Friday, April 20, 2012

Du Fu’s “Admiring General Cao’s Horse Paintings” (300 Tang Poems #60)




Translation

Du Fu (712-770)
杜甫


At Official Wei Feng’s Home:
Admiring General Cao’s Horse Paintings

韋諷錄事宅
觀曹將軍畫馬圖


Ever since
the nation’s beginning,
of saddle horse painters,


國初
以來
畫鞍馬
the Prince of Jiangdu
was alone—
exquisitely subtle.


神妙
獨數
江都王
As General Cao
attained his fame
over the last thirty years


將軍
得名
三十載
the human world
can once again see
the essence of legendary horses.


人間
又見
真乘黃
He once painted
the former Emperor’s horse,
Shining White of Night,


曾貌
先帝
照夜白
that flew like crashing thunder
for ten days
over Dragon Pond.


龍池
十日
飛霹靂
For this, the Imperial Palace,
a plate of agate,
luxurious red—


內府
殷紅
瑪瑙盤
The Emperor’s concubine
summoned her servants
to bestow it to him.


婕妤
傳詔
才人索
The plate received,
General Cao
paid his respects and returned it.


盤賜
將軍
拜舞歸
The nobles chased him with gifts—
gentle, white silks,
delicate and elegant.


輕紈
細綺
相追飛
Aristocrats,
the gates of power,
sought to obtain his brush’s trace:


貴戚
權門
得筆跡
His art on folding screens
brought life and brilliance,
like an awakening.


~~


始覺
屏障
生光輝
In former days,
there was Emperor Taizong’s
horse, the Curling Fur.


昔日
太宗
拳毛騧
In recent times,
there was the Guo Family’s
horse, Lion Son Blossom.


近時
郭家
獅子花
Today’s
new painting
is of two horses—


今之
新圖
有二馬
Causing those who understand
to gasp repeatedly,
and admire long.


復令
識者
久歎嗟
Both these horses
are cavalry—
and each one could fight ten thousand.


此皆
騎戰
一敵萬
On the white silk,
a vast desert,
a storm of wind and sand.


縞素
漠漠
開風沙
The other
seven horses
are also unique,


其餘
七匹
亦殊絕
Distant like
wintry sky
that’s mixed of soot and snow.


迥若
寒空
雜煙雪
Frosted hooves
that leap and step
between the lengthy catalpa trees—


霜蹄
蹴踏
長楸間
Mounted officers
and their horsemen
form lines through the forest.


馬官
廝養
森成列
We may cherish
the nine horses
that strive with gods, the noble steeds.


可憐
九馬
爭神駿
Examining them—
pure, lofty,
deep and steady spirit.


顧視
清高
氣深穩
May I ask—
who are the painstaking souls
that love them?


借問
苦心
愛者誰
Now there is you,
Wei Feng,
and before there was Zhidun, the monk.


~~


後有
韋諷
前支盾
I recall the ancient
Emperor’s tour
of New Flourishing Palace


憶昔
巡幸
新豐宮
His emerald-green carriage
brushing heaven
as it came to the east


翠花
拂天
來向東
Galloping, stout,
gathered together—
thirty thousand horses,


騰驤
磊落
三萬匹
Every one of them
with muscles and tendons
like those of this painting.


皆與
此圖
筋骨同
Ever since
this offering,
the imperial line


自從
獻寶
朝河宗
Can no more
slay the dragons
in the river’s midst.


無復
射蛟
江水中
Sir, do you not perceive—


君不見
At the Mount of Golden Grain,
where Emperor Xuanzong is buried in front,
lined with pines and cedars;


金粟
堆前
松柏裡
The Dragon Emperor’s horses
are left and gone
and in the wind is but the chirp of of birds.


龍媒
去盡
鳥呼風

Notes:
1.  Poet Du Fu has composed 11 poems about horses, all are personalized and embedded with his ambition and innuendo. This poem is about the lofty quality of the horses and the human beings.
2.  This poem was written after Du witnessed two emperors’ death, so he’s gone through the twist and turns in the imperial history. Naturally, the poem reveals the vicissitudes of the times.


