Black Gown Lane


 
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Wuyixiang in May, 2008

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劉禹錫







Black Gown Lane
        Liu Yuxi 772

Beside Vermilian Bird Bridge
        wild weeds bloom,
By entrance of Black Gown Lane
        slanting evening sun.
In old times
        swallows nested 
                in the mansions 
                        of Wang and Xie,
Now they perch
        in the in the homes
                of humbler folk.
 
Wūyī Xiàng
Liú Yǔxī 