Translation:Preface to the Poems Composed at the Orchid Pavilion

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Preface to the Poems Composed at the Orchid Pavilion
by Wang Xizhi, translated from Chinese by Wikisource
LantingXu.jpg
Original Pinyin Translation
lán tíng jí xù Preface to the Poems Composed at the Orchid Pavilion
() Wáng Xīzhī (by Wang Xizhi)
永和 Yǒnghé jiǔ nián It is the ninth year of Emperor Mu of Jin's Yonghe era (20 Feb 353 - 8 Feb 354),
suì zài guǐ chǒu The year of the Yin Water Ox,
暮春 mùchūn zhī chū At the beginning of the third lunar month (after April 20, 353),
會稽山陰 huì yú Guìjī Shānyīn zhī lán tíng We are all gathered at the orchid pavilion in Shanyin County, Guiji Commandery,
脩禊 xiūxì shì yě For the Spring Purification Festival.
qún xián bì zhì All of the prominent people have arrived,
shào zhǎng xián jí From old to young.
此地崇山峻領 cǐdì yǒu chóngshānjùnlǐng This is an area of high mountains and lofty peaks,
茂林修竹 màolínxiūzhú With an exuberant growth of trees and bamboos,
清流 yòu yǒu qīngliú jī tuān It also has clear rushing water,
左右 yìng dài zuǒyòu Reflecting the sunlight as it flows past either side of the pavilion.
流觴曲水列坐其次 yǐn yǐ wéi liú shāng qū shuǐ, lièzuò qícì The guests are seated side by side to play the drinking game where a wine cup is floated down the stream and the first person sitting in front of the cup when it stops must drink.
絲竹管弦 suī wú sīzhú guǎnxián zhī shèng Although we lack the boisterousness of a live orchestra,
足以暢敘幽情 yī shāng yī yǒng, yì zúyǐ chàngxù yōuqíng With a cup of wine here and a reciting of poetry there, it is sufficient to allow for a pleasant exchange of cordial conversations.
shì rì yě, tiān lǎng qì qīng Today, the sky is bright and the air is clear,
惠風和暢宇宙 huìfēnghéchàng, yǎng guān yǔzhòu zhī dà With a gentle breeze that is blowing freely. When looking up, one can see the vastness of the heavens,
所以騁懷 fǔ chá pǐn lèi zhī shèng, suǒyǐ yóu mù chěnghuái And when looking down, one can observe the abundance of things. The contentment of allowing one’s eyes to wander,
足以視聽 zúyǐ jí shìtīng zhī yú, xìn kě lè yě Is enough to reach the heights of delight for the sight and sound. What a joy.
相與俯仰 fú rén zhī xiāngyǔ fǔyǎng yī shì Now all people live in this world together,
懷抱 huò qǔ zhū huáibào, wù yán yī shì zhī nèi Some will take all of their aspirations, and share them in private with a friend;
放浪形骸 huò yīn jì suǒ tuō, fànglàngxínghái zhī wài Still others will abandon themselves to reckless pursuits.
趣舍不同 suī qǔshě wàn shū, jìng zào bùtóng Even though everyone makes different choices in life, some thoughtful and some rash,
dāng qí xīn yú suǒ yù, zàn dé yú jǐ When a person meets with joy, he will temporarily be pleased,
自足不知 kuài rán zìzú, bùzhī lǎo zhī jiāng zhì And will feel content, but he is not mindful that old age will soon overtake him.
jí qí suǒ zhī jì juàn, qíng suí shì qiān Wait until that person becomes weary, or has a change of heart about something,
感慨 gǎnkǎi xì zhī yǐ And will thus be filled with regrets.
俛仰 xiàng zhī suǒ xīn, fǔyǎng zhī jiān The happiness of the past, in the blink of an eye,
不能不 yǐ wéi chén jī, yóu bùnéngbù yǐ zhī xìng huái Will have already become a distant memory, and this cannot but cause one to sigh;
kuàng xiū duǎn suí huà, zhōng qī yú jìn In any case, the length of a man’s life is determined by the Creator, and we will all turn to dust in the end.
古人﹕「。」 gǔrén yún: sǐ shēng yì dà yǐ The ancients have said, "Birth and Death are both momentous occasions."
豈不 qǐbù tòng zāi Isn’t that sad!
měi lǎn xí rén xìng gǎn zhī yóu Every time I consider the reasons for why the people of old had regrets,
未嘗 ruò hé yī qì, wèicháng bù lín wén jiē dào I am always moved to sadness by their writings,
不能 bùnéng yù zhī yú huái And I can not explain why I am saddened.
虛誕 gù zhī yī sǐ shēng wéi xūdàn I most certainly know that it is false and absurd to treat life and death as one and the same,
妄作 qí péng shāng wéi wàngzuò And it is equally absurd to think of dying at an old age as being the same as dying at a young age.
hòu zhī shì jīn, yì yóu jīn zhī shì xī When future generations look back to my time, it will probably be similar to how I now think of the past.
bēi fú! gù liè xù shí rén What a shame! Therefore, when I list out the people that were here,
lù qí suǒ shù, suī shì shū shì yì And record their musings, even though times and circumstances will change,
suǒ yǐ xìng huái, qí zhì yī yě As for the things that we regret, they are the same.
hòu zhī lǎn zhě, yì jiāng yǒu gǎn yú sī wén For the people who read this in future generations, perhaps you will likewise be moved by these words.

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