Original Chinese

Traditional
Simplified
Pronunciation



杜甫
杜甫
Dù fǔ
韋諷錄事宅觀曹將軍畫馬圖
韦讽录事宅观曹将军画马图
Wéi fěng lù shì zhái guān cáo jiāng jūn huà mǎ tú



國初以來畫鞍馬,
国初以来画鞍马,
Guó chū yǐ lái huà ān mǎ,
神妙獨數江都王。
神妙独数江都王。
Shén miào dú shù jiāng dū wáng.
將軍得名三十載,
将军得名三十载,
Jiāng jūn dé míng sān shí zǎi,
人間又見真乘黃。
人间又见真乘黄。
Rén jiān yòu jiàn zhēn chéng huáng.
曾貌先帝照夜白,
曾貌先帝照夜白,
Céng mào xiān dì zhào yè bái,
龍池十日飛霹靂,
龙池十日飞霹雳,
Lóng chí shí rì fēi pī lì,
內府殷紅瑪瑙盤,
内府殷红玛瑙盘,
Nèi fǔ yān hóng mǎ nǎo pán,
婕妤傳詔才人索。
婕妤传诏才人索。
Jié yú chuán zhào cái rén suǒ.
盤賜將軍拜舞歸,
盘赐将军拜舞归,
Pán cì jiāng jūn bài wǔ guī,
輕紈細綺相追飛;
轻纨细锟相追飞;
Qīng wán xì kūn xiāng zhuī fēi;
貴戚權門得筆跡,
贵戚权门得笔迹,
Guì qì quán mén dé bǐ jī,
始覺屏障生光輝。
始觉屏障生光辉。
Shǐ jué píng zhàng shēng guāng huī.
昔日太宗拳毛騧,
昔日太宗拳毛騧
Xī rì tài zōng quán máo guā
近時郭家獅子花。
近时郭家狮子花。
Jìn shí guō jiā shī zi huā.
今之新圖有二馬,
今之新图有二马,
Jīn zhī xīn tú yǒu èr mǎ,
復令識者久歎嗟,
复令识者久叹嗟,
Fù lìng shi zhě jiǔ tàn jiē,
此皆騎戰一敵萬,
此皆骑战一敌万,
Cǐ jiē qí zhàn yī dí wàn,
縞素漠漠開風沙。
缟素漠漠开风沙。
Gǎo sù mò mò kāi fēng shā.
其餘七匹亦殊絕,
其余七匹亦殊绝,
Qí yú qī pǐ yì shū jué,
迥若寒空雜煙雪;
迥笺寒空杂烟雪;
Jiǒng jiān hán kōng zá yān xuě;
霜蹄蹴踏長楸間,
霜蹄蹴踏长楸间,
Shuāng tí cù tà cháng qiū jiān,
馬官廝養森成列。
马官厮养森成列。
Mǎ guān sī yǎng sēn chéng liè.
可憐九馬爭神駿,
可怜九马争神骏,
Kě lián jiǔ mǎ zhēng shén jùn,
顧視清高氣深穩。
顾视清高气深稳。
Gù shì qīng gāo qì shēn wěn.
借問苦心愛者誰?
借问苦心爱者谁?
Jiè wèn kǔ xīn ài zhě shuí?
後有韋諷前支盾。
后有韦讽前支盾。
Hòu yǒu wéi fěng qián zhī dùn.
憶昔巡幸新豐宮,
忆昔巡幸新丰宫,
Yì xī xún xìng xīn fēng gōng,
翠花拂天來向東;
翠花拂天来向东;
Cuì huā fú tiān lái xiàng dōng;
騰驤磊落三萬匹,
腾骧磊落三万匹,
Téng xiāng lěi luò sān wàn pǐ,
皆與此圖筋骨同。
皆与此图筋骨同。
Jiē yǔ cǐ tú jīn gǔ tóng.
自從獻寶朝河宗,
自从献宝朝河宗,
Zì cóng xiàn bǎo cháo hé zōng,
無復射蛟江水中。
无复射蛟江水中。
Wú fù shè jiāo jiāng shuǐ zhōng.
君不見,
君不见,
Jūn bù jiàn,
金粟堆前松柏裡,
金粟堆前松柏里,
Jīn sù duī qián sōng bǎi lǐ,
龍媒去盡鳥呼風。
龙媒去尽鸟呼风。
Lóng méi qù jìn niǎo hū fēng.


