069 韓愈 – 石鼓歌
069 HAN Yu – Ode to the Stone Drum Inscriptions
英文翻譯 / English Translation﹕
Zhang Ji had in his hand a copy of the Stone Drum inscriptions,
He urged me to try and write an ode to the inscribed stone drums.
Poets like Du Fu of Shaoling and Li Bai of transcendent genius had died,
How could I his request comply when I am not talented enough?
Failure to adhere to law and discipline caused Zhou dynasty's to suffer civil unrest,
Emperor Xuan exerted himself and led an battle to bring about a restoration;
Assembled in a grand hall he accepted the congratulations of the lords,
Where swords and jades by their waist clattered as they with each other shoulders rubbed.
Out on an autumn hunt on the sunny side of Mount Chi he showed his omnipotence,
Capturing every bird and beast over tens of thousands of square fathoms.
Recording officers made notes of his greatness to history pass on,
And chiselled drums out of rocks by smoothing away all corners and roughness.
His courtiers had first-rate talent and skills,
Prudently they selected a number of pieces to leave there in the mountains.
Though these stone drums have suffered the elements of weather and wild fire,
They have been protected and looked after by spirits and souls sedulously.
My friend, from where did you obtain a copy of these inscriptions?
The script appear intact and without smudges.
The phrases and sentences are strictly worded and profound,
The script is neither clerical nor archetypical.
Since the inscriptions are of great antiquity, could they be lacking in brush strokes?
Vigorous are the strokes, like swift sword movements that could dragons slash asunder.
Some strokes seem like phoenixes fluttering in the wind carrying heavenly gods,
Or like green coral branches with sprigs and sprays that interlock.
Some seem to have the strength of golden strings and iron wires, tightly intertwined,
Or like an ancient tripod aplomb in the water over which a dragon shuttles.
Submissive scholars did not include these inscriptions into the Book of Songs,
The two Refined Texts are scanty in their collections, rendering them rather unsubstantial.
When Confucius toured towards the west, he never made it as far as Qin,
His collection of texts was like that of celestial bodies but without the moon and the sun.
For I am an admirer of antiquities, it is my regret that I was born ages to late,
Seeing a rubbing of these inscriptions makes my tears pour and run.
I remember the days when I was just bestowed a doctorate and professorship,
That was also the year we the Yuanhe era entered upon.
I have a friend who is a major in the army,
He made arrangements to excavate sites for these stone drums.
So I gave myself an ablution and prepared for a ceremony,
I reminded them, there couldn't be many of them extant, could there?
They should have any uncovered wrapped in felt mats,
Then they should be able to haul the ten drums here on camel-back.
They should be consecrated in the Great Shrine like the tripods from the Gao region,
Their worth would be beyond a hundredfold the labour and tug.
If our emperor could allow them to be kept in the Great Academy,
Then all pupils could participate in discussions to the inscriptions study.
The Han script was regularised on a stele erected by the Grand City Gate for all to see,
Many came from all over travelling great distances to transcribe and take a rubbing.
After gouging out and picking off the mosses to reveal the edges and turns of the strokes,
They should be placed in a secure environment protected from harm and roughness.
Under a mansion of extensive coverage and wide overhanging eaves,
The artefacts would be able to ages survive without enduring sufferings.
The dignitaries of our court are experienced officers at work,
Why couldn't they weigh in on this matter to indecision resolve?
The drums were left behind for shepherd boys to fire strike and bulls their horns sharpen,
Who would be there to heritage hold on to and culture cultivate?
By and by, with the setting of the sun and waning of the moon they'd suffer neglect,
For the past six years this matter in the west has occupied my mind, yet all is in vain,
Not concerned with accuracy, Wang Xizhi used to sell his elegant writing,
It would only take a few sheets of his scrawl in exchange for white geese that he loved.
After Zhou, there have been eight dynasties of chaos and warring,
Without someone to the society set straight, orderliness could only stumble.
Nowadays in quiet times, peace reigns,
Followers of the revered Confucianism are praising Kong Qiu and Meng Ke,
How could I ever make them see the merit of my recommendation?
How I wished I could rely on their eloquence to support my suggestion.
My ode to the Stone Drum Inscriptions comes to an end on this note,
Aye, my idea and ideal could only idle way in my consciousness.