Liu Zongyuan: Yuan Family Ghyll ~ 《袁家渴记》 柳宗元 with English Translations



《袁家渴记》 柳宗元


Yuan Family Ghyll
Liu Zongyuan

Ten li southwest of the Ran by boat are five fine sights, of which Brazier Lake is the best. West of the mouth of the Ran by land are eight or nine fine sights, of which the Western Hill is the best. Southeast of Chaoyang Cliff by boat to the River Wu are three fine sights, of which Yuan Family Ghyll is the best. These quiet scenes are the beauty spots of Yongzhou.
According to the local dialect, there is a special word, ghyll, for water-that-runs-in-the-opposite-direction-from-the-main-stream. Yuan Family Ghyll flows into Nanguan and Gaozhang in its upper reaches, and further down into Hundred Families Creek. Here you find twin islets, brooks, clear pools and shallows; and the ghyll winds past flat, dark rocks and towering, foam-white crags. Just as your boat seems to reach the end, a new vista opens up. There are small islands in the water covered with magnificent boulders and green foliage which remains luxuriant summer and winter alike. The caves on either side are strewn with white pebbles. The trees are mostly maple, cedar, nanmu, yellow box, oak, camphor-laurel or pumelo. The chief flowers are orchid and irises. And a stranger plant resembling acacia, except that it is a creeper, grows on all the rocks in the stream. When a wind blows down from the surrounding mountains, the great trees are buffeted and the flowers toss their heads in a flurry of crimson and green, scattering pungent fragrance. Waves eddy and whirl, and fill every cleft in the rocks, while the bayonet-leafed iris and orchid quiver and bend. Such is the pageant of the seasons, passing my powers of description.
Since the people of Yongzhou did not know of this place, after finding it I could not keep it to myself, but spread its fame abroad. The land through which it runs has belonged for generations to a family called Yuan, hence the name—Yuan Family Ghyll.

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