Literal Notes

杜甫
Birchleaf-pear-tree Man= Du Fu (712-770)
韋諷錄事宅觀曹將軍畫馬圖
Soft-leather Satirize record/copy/write-down thing/affair/matter residence/dwelling/home/stay-at-a-home/hang-around-home watch/see/observe Cao/ministry-officials General Army paint/draw horse painting/picture
[Soft-leather Satirize= Wei Feng, an official in Chengdu], [record thing= Lushi, an official position]
[Cao General Army= General Cao, his ancestor was also a good painter in Sanguo Dynansty]


國初以來畫鞍馬,
Nation earlier/initial/beginning since/by-means-of/thereby come paint/draw saddle horse
[Nation earlier/initial= since the dynasty begins], [since come= since]
神妙獨數江都王。
Magic/spirit/god/supernatural wonderful/mysterious/subtle/exquisite only/alone/single count/number/fate River Capital king
[Magic wonderful = wonderous, marvelous], [River Capital king= Jiangdu Prince, Li Xu, he’s the nephew of the Emperor of the time. He’s also good at painting horses.]
將軍得名三十載,
General army get/obtain fame/famous/name/rank/title/position three ten year/load
[General army= general], [three ten= thirty]
人間又見真乘黃。
People/mankind/man among/between again/and/also see/observe/perceive/behold real/genuine ride/avail-oneself yellow
[people among = human world, earth], [ride yellow=a legendary horse]
曾貌先帝照夜白,
Once/previously/already/sign-of-past appearance/countenance former emperor Shine Night White
[appearance=portray, depict], [former emperor= Tang Xuanzong], [Shine Night White= it’s a horse that the Emperor used to ride.]
龍池十日飛霹靂,
Dragon/symbolic-of-emperor pond/moat/pool ten days fly/dart clap-of-thunder crashing-thunder
[clap-of-thunder thunder= thunder], [Metaphor: the legendary horses are like the flying dragons.]
內府殷紅瑪瑙盤,
Inner/inside/interior mansion/government dark/many/great/abundant/flourishing red/vermillion agate agate/cornelian plate/tray/dish
[Inner mansion/government= imperial palace], [red agate agate = cornelian / agate agate= agate]
婕妤傳詔才人索。
Good-looking beauty send/deliver/summon rescript/decree talent/ability people ask-for/demand/search/inqire
[Good-looking beauty= Jieyu, imperial concubine’s title], [talent people=Cairen, imperial concubine’s title]
[Note: It reveals the agate plate is precious.]
盤賜將軍拜舞歸,
Plate/tray/dish bestow/grant/give general army/troops salute/pay-respect/bow/kowtow dance/posture return/revert-to
[salute/pay-respect dance= it’s the ancient protocol for officials to pay respect to the emperor. It’s NOT a dance.]
輕紈細綺相追飛;
Light/gentle white-silk/fine-silk delicate/fine/slender/thin beautiful-silk/fine-thin-silk/elegant/beautiful each-other/mutual chase-after/follow/pursue fly/go-quickly/dart
[chase/follow fly= here means the noble and rich also chased after the General with gifts, in order to ask for his paintings. Please also refer to the next verse.]
貴戚權門得筆跡,
Noble/expensive/costly/valuable relative/be-related/sorrow power/authority family/gate/door/entrance/opening get/acquire/obtain pen/writing-brush mark/trace
[pen mark/trace= a person’s handwriting, here refers to the paintings]
始覺屏障生光輝。
Start/begin/then/only-then feel/wake-up-from-sleep/conscious folding-screen barrier/separate/barricade grow/birth/life/living light/brilliant/shine glory/brightness/luster/brilliance
[screen barrier= an artistic space divider/screen ancient Chinese use, a protective barrier]
昔日太宗拳毛騧,
Past/formerly/ancient day Highest Ancestor Curling/Fist Fur (Piebald/tan)-horse
[Highest Ancestor= Tang Taizong, one emperor]
[Curling Fur Piebald-horse= it’s the name of one of Tang Taizong’s favorite horses.]
近時郭家獅子花。
Recent/near/close time/season/age/era Guo Family Lion Son/Child Flower/Blossom
[Lion Son Flower= another imperial horse’s name, its fur is like a lion’s fur (the emperor once bestowed Guo Family with that horse)]
今之新圖有二馬,
Today/now ’s new painting have/there-are two horse
復令識者久歎嗟,
Again/return/repeatedly make/cause recognize/understand/know people long/long-time/grow-late gasp-in-admiration/sigh/admire sigh
[recognize people= (horse) expert], [gasp-in-admiration sigh= exclamation out of excitement]
此皆騎戰一敵萬,
These/this/in-this-case all/every/everybody ride-horseback/mount/cavalry soldier/war/fighting/battle one against/fight/enemy/foe/rival/resist wan(10-thousand)
[ride solider= calvary]
