Meng Haoran’s “With Several Friends, Climbing Steep Mountain” (300 Tang Poems #125)

Translation
Meng Haoran(689-740)
孟浩然
With Several Friends, Climbing Up Steep Mountain
與諸子登峴山
Human affairs
wither and grow,
人事
有代謝
Coming and going,
from ancient to modern.
往來
成古今
The rivers and mountains
are footprints that remain,
江山
留勝跡
And are what my my friends
and I return to see, repeatedly.
我輩
復登臨
The river ebbs, gurgling
along the Town of Fish Bridge
水落
魚梁淺
While the heavens are cold
and Dreaming Pond is dark.
天寒
夢澤深
A gravestone tells of Duke Yang,
man of a similar path;
羊公
碑字在
As I finish reading,
the tears moisten my collar.
讀罷
淚沾襟
Notes
This poem describes Meng Haoran’s visits to Xian
Mountain (literally, Steep Mountain). He is looking at the cycle of nature: the
growth and decay of generations of plants, the ebb and flow of the river, and
comparing it to human life and affairs.
Implicitly, he is thinking of his own troubles at
finding a successful government position and his decision to retire into the
woods. The heavens are symbolic of the Emperor and Dreaming Pond, a real place,
could be viewed symbolically as representing his dreams. At the end, he sees the
tombstone of Duke Yang, a general from the earlier Jin Dynasty (265-420), who
was famous for going to Xian Mountain with his friends. This closes the circle
of comparing his situation to that of the ancients, bringing him to tears.




Original Chinese
Traditional
Simplified
Pronunciation
孟浩然
孟浩然
Mèng Hào Rán
與諸子登峴山
与诸子登岘山
Yǔ zhū zǐ dēng xiàn shān
人事有代謝,
人事有代谢,
Rén shì yǒu dài xiè,
往來成古今。
往来成古今。
Wǎng lái chéng gǔ jīn.
江山留勝跡,
江山留胜迹,
Jiāng shān liú shèng jì,
我輩復登臨。
我辈复登临。
Wǒ bèi fù dēng lín.
水落魚梁淺,
水落鱼梁浅,
Shuǐ luò yú liáng qiǎn,
天寒夢澤深。
天寒梦泽深。
Tiān hán mèng zé shēn.
羊公碑字在,
羊公碑字在,
Yáng gōng bēi zì zài,
讀罷淚沾襟。
读罢泪沾襟。
Dú bà lèi zhān jīn.
                                                                                          
Literal Notes
孟浩然
Elder-brother/first Grand/great Shape/pledge=Meng
Haoran(689-740)
與諸子登峴山
Together-with/with various/all/several friend/son/child
ascend/scale(a height)/climb Xian/steep-hill Mountain
[various friend = various sages], [Xian Mountain= Mt.
Xian, also called Mt. Xianshou in Hubei Province]
人事有代謝,
People/man/mankind matter/thing/work/affair
have/there-is/to-be to-substitute/act-on-behalf-of others/replace
decline/wither(of flowers, leaves)
[People matter = ways of the world, the facts of life,
human affairs], [to-substitute decline = replacement/substitution]
往來成古今。
Go/to/towards/bound-for/depart/past/previous come/
arrive/since/return become/turn-into/succeed/finish/ complete  ancient/old today/modern/present/now
[Go come = go back and forth, contacts, dealings]
[ancient today = then and now, ancient and modern]
江山留勝跡,
River  mountain
keep/preserve/stay/remain/stop/halt  superb(of
vista)/beautiful(scenery)/wonderful(view)  
footprint/trace/mark/track
[River  mountain=the
country, landscape]
我輩復登臨。
I/my/we/us 
generation/contemporaries/lifetime/class repeat/again/go-and-return/resume
climb/ascend  to-face/overlook/arrive
[climb to-face = visit place famous for its scenery]
水落魚梁淺,
Water/river (tide)go-out/fall/drop/sink Fish
Bridge/beam-of-roof shallow/light(color)/sound-of-moving-water
[Fish Bridge/beam-of-roof=Yuliang town]
天寒夢澤深。
Day/heaven/sky cold/wintry/chilly Dream/visionary Pond/damp/moist/marsh  dark(of water)/deep/profound
[Dream Pond = Yunmeng Lake Area, now it is a county in
Hubei. In the ancient, it included a much broader area from South Hubei  to North Hunan, mainly low lying areas.
Lake Dongting was also in that area.]
羊公碑字在,
Yang/sheep/goat Duke/gentleman
monument/an-upright-stone-tablet/gravestone 
letter/symbol/character/word 
exist/(located)at/(to be)in
[Yang Duke = General Yang Hu was stationed in Xiangyang in
Jin Dynasty. He often got together with his friends at Mt. Xian. He made the
comment that people and time change, and only the green hill remains.]
讀罷淚沾襟。
Read/study finish/stop/cease/suspend tears/weep/cry
moisten/wet/soak/touch lapel/collar/overlap-of-Chinese-gown/(fig. bosom/seat-of-emotions)

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