Yu Xuanji: Clearing My Mind ~ 鱼玄机·《遣怀》 with English Translations











Clearing My Mind

Yu Xuanji

At leisure, free, no duty mine,

I roam the landscape alone:

cutting through the clouds, there shines,

over the river, the moon;

throwing off its moorings,

a boat sails on the sea.

Playing the lute, reciting verse,

groves of bamboo for company,

the rocks are my companions.

To those of humble estate,

honor is simply unreal;

for those without ambition,

money has not appeal.

Filling the goblet, spring wine’s green;

beneath the moon, night music’s serene.

Beyond the flagstone walk

is a pond that’s crystal clear;

in its gentle flow

I see my unkempt hair.

Lying down in my bed,

I find it littered with books,

Though wine has made me

light of head,

I rise and comb my locks.

(Bannie Chow, Thomas Cleary 译)

Telling My Feelings

Yu Xuanji

Idle, at ease with nothing that I must attend to,

I travel alone through the sweep of the scenery.

Through broken clouds, moonlight shines on the river;

Its moorings unfastened, a boat on the sea.

I play my zither by Xiao-Liang Temple

And sing a poem at Yuliang Tower.(1)

Thickets of bamboo are worthy to be friends,

And pieces of rock serve well as companions.

Swallows and sparrows alone I consider noble,

For gold and silver are not my aim.

I fill a goblet with green spring wine,(2)

Face the moon night windows hidden.

Winding steps clear in the transparent water,

I pull out my hairpin it shines in the rippling current.

I lie on the bed, my books spread everywhere,

And then, half-drunk, I rise and comb my hair.

(1). Because Emperor Wu of the Liang Dynasty, whose family name was Xiao, was the greatest early patron of Buddhism in China, Xiao-Liang Temple was a generic name for Buddhist places of worship. Yuliang Tower is the South Tower in Wuchang, Hubei.

(2). Rustic unfiltered wine was greenish in color.

(Jennifer Carpenter 译)

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