Shu Shi: The Towering Terrace ~ 《凌虚台记》 苏轼 with English Translations

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小编导读:《凌虚台记》是北宋文学家苏轼创作的一篇散文。这篇文章在记叙土台修建的经过,联系到古往今来的废兴成毁的历史,感叹人事万物的变化无常,指出不能稍有所得就“夸世而自足”,而应该去探求真正可以永久依靠的东西。反映了苏轼思想中对生活积极乐观和对理想执着追求的一面。

《凌虚台记》 苏轼

国于南山之下,宜若起居饮食与山接也。四方之山,莫高于终南;而都邑之丽山者,莫近于扶风。以至近求最高,其势必得。而太守之居,未尝知有山焉。虽非事之所以损益,而物理有不当然者。此凌虚之所为筑也。

方其未筑也,太守陈公,杖履逍遥于其下,见山之出于林木之上者,累累如人之旅行于墙外,而见其髻也,曰:“是必有异。”使工凿其前为方池,以其土筑台,高出于屋之檐而止。然后人之至于其上者,恍然不知台之高,而以为山之踊跃奋迅而出也。公曰:“是宜名凌虚。”以告其从事苏轼,而求文以为记。

轼复于公曰:“物之废兴成毁,不可得而知也。昔者荒草野田,霜露之所蒙翳,狐虺之所窜伏。方是时,岂知有凌虚台耶?废兴成毁,相寻于无穷,则台之复为荒草野田,皆不可知也。尝试与公登台而望,其东则秦穆之祈年、橐泉也,其南则汉武之长杨、五柞,而其北则隋之仁寿、唐之九成也。计其一时之盛,宏杰诡丽,坚固而不可动者,岂特百倍于台而已哉!然而数世之后,欲求其仿佛,而破瓦颓垣,无复存者,既已化为禾黍荆棘丘墟陇亩矣,而况于此台欤!夫台犹不足恃以长久,而况于人世之得丧、忽往而忽来者欤?而或者欲以夸世而自足,则过矣。盖世有足恃者,而不在乎台之存亡也。”

既已言于公,退而为之记。

The Towering Terrace
Shu Shi

At the foot of the Zhongnan Mountain, the daily lives of the city people seemed inseparable from the mountain. Of the mountains around the cities, none were as high as the Zhongnan mountain, and, of the cities nearby, none were as close to the Zhongnan Mountain as Fufeng County. Needless to say, Fufeng County, because of its close proximity to the Mountain, was the best place to view its summit. But the prefect did not know that the Mountain was there. Thought this oversight did not impact the prefect’s government affairs, it defied common sense. This was the reason why the Towering Terrace was built.

Before he constructed the Terrace, Prefect Chen used to stroll leisurely about the foot of the mountain, with a stick in hand. He noticed the mountain peaks rising one after another over the tops of the trees like knots of hair on the heads of passerby, as seen from within the walls of the courtyard. He noted, “There is something remarkable about this place.” He therefore ordered that a pond be dug, and with the excavated earth, he built a terrace that surrounded the very eaves of his estate. Then the visitors who ascended the Terrace were confounded at the height of the Terrace, thinking that they were standing on a hill newly sprung from a vigorously active mountain. With pride, Prefect Chen said, “It should be named the Towering Terrace.” and asked his subordinate Su Shi to write an account of its creation.

Su Shi replied, “It is beyond man’s ability to predict the rise and fall of the affairs in the world. This place used to be a wilderness choked with weeds, blanketed by frost and frequented by foxes and poisonous snakes. Who could then tell where would be a Towering Terrace? A rise is always followed by a fall, in an eternal cycle for balance. Thus no one can tell when the Towering Terrace will turn into wilderness again. I have ascended this Terrace with you, and have observed the landscape. To its east were the Qinian Palace and Tuoquan Palace of King Mu of the Qing Dynasty; to its south were Changyang Palace and the Wuzuo Palace of Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty; and to its north were the Renshou Palace of the Sui Dynasty and the Jiucheng Palace of the Tang Dynasty. In the prime of their prosperity, their magnificence, splendor and unshakable stability surpassed the Terrace by no less than a hundredfold. But in a few generations, it became impossible to imagine their former wonder, for even the broken tiles and rubble no longer existed. They were supplanted by crop-growing fields and thorny hills. What of this simple Terrace? We cannot even trust the Terrace to last forever, let alone human affairs! One’s life is marked by vicissitudes, drifting from gain to loss and from success to failure. It would be wrong to take pride in one’s good fortune, and be self-complacent, for there are many other things in the world which we may count on. Why should we mind the survival or extinction of a Terrace?”

After this talk with Prefect Chen, I went home and put it down in writing.

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