菩萨蛮.书江西造口壁 (To the Tune “Buddhist Dancers”: Written on the Cliff at Zaokou in Jiangxi Province)
辛弃疾 （Author: Xin Qiji, 12th century)
郁孤台下清江水，Yu Gu Terrance under clear river water
中间多少行人泪。middle among a lot few travel person tears
西北望长安， west north look Chang’an
可怜无数山。 deserve pitiful no count mountain
青山遮不住， green mountain cover no stop
毕竟东流去。 after all east flow go
江晚正愁余， river night just sorrow I
山深闻鹧鸪。 mountain deep hear Partridge
Beneath the Yu Gu Terrace flow the clear waters of the Gan River.
Mingled with the tears of so many who come this way.
I look northwest toward Chang An,
And feel bitterness at the sight of the unending mountains.
But the green mountains can’t stop the rivers.
After all, they flow east.
At night here, on the bank of the Gan, I feel so much sadness.
Deep in the mountains, I hear the partridges crying.
The author was famous for his patriotic poems, written during the Southern Song dynasty, a period when China had lost control of the northern part of its empire. The majority of the Song’s royal family had been captured by the northern invaders, though a few, including a former empress, escaped. This poem memorializes a spot where the empress stopped after abandoning her boat. The traveler looks back at Chang An, which was not the capital at that time, but which was a symbol of the past greatness. There is debate as to how the sixth line should be understood since it seems to be saying that the Gan river flows east, when, in fact, it flows north. Some scholars believe that the east-flowing river is a reference to the two great rivers of China, the Yellow River and the Yangtze, both of which flow east. In other words, no matter which way a local river that was the scene of heartbreak and defeat may run, the nation’s two most important rivers still go in the same direction.
The second couplet of the poem was tweaked a bit by contemporary Chinese netizens to satirize a municipal Chinese authority’s censorship towards “negative” COVID lockdown posts. In January this year, authorities in the northwestern Chinese city of Xi’an, which was named Chang An during the Tang Dynasty, imposed harsh COVID lockdown measures that left a lot of city residents with a shortage of food and limited access to necessary medical treatment. With online posts complaining the local government’s COVID lockdown policies going viral on different social media websites, authorities in Xi’an started to ban “negative” COVID lockdown posts on social media. Some creative Chinese netizens, inspired by the second couplet of this poem, changed the last word in the second couplet from “山“ to “删“. The two words are a homophonic pun in Chinese. With the change, the second couplet reads (in Chinese) as followed: “西北望长安，可怜无数删“, and could be translated as “I look northwest toward Chang An. And feel bitterness that countless posts were deleted”.