Dian Lake Song (Two of Twelve)


 
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楊慎 (升庵)







Dian Lake Song (Two of Twelve)
        Yang Shen (Sheng An) 1488-1559

Green jade chicken
        Golden horse
                Old Kunming,
Bronze pillar
        Iron bridge
                Far horizon.
If you ask,
        Who first conqured Yunnan?
People still know
        General Fu Youde did it!

 
Diānhǎiqū Shíèrshǒu (Zhīèr)
Yáng Shèn (Shēng Ān) 1488-1559

Bì jī jǐn mǎ gǔ liáng zhōu,
Tóng zhù tiě qiáo tiān jì tóu.
Shì wèn píng diān gōng dì yī,
Féng rén wéi shuō Yǐng chuān hóu.
 
Translator: Dongbo 東波

Notes:
This poem requires some explanation! The tyranical founder and first Ming emperor Zhu Yuanzhang (朱元璋 1328-1398) sent one of his generals, Fu Youde to conquor Yunnan, which Fu did successfully. Then Zhu sent his adopted son to rule Yunnan and murdered Fu. This poem satirizes Zhu's attempt to rewrite history and take credit for Fu's accomplishment. 潁川侯 Yingchuan Hou, at the end of line four, is a title awarded to Fu Youde when he conquered Sichuan.

In Kunming, since the Ming Dynasty, there have been two archways (牌樓), one named Jinma (Gold Horse) and other Biji (Green Jade), which are until today, symbols of Kunming. First built of stone in 1424 of the Ming Dynasty. These pailou are named after Jinma Mountain to the east of Kunming, and Biji Mountain to the west.

The mention of Bronze Pillars 銅柱 in line two is intriguing! Did Fu Youde place bronze pillars to deliniate the area he conquered, following the example of Ma Yuan of the Han Dynasty over 1,000 years before? Or, are these bronze pillars the ones placed there by Ma Yuan* himself?

* See Liam Kelley, one of our TransPoets and the author of Beyond the Bronze Pillars, Envoy Poetry and the Sino-Vietnamese Relationship.

 
 
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