Su Shi: A Note Written at Night in Tanchow ~ with English Translations


《儋耳夜书》 苏轼


A Note Written at Night in Tanchow
Su Shi

This is January 15, 1099, the Festival of Shangyuan. I am living at Tanchow. Several old scholars have come to visit me. They said, “Master, can you come out for a stroll? There is such a beautiful moon and the night is so calm.” Happily I accepted the suggestion and we all went out to the western part of the town and entered a temple. We passed through small alleys filled with the Chinese and the tribesmen. There was quiet a crowd at the wine shops. By the time we returned, it was already midnight, and the servants were snoring in their sleep. Thinking that fortune and adversity were all the same, I laid my cane behind the door and laughed. “What are you laughing at, Master?” the scholars asked. “I was laughing at myself and at Han Yu,” I replied. “Han Yu was once fishing. He could not catch any fish, and thought he could catch them by going to another place. He did not know that by going to the sea, one does not necessarily catch big fish!”

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