The Mansion of Willowby Liu Dakui ~ 刘大魁·《游万柳堂记》 with English Translations

《游万柳堂记》 是清代文学大家刘大櫆创作的一篇游记散文。这篇散文第一段是叙述部分的前导,说明富贵人家修建林园别墅是没有什么意义的。中间两段是记叙,以精练的笔触叙写了三次游览万柳堂的情况。最后一段写万柳堂的变化,进一步引起作者的议论。这篇文章采用了夹叙夹议的写法,层次清楚,主题思想明确。






The Mansion of Willow

Liu Dakui

When people in the past became extremely exalted and rich, they would build garden villas for their pleasure, exhausting all the superb workmanship of the building craft, sparing nothing within their reach. But after the completion of the villas, they could not afford to live there long and came only once in a while. Some were unable to come all their lives. Yet those who had lived long at the place had not the means to build them. As for the good ministers occupied with state affairs, they certainly had no time for them. So it was only the base and mean who wanted them to overwhelm the ignoramuses among their townsmen with such a vanity.

Prime Minister Feng of Linqu, a man who had neither merits nor demerits when he was at court, built a garden mansion at the southeast corner of the capital, with a total area of thirty mu. It was planted, according to the configuration of the ground, with willows unmixed with any other trees, and the mansion was named the Mansion of Willow. The garden could be seen by riding travelers over the parapets. It had twisted and deep lanes as well as a pond laid in a depression and knolls made out of excavated earth. The pond, surrounded with weeds, looked lovely because of the dim reflection of clouds in the water.

Not long after I had come to the capital at the beginning of the Yongzhen period, the frequent excursionists all told me about the scenic splendour of the place. When I first visited it, a few arbours and pavilions still stood there. At the second time, the bridge previously spanning the pond lay slanting in the water, while at the third time, the planted willows were all cut down, without a single survival.

The glory imparted by wealth and honour in one’s life is enhanced and eclipsed with time, which is well-nigh the same with this garden. If a gentleman has gained some insight into this fact, he had better now envy it. As for those who are swamped with wealth and honour, they are simply best with ensuring worries. Such being the case, what need is there for them to suck the blood of the people for the sake of building magnificent garden mansions?

(谢百魁 译)

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