Wang Wei: Two Allegorical Poems: No. 1

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Two Allegorical Poems: No. 1

(1)
寓 言 二 首
朱 绂 谁 家 子
无 乃 金 张 孙?
骊 驹 从 白 马
出 人 铜 龙 门。
问 尔 何 功 德
多 承 明 主 恩?
斗 鸡 平 乐 馆
射 雉 上 林 园。
曲 陌 车 骑 盛
高 堂 珠 翠 繁。
奈 何 轩 冕 贵
不 与 布 衣 言!
Yu Yan Er Shou

(1)

Zhu fu shei jia zi
Wu nai jin zhang sun?
Li ju cong bai ma
Chu ru tong long men.

Wen er he gong de
Duo cheng ming zhu en ?
Dou ji ping le guan
She zhi shang lin yuan.

Qu mo che qi sheng
Gao tang zhu cui fan.
Nai he xuan mian gui
Bu yu bu yi yan !

 

Two Allegorical Poems: No. 1

(1)

Who wears this bright red embroidered sash
Probably a grandson of a family like the Jin or Zhang?
Pure black colts with his white horse
Go out, then enter through copper-dragon door handles.

Ask him, what merits and virtues
Have indebted this Ming emperor to grant these favors.
Given an area for cockfighting and gambling
Shoot pheasants in the Shang forest park.

Long, undulating line of carts
Tall rooms with numerous concubines and singing ladies.
It’s hopeless thinking that curtained carriages and precious mian
Could give a single word to ones wearing cotton clothes.

 

Notes:

Red embroidered sash: Literally a silk ribbon, used to affix an embroidered seal for those wearing special clothes when calling upon the emperor.

Jin or Zhang: Families from the Han dynasty. One of the Jin was a close, personal attendant of the emperor, and Zhang was a famous and powerful general. Together they made up the privy council, both during and after the emperor’s life.

White horse: Black horses ridden by the servants, white ones by the masters.

Copper-dragon door handles: A door to the Imperial Palace.

Ming emperor: Ming, not of the dynasty, but of congming (intelligent). Here Wang Wei used sarcasm to criticize this man, whose ancestors may have performed some worthy deeds for the emperor, but now this descendant is much less than worthy of imperial favors.

Shang forest park: Like a palace hunting preserve, where hunting success was guaranteed.

Precious mian: A traditional crown or coronet received from the emperor.

Wearing cotton clothes: Living a plain and simple life.

 

Commentary:

Some things never seem to change.

 

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