Lament of a Peasant Woman of Wu


 
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Peasant gathering firewood at Hanyan, Tiantaishan.

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蘇軾













宿













西

滿

Lament of a Peasant Woman of Wu
        Su Shi 1036-1101

This year the rice plants ripen late,
They won’t be ready 
        until frosty winds begin to blow.
And when frosty winds came 
        the rain never stopped,
Mold grew on the hoe, 
        the sickle turned rusty.
Her eyes had no more tears, 
        yet still the rains came down.
Staring bitterly at yellow stalks 
        lying in black mud.
For a month she stayed 
        in a shack in the fields,
Picked what she could 
        when the weather cleared, 
                then followed the ox home.
Sweating, 
        she carried the crops to the market, 
                her shoulders bruised from the load,
But received a price 
        usually paid for mere husks of grain.
She sold the ox to pay taxes, 
        stripped wood from her roof 
                for her cooking fire,
Desperate acts 
        with no thought for next year’s hunger.
This year the tax collectors 
        demand cash not crops
To recruit Tibetans 
        to guard the vast northwestern frontier.
Sage officials fill the court, 
        but the people’s lives get worse, 
Better to end her days as the River Lord’s wife!
 
Wú Zhōng Tián Fù Tàn
Sū Shì 1036-1101

Jīntiān jīngdào shú kǔ chí,
Shù jiàn shuāng fēng lái jǐshì.
Shuāngfēng lái shì yǔ rú xiè,
Bǎtóu chū jūn lián shēng yī.
Yǎn kū lèi jìn yǔ bù jìn,
Rěn jiàn huáng suì wò qīng ní.
Máo shān yī yuè Lóng shàng sù,
Tiān qíng huò dào suí niú guī.
Hàn liú jiān chēng zǎirù shì,
Jià jiàn qǐ yǔ rú kāng xī.
Mài niú nàshuì chāi wū chuī,
Lǜ qiǎn bùjí míngnián jī.
Jīn guān yàoqián bùyào mǐ,
Xīběi wànlǐ zhāo Qiāng ér.
Gōng huáng mǎncháo rén gèng kǔ,
Bùrú què zuò Hébó fù.
 
Translator: Ron Egan 艾朗諾

Notes:
Wu is the name of the Kingdom of Wu, that controlled the area of present day Zhejiang Province prior to the Song Dynasty.

From Ron Egan's definitive book on Su Shi (Su Dongpo), Word Image and Deed In The Life Of Su Shi, Harvard University Press. Used with permission. Professor Egan teaches at the University of California, Santa Barbara, California.

 
 
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