Li Bai: Old Man Cannot Go Across

Old Man Cannot Go Across

公 无 渡 河
黄 河 西 来 决 昆 仑
咆 哮 万 里 触 龙 门。
波 滔 天, 尧 咨 嗟
大 禹 理 百 川
儿 啼 不 窥 家。
杀 湍 堙 洪 水
九 州 始 蚕 麻。
其 害 乃 去
茫 然 风 沙。
被 发 之 叟 狂 而 痴
清 晨 径 流 欲 奚 为?
旁 人 不 惜 妻 止 之
公 无 渡 河 苦 渡 之。
虎 可 拨, 河 难 凭
公 果 溺 死 流 海 湄。
有 长 鲸 白 齿 若 雪 山
公 乎 公 乎 挂 骨 于 间。
箜 篌 所 悲 竟 不 还。
Gong Wu Du He

Huang he xi lai jue kun lun
Pao xiao wan li chu long men.
Bo tao tian, yao zi jie
Da yu li bai chuan.
Er ti bu kui jia.

Sha tuan yin hong shui
Jiu zhou shi can ma.
Qi hai nai qu
Mang ran feng sha.

Bei fa zhi sou kuang er chi.
Qing chen jing liu yu xi wei?
Pang ren bu xi qi zhi zhi
Gong wu du he ku du zhi.

Hu ke bo, he nan ping
Gong guo ni si liu hai mei.
You chang jing bai chi ruo xue shan
Gong hu gong hu gua gu han yu jian.
Kong hou suo bei jing bu huan.

Old Man Cannot Go Across the River

Yellow River arrives from the western Kunlun mountains
It roars for thousands of miles to the Dragon Gate City.
Waves and floods to the sky, Emperor Yao lamented
Hydro engineer Da Yu tamed one hundred rivers.

Worked away from home and children who were crying for him to return
He fought the rapids, diverted the flood waters.
Whole country began to raise silkworms for cloth
With floods eliminated, but then came expanses of wind and sand.

The old man with untied hair is crazy and silly
Early morning footpath, you want to follow the small river?
People other than his wife won’t stop him
He should not try to go beyond the river.

You can fight the tigers, but rivers are more difficult to tame
Finally he drowned, body floating along the riverbanks.
My critics have long, white whale’s teeth like the snowy mountains
All too glad to suspend my separated backbone
In the end, wife played sad Konghou songs for his fate,  never return back to her.


Yellow River:  Second largest river in Asia, and number six in the world.

Kunlun mountains:  Long mountain range (1,800 miles) on the northern edge of the Tibetan Plateau. Also named in Chinese mythology as the place of gods and goddesses.

Dragon Gate City: In northwest Zhejiang Province

Emperor Yao: (ca. 2356-2255 BC). Also known as Emperor Shun, renowned for being morally perfect and a great sage-king.

Da Yu: (ca. 2200-2102 BC) Known as Yu the Great, was key in the establishment of the Xia Dynasty. Famous for creating the flood control projects that made him “The Controller of the Waters”.

Konghou songs: Songs played by the Chinese version of the harp, used to make imperial court music.

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