縞素漠漠開風沙。
(Plain/raw)-white-silk raw-silk vast/desert stretch/desert open/begin/initiate wind sand
[Note: It seems horses are running in the vast wind and sand on the white silk], [wind sand = sandstorm, sand blown by wind]
其餘七匹亦殊絕,
It/their leftover/remainder 7 classifier-for-horse also/too/likewise special/unique/unusual extinct
[It leftover=the rest, the others, apart from them]
迥若寒空雜煙雪;
Distant/far/separated/different as/if/supposing/similar cold/wintry/chilly sky mixed/various/blended smoke/soot/mist/vapor snow
[Note: Some horses are white, while some are black.]
霜蹄蹴踏長楸間,
Frost/crystallized hoof kick/stamp/tread-on/leap step-on long catalpa-tree/mallotus-japonicus/deciduous-tree among/between
馬官廝養森成列。
Horse officer manservant raise/support forest as/become/completed/finished lines/arrange-in-order
[manservant raise=Siyang, a title of horseman]
可憐九馬爭神駿,
Able-to/may/can/possibly treasure/cherish/pity/sympathize nine horses compete/dispute/fight/strive/contend lively/unusual/spirit/god/supernatural-being handsome/excellent-horse/noble-steed
[able-to treasury = pitiful, pathetic]
顧視清高氣深穩。
Look-back/look-at/look-after look-at/inspect/observe/see noble/virtuous/clear/pure/peaceful aloof/tall/elevated/lofty spirit/vital-breath
profound/deep/depth/far/very stable/firm/solid/steady
[look-at noble = noble and virtuous]
借問苦心愛者誰?
Excuse/pardon/make-pretext-of ask-about/inquire-after intense/painstaking/bitter/hardship/suffering heart/mind/soul love/be-fond-of/like people/that-which/those-who who?/whom?
[Excuse ask= may I ask… (Who truly loves these handsome horses?)], [intense heart = beloved]
後有韋諷前支盾。
Later/after there-is Wei Feng earlier/in-front/preceding Branch Shield
[Branch Shield=Zhidun, some versions say it’s Zhixun, a famous monk in Jin Dynasty who raises horses.]
憶昔巡幸新豐宮,
Memorize/recall/remember/reflect-upon past/formerly/ancient patrol fortunate/lucky/favor New Flourishing/Abundant Palace
[patrol fortunate= Emperor’s patrol]
[New Flourishing Palace= another name of Huaqing Palace]
翠花拂天來向東;
Emerald-green/jade-green flower/blossoms brush-away/shake-off sky/heaven come/return towards east
[Emerald-green flower= refers to the Emperor’s carriage, because it’s decorated with Kingfisher’s(the bird) feather.], [Note: Mt. Lishan is located in the east of the capital city, Chang’an.], [towards east = eastward]
騰驤磊落三萬匹,
Gallop/fly/run/prance prance/gallop-about-with-head-uplifted piled-up/pile-of-rocks-or-stones lag/fall/drop/behind three wan(10-thousand) horse-classifier
[uplifted piled-up = big and stout, big-hearted, open and honest], [piled-up lag behind= means a lot of]
皆與此圖筋骨同。
All/every/everybody with/and/for/give/grant this/these painting muscle/tendon bone/skeleton same/similar/together-with
[muscle bone = physique]
自從獻寶朝河宗,
Since/from/self from/by/since/through offer/present/show/display treasure/jewel/precious towards/dynasty/imperial-court/morning river/stream east/lineage/ancestry/ancestor/clan
[since from = ever since, since], [offer treasure = present a treasure], [Note: It quotes the history of Emperor Xuanzong’s death. He died shortly after receiving some offering.]
無復射蛟江水中。
No-longer/no/not again/return/repeatedly/restore/recover/repeat shoot/issue-forth/emit scaly-dragon-with-four-legs-able-to-control-rain-and-floods large-river water inside/in-the-midst-of/amidst
[large-river water = river waters], [Note: Since Emperor Xuanzong died, he couldn’t cruise anymore. ]
君不見,
Gentleman/Sir/you not see/perceive
金粟堆前松柏裡,
Gold Grain/millet pile/stack/heap/mass in-front/preceding pine-tree/fir-tree cypress/cedar in/among/inside/within/lining
[Gold Grain pile/stack= Mt.Jinsu(Gold Grain) in Shaanxi, where Xuanzong was buried.]
龍媒去盡鳥呼風。
Dragon/symbolic-of-emperor medium/intermediary/go-between leave/depart/go-away over/exhaust/use-up/deplete/to-the-limit/utmost bird cry-for/breathe-sigh/exhale/call/shout wind
[Note: Legend has it when the holy horse/steed appears, it’s the omen the dragon will arrive soon.]
[Meaning: All the good-breed horses were gone, only the birds were left in the forest, chirping.]


Notes and character tables prepared with the assistance of Liane Rui of Shanghai, China.

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