061 杜甫 – 丹青引贈曹霸將軍
061 DU Fu – Ode on Paintings to General Cao Ba
英文翻譯 / English Translation﹕
The general is a descendant of Cao Wu, the Lord of Wei,
But now you have been relegated to the status of a commoner of little means and ways.
Gone are the days of heroic vigour of your antecedents!
Yet there remain with you literary talent, certain elegance and grace.
At first he studied up on the calligraphic style of Lady Wei of Jin dynasty,
Only to realise you would never surpass what Wang Xizhi had achieved.
Then you turned to painting and lost yourself in it as years pass you by,
Meaning nothing more than floating clouds are worldly wealth and prestige.
During the Kaiyuan years you were often summoned into the palace,
You were graced many times and granted presence in the Southern Main Hall.
The painting of Great Statesmen in the Pavilion of Billowing Smoke had faded over time,
It came alive again with your creative and animated brush strokes.
Virtuous premiers were each adorned with a honour crest,
Fierce generals had by their waist giant bows and feathered arrows,
Even the hair and beards of honoured masters were vividly painted,
Bearing themselves ready for a challenge with courage in a glow.
The late Xuanzong had a heavenly steed, a stallion named Jade Flower,
Many artists have depicted it giving different renditions but none its verve recorded.
That day it was led along to the front steps to the Great Hall,
It stood tall by the gate, energetic and strong.
The late emperor ordered the general to portray it on a silk canvas,
Quietly you let your craftsmanship work its role;
Soon enlivened were the dragon of heaven,
Dashing through to make slight of all ordinary horses ever born.
This painting of Jade Flower hung by the emperor's couch,
A veracious comparison to its real self standing in front of the Hall;
His Majesty smilingly ordered for an award of gold,
Leaving stable officers and keepers feeling rather dejected and despondent.
The general had a disciple when he was young,
Who could also paint horses and their various appearance;
Yet he painted only their exterior but not their essence,
Delivering portrayals of thoroughbreds with withered spirit.
The general paints well expressing such imagination,
Occasionally you would also draw portraits for gentlemen;
In this day and age in the tumult of war you wander,
While on the road you'd draw for fellow wayfarers.
At the end of your tether you have come to suffer disdainful looks and cold shoulders,
There is perhaps no other artists quite as down and out as yourself;
It seems that when all the fame and reputation have faded,
There leaves the individual to entangle in poverty and distress.