Fishing in the Wei River


 
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Wei River bank in Xianyang, just west of Xian

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Fishing in the Wei River
Bai Juyi 774-846

In waters still as a burnished mirror's face,
In the depths of Wei, carp and graying swim.
Idly I come with my bamboo fishing-rod
And hang my hook by the banks of Wei stream.
A gentle wind blows on my fishing-gear
Softly shaking my ten feet of line.
Though my body sits waiting for fish to come,
My heart has wandered to the Land of Nothingness.
Long ago a white-headed man
Also fished at the same river's side;
A hooker of men, not a hooker of fish,
At seventy years, he caught Wen Wang.
But I, when I come to cast my hook in the stream,
Have no thought either of fish or men.
Lacking the skill to capture either prey,
I can only bask in the autumn water's light.
When I tire of this, my fishing also stops;
I go to my home and drink my cup of wine.
 
Wèi Shàng Ǒu Diào
Bái Jūyì 774-846

Wèishuǐ rú jìng sè,
Zhōng yǒu lǐ yǔ fáng.
Ǒu chí yī gān zhú,
Xuán diào zài qí pàng.
Wēifēng chuī diào sī,
Niǎoniǎo shí chǐ cháng.
Shuí zhī duì yú zuò,
Xīn zài wúhé xiāng.
Xī yǒu bái tóu rén,
Yì diào cǐ Wèi yáng.
Diào rén bú diào yú,
Qīshí dé Wénwáng.
Kuàng wǒ chuídiào yì,
Rén yú yòu jiān wàng.
Wú jī liǎng bù dé,
Dàn nòng qiū shuǐ guāng.
Xìng jìn diào yì bà,
Guīlái yǐn wǒ shāng.
 
Translator: Arthur Waley 亞瑟·魏黎

Notes:
A river in west-central China, the largest tributary of the Yellow River. The source of the Wei River is close to Weiyuan County in Gansu province. Weiyuan (渭源) literally means "Wei's source". At its source, it is less than 200km from the Yellow River at Lanzhou. However, due to the sharp turn north the Yellow River takes in Lanzhou, the Wei and the Yellow Rivers do not meet for more than 2000 km further along the Yellow River's course. In a direct line, its source lies 700 km west of the main city it passes, Xi'an in the Shaanxi province. The length of the river is 818 km and the area drained covers 135.000 km² Its valley was one of the early cradles of Chinese civilisation, along which the capitals of the Qin, (Xianyang), Han and Tang Dynasties were situated.

 
 
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