Liu Zongyuan: The Rocky Trough ~ 《石渠记》 柳宗元 with English Translations



《石渠记》 柳宗元


The Rocky Trough
Liu Zongyuan

Less than a hundred paces southwest from the ghyll, I found a rocky trough. A plank had been thrown across it. A spring bubbles out from the stones there, now gurgling merrily, now murmuring softly. This trough measures one to two feet across and about ten paces in length. The brook, coming to a great boulder, passes under it.
Crossing this boulder, I came to a grotto overgrown with sweet flags and with green moss all around.
There the brook turns west and dips sideway under a cliff, cascading northward into a little pool. This pool, less than a hundred feet around, is clear and deep and has many white fish in it.
Northward the brook winds on and on, as if it will never end, but finally enters the ghyll.
By the trough are fantastic rocks, gnarled trees, strange flowers, and graceful young bamboos. Several people can sit there at a time to rest. When the wind strikes the hill top, an echo is heard in the valley. The scene is tranquil, and sound travels far.
After acquiring this property from the prefect, I cleared the dead wood and leaves and made a bonfire of them, then removed some of the earth and stones from the trough so that the water should flow more freely. It seemed a pity that no record had been made of this place, so I wrote a detailed account and left it with the local people to inscribe on the south of the boulder. In this way, sightseers after us will find this spot easily.
On the eighth day of the first month of the seventh year of Yuan He, I cleared the way from the trough to the great boulder. But not till the nineteenth of the tenth month, when I crossed the boulder and found the grotto and pool, did I discover the full beauty of the trough.

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