Yuan Jie: The Right-hand Stream ~ 元结·《右溪记》 with English Translations






The Right-hand Stream

Yuan Jie

A hundred or so paces west of the seat of Tao Prefecture1 is a small stream. It flows south for tens of paces and then joins Ying Stream.2 The water strikes against the banks, which are formed by odd-shaped rocks. Jumbled and tilting, they wind along and jut in and out—the scene defies description. When the clear current collides with these rocks, it swirls, surges, becomes excited, and rushes forward. Fine trees and unusual bamboo cast their shadows, covering one another.

If this stream were located in a mountainous wilderness, it would be a suitable spot for eremites and gentlemen out of office to visit. Were it located in a populated place, it could serve as a scenic spot in a city, with a pavilion in a grove for those seeking tranquility. And yet, no one has appreciated it as long as this prefecture has been in existence. As I wound my way upstream, I felt quite sorry for it. So I had it dredged of weeds in order to build a pavilion and a house. I planted pines and cassia trees, adding fragrant plants among them to augment the scenery.

Because the stream is to the right of the city, I named it “The Right-hand Stream” and had a ming inscription carved on one of the rocks to explain this to all who come by. 3

1. Tao Prefecture roughly corresponded to modern Tao District, Hu-nan.

2. Ying Stream (Ying-hsi) originates in the south of modern Ning yuan, Hu-nan, and eventually flows into the Hsiang River in Ling-ling.

3. Translated from Yüan Chieh, Yüan Tz’u-shan chi 9:5b (SPPY ed.). The ming inscription mentioned has not survived.

(Richard E. Strassberg 译)

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