Han Yu: Spearing Fish

Spearing Fish

叉 鱼
叉 鱼 春 岸 阔
此 兴 在 中 宵。
大 炬 然 如 昼
长 船 缚 似 桥。
深 窥 沙 可 数
静 搒 水 无 摇。
刃 下 那 能 脱
波 间 或 自 跳。
中 鳞 怜 锦 碎
当 目 讶 珠 销。
迷 火 逃 翻 近
惊 人 去 暂 遥。
竞 多 心 转 细
得 隽 语 时 嚣。
潭 罄 知 存 寡
舷 平 觉 获 饶。
交 头 疑 凑 饵
骈 首 类 同 条。
濡 沫 情 虽 密
登 门 志 已 辽。
盈 车 欺 故 事
饲 犬 验 今 朝。
血 浪 凝 犹 沸
腥 风 远 更 飘。
盖 江 烟 羃 羃
拂 棹 影 廖 廖。
獭 去 愁 无 食
龙 移 惧 见 烧。
如 棠 名 既 误
钓 渭 日 徒 消。
文 客 惊 先 赋
篙 工 喜 尽 谣。
脍 成 思 我 友
观 乐 忆 吾 僚。
自 可 捐 忧 累
何 须 强 问 鸮。
Cha Yu

Cha you chun an kuo
Ci xing zai zhong xiao.
Da ju ran ru zhou
Chang chuan fu si qiao.

Shen kui sha ke shu
Jing bang shui wu yao.
Ren xia na neng tuo
Bo jian huo zi tiao.

Zhong lin lian jin sui
Dang mu ya zhu xiao.
Mi huo tao fan jin
Jing ren qu zan yao.

Jing duo xin zhuan xi
De juan yu shi xiao.
Tan qing zhi cun gua
Xian ping jue huo rao.

Jiao tou yi cou er
Pian shou lei tong tiao.
Ru mo qing sui mi
Deng men zhi yi liao.

Ying che qi gu shi
Si quan yan jin zhao.
Xie lang ning you fei
Xing feng yuan geng piao.

Gai jiang yan mi mi
Fu zhao ying liao liao.
Ta qu chou wu shi
Long yi ju jian shao.

Ru tang ming ji wu
Diao wei ri tu xiao.
Wen ke jing xian fu
Gao gong xi jin yao.

Kuai cheng si wo you
Guan le yi wu liao.
Zi ke juan you lei
He xu jiang wen xiao.

 

Spearing Fish

Spearing fish from wide springtime riverbanks
This event begins in the middle of the night.
Large torches make it like daytime
Long boats tied together like a bridge.

Down deep one can count the grains of sand
Row the boats and calmly wait without any shaking.
Fish cannot escape the lowered knives
Maybe they naturally jump out in between waves.

Sympathize with the fish that have been caught and chopped up
Their bulging eyes surprised to be out of the water.
Those near the torches fascinated by the fire, then they turn and swim away
Startled people fall back into the shadows.

Many people passionately compete with each other
Their noise and clamoring for the fish scare them away.
Later the survivors empty out of the deep pools
Boat tops of caught fish level with the water.

Look around to see if anyone has remaining fish bait
Standing side-by-side they pool their resources.
Caught fish try to give each other mouthfuls of water in order to survive
After a while it is every fish for themselves.

Deception through fish stories are as old as the hills
Today’s dawn revealed bits of fish being foraged by the dogs.
Blood still flowing into the raging waters
Raw meat stench floats far in the distance.

River mists now a canopy over the water
A few boats turn around and disappear into the shadows.
Otters melancholy, leave without any food
Fearful dragons flee from burning fires.

Places like Rutang now without fish
I could fish the Wei River like Jiang Taigong, also wait forever to get a bite.
Startled visitors scramble to compose quality poems
The joyful punt pole workers sing while they move.

Think of my friends while producing thin fish fillets
Recall this happiness with my peers and coworkers.
Can we naturally abandon sorrows and commitments
Do not need to await in order to ask the strong owls.

 

Notes:

Rutang: A place that once had an overabundance of fish before the over- fishing started.

Jiang Taigong:  Famous man and story during the end of the Shang Dynasty.

Ask the strong owls: Refers to a smart and able man during the Han Dynasty. The Chinese consider the owl to be a sign of bad luck.

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