Liu Zongyuan: The Mountain of the Little Rock City ~ 《小石城山记》 柳宗元 with English Translations

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小编导读:《小石城山记》是唐代文学家柳宗元于唐宪宗元和元年(806年)被贬到永州担任司马后游行而作,是《永州八记》最后一篇。作者先详细描绘了小石城山的形状、布局,突出其酷似石城。赞叹山石树木的疏密仰伏,好像高明者有意设计、布置的,然后自然转入关于“造物主之有无”这一重大哲学命题的议论。作者用欲擒先纵的笔法,批判了唯心主义的天命论,发泄了自己屈遭贬谪,横受压抑的不平。

《小石城山记》 柳宗元

自西山道口径北,逾黄茅岭而下,有二道:其一西出,寻之无所得;其一少北而东,不过四十丈,土断而川分,有积石横当其垠。其上为睥睨梁欐之形,其旁出堡坞,有若门焉。窥之正黑,投以小石,洞然有水声,其响之激越,良久乃已。环之可上,望甚远,无土壤而生嘉树美箭,益奇而坚,其疏数偃仰,类智者所施设也。

噫!吾疑造物者之有无久矣。及是,愈以为诚有。又怪其不为之中州,而列是夷狄,更千百年不得一售其伎,是固劳而无用。神者倘不宜如是,则其果无乎?或曰:“以慰夫贤而辱于此者。”或曰:“其气之灵,不为伟人,而独为是物,故楚之南少人而多石。”是二者,余未信之。

The Mountain of the Little Rock City
Liu Zongyuan

Heading directly northward from the mountain pass at the western mountain and going downhill after crossing Huangmao Hill, you will come to two mountain paths. One path leads westward and there is not much to see. The other path turns a little northward and then eastward, but forty zhang further, the path ends, as it is cut into halves by a river. Standing along the bank of the river is a hill of rocks. On it some rocks are piled like the parapets of a city wall, and some like beams. Beside them protrudes a rock in the shape of a fort, on which there is a door-like cave. The cave is dark inside, and should you throw a stone in it, you will clearly hear a “dong, dong” sound, which reverberates for a long while. Go up round the fort and you can reach the hill-top, where you can see into the distance. There is no soil, but this makes the beautiful trees and arrow bamboos growing on it look all the more unusual and sturdy. They are well spaced and their heights vary in an appropriate way as if their placement were designed by a clever man.

Ah! I have long been skeptical about the existence of God. Now I cannot help but believe that there is a God. But I am puzzled as to why God did not set this beautiful scenery in the prosperous midland, choosing instead this remote seclude place where its beauty has been concealed from human appraisal for thousands of years and wasted. God would not have done such a silly thing. Is there a God then? Some would say, “God did this in order to comfort those virtuous people who are exiled here.” Others say, “The spirit of ingenuity did not breed great men, but created this scenery of peculiar charm instead. This is why in the south of the Kingdom of Chu there is a scarcity of virtuous and talented men but an abundance of rocks.” I doubt the truth in either of these sayings.

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