Monday, April 23, 2012

Cen Shen’s “To Advisor Du Fu of the Left Ministry” (300 Tang Poems #99)




Translation

Cen Shen (715-770)

岑參
To Advisor Du Fu of the Left Ministry
寄左省杜拾遺


We walk together
to the red imperial throne,

聯步
趨丹陛
but there we’re divided,
advisors bound by a screen
like the constellation, Purple Forbidden Enclosure.

分曹
限紫微
Following the rising day,
we enter battle at court;

曉隨
天仗入
and as evening spurs
imperial incense, we return.

暮惹
御香歸
Graying hair,
sad flowers falling...

白髮
悲花落
Clouds in a clear sky,
we envy flying birds.

青雲
羨鳥飛
This dynasty
lacks palace work;

聖朝
無闕事
and awareness,
self-rebuke is rare.

自覺
諫書稀

Notes:
1.  Du Fu recommended the poet, Cen Shen, to the emperor for an advisor position. Cen wrote this poem the next year. 
2.  The latter part of the poem: Cen was 44 years-old and Du was 47 years-old  that year. Cen’s position was fairly junior, and Du’s rank was slightly higher. So it was a complaint to see other people promoted to important posts.


Original Chinese

Traditional
Simplified
Pronunciation



岑參
岑参
Cén Shēn
寄左省杜拾遺
寄左省杜拾遗
Jì zuǒ shěng dù shí yí



聯步趨丹陛,
联步趋丹陛,
Lián bù qū dān bì,
分曹限紫微。
分曹限紫微。
Fēn cáo xiàn zǐ wēi.
曉隨天仗入,
晓随天仗入,
Xiǎo suí tiān zhàng rù,
暮惹御香歸。
暮惹御香归。
Mù rě yù xiāng guī.
白髮悲花落,
白发悲花落,
Bái fà bēi huā luò,
青雲羨鳥飛。
青云羡鸟飞。
Qīng yún xiàn niǎo fēi.
聖朝無闕事,
圣朝无阙事,
Shèng cháo wú quē shì,
自覺諫書稀。
自觉谏书稀。
Zì jué jiàn shū xī.


Literal Notes

岑參
Small-hill/steep Ginseng=Cen Shen(715 - 770)
寄左省杜拾遺
To-send/mail/entrust Left Ministry/province Du/ birchleaf-pear-tree Pick-up Lost-property

[Left Ministry/province= refers to Menxia Department, the top advisory bureau and the general office. It’s located in the left of the main palace. Thus, also called the Left Department.], [Du= the famous poet, Du Fu]
[Pick-up Lost-property= Shiyi, is a middle-rank advisor position. Also means “expropriate others’ property.”]
聯步趨丹陛,
To-ally/join/unite/associate/connection step/pace/walk/stroll/march approach/tend-towards/hasten/walk-fast/hurry/attracted-to red/cinnabar/vermillion steps-to-the-throne/throne
分曹限紫微。
Separate/divide/allocate class/grade/government-department/ministry-officials limit/bound/border/boundary Purple Miniature
[Separate/divide/allocate class/grade/government-department= the poet, Cen Shen was serving in the Zhongshu Dept., which was also called the Right Dept.], [Purple Miniature= Ziwei, a Chinese constellation’s name. The shape is like a screen. So it is a metaphor to describe there’s a partition between the two poets when standing in the imperial court.]
曉隨天仗入,
Dawn/daybreak follow/comply-with/listen-to day/heaven/sky Weaponry/war/fight enter/go-into/join
[day/heaven/sky Weaponry=the emperor’s weaponry]
暮惹御香歸。
Evening/sunset/dusk provoke/attract/cause/stir/vex/irritate/incite imperial/drive/ride/chariot incense/fragrance/sweet-smelling return/go-back/return-to/revert-to
白髮悲花落,
White/gray hair sad/sorrow/grief flower to-fall/drop /to-set(of the sun)/to-go-out(of a tide)/lower/decline/sink
青雲羨鳥飛。
Clear/blue/green/young sky/cloud envy/admire/praise/covet bird fly
[Clear sky/cloud= fig. high official position, the noble]
聖朝無闕事,
Current/holy/sacred/sage imperial-dynasty/one’s-own-court no/not fault/deficiency/palace matter/thing/item/affair/work
[Note: Both poets were working as advisors to the emperor.],
自覺諫書稀。
Self feel/aware/conscious/conscientious/wake-up-from-sleep to-remonstrate/admonish letter/document rare/uncommon/sparse
[self feel = conscious, aware, on one’s own initiative, conscientious]


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