whichwas, as I was informed, not to be allowed. My situation is indeed very awkward.

But in my humble view, Your Majesty’s holy reign is based upon thepractice of filial piety, and the veteran or aged people are treated with morecompassion and care. As I am so helpless and miserable, I expect to be givenspecial consideration. Besides, I served in my youth the puppet regime at mypost in its central government. Originally I courted an exalted official rank,not quite concerned about reputation and integrity. Being a base captive takenfrom a fallen state, I am extremely insignificant and worthless. Now that Ihave had the fortune to be favoured with undue advancement, how can I presumeto hesitate and expect more? But Grandmother in her fast declining days isbreathing her last and is in momentary danger of death. But for Grandmother, Iwould not have survived, whereas without my help she cannot end her life inpeace. We too have been so strongly attached to each other in our commonexistence that for our sincere mutual affection I simply cannot be separatedfrom her, leaving her in the lurch. Now I am forty four and Grandmother isninety six. So the days are long in which I shall be able to devote myself toserving Your Majesty, whereas the time is short in which I can repayGrandmother’s kindness. This instinctive feeling of mine like that of a youngcrow feeding its mother to reciprocate her love caused me to beseech you toallow me to look after her to the last. My difficulties are not only evident tothe gentry of Shu and the magistrates of the two prefectures, but can also bewitnessed by the gods of heaven and earth. I wish that Your Majesty would takepity on my stupid and sincere heart and grant my humble wish, so thatGrandmother would have the luck to spin out her remaining life. I vow that Iwill return your royal grace living or dead.

I cannot help an awestruck feeling as I am writing to Your Majestythis petition.

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