游山西村 Traveling to a Village West of the Mountain
陆游 (Author: Lu You, 12th century)
莫笑农家腊酒浑，no laugh farm family winter wine murky
丰年留客足鸡豚。ample year keep guest enough chicken pig/meat
山重水复疑无路，mountain layers water repeat doubt no road
柳暗花明又一村。willow dark flower bright again one village
箫鼓追随春社近，bamboo flute drum chase follow spring sacrifice near
衣冠简朴古风存。clothes hat simple rustic ancient style exist
从今若许闲乘月，From today if allow leisure take advantage of moon
拄杖无时夜叩门。lean on walking stick unscheduled night knock at door
Don’t laugh at the murky winter wine in a farmer’s cottage
In the good years there’s enough chicken and pork for guests
There are so many mountains and with the way the river twists, you think there’s no road
And then, dark willows, bright blossoms, another village appears.
Pipers, drummers, chasing and following each other, the spring sacrifice is near.
Farmers’ straw hats and simple, country clothes, the old way of life is not forgotten.
From now on, please allow me to take advantage of a full moon,
Leaning leisurely on my cane, I’ll knock on your door some evening.
Although this poem is similar to the Field and Garden school of poetry in that it describes a pleasing natural landscape, it is not firmly within the Field and Garden tradition. The emphasis in this poem is on the rural people rather than the rural surroundings, and the overall effect is one of happy engagement rather than contemplative withdrawal. “Traveling to a Village West of the Mountain” is much praised by the communist party because it exalts the everyday life of the working class. The second couplet has long been famous for its encouragement of perseverance toward an uncertain goal. In fact, it is so famous that Secretary Clinton recited it in 2010 during her remarks at the Shanghai World Expo. The translation she used is as follows: “After endless mountains and rivers that leave doubt whether there is a path out, suddenly one encounters the shade of a willow, bright flowers and a lovely village.” We chose to use the second person rather than the third to increase the sense of intimacy. We do not describe the village as lovely since “lovely” is not in the original. Other translations of this poem have been more literal than ours, though, at least with regards to the final line in which they accurately state that the proposed visits are “unscheduled” or “out of time.” We hope that this idea of a spontaneous visit was adequately implied in our version. We felt that words such as “unscheduled” were a little clumsy and out of place in the English version of the poem.
1 thought on “Traveling to a Village West of the Mountain (游山西村)”
The poem describes rural life according to ritualized agricultural life. 腊酒、春社 represent ritual celebration at the end of a year’s work and at the beginning of a year’s work. https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%E7%A4%BE They are common knowledge described in the Book of Rituals 禮記, which is a type of 诗教（The teaching of poetics ）employed by the government through various kinds of cultural forms, such as illustrated books and calendars, for example, popular 耕織圖 since Song Dynasty: https://www.loc.gov/item/2012402859/
Maybe you can try to find a way to translate this deep cultural meaning in the poem, or at least give an explanation in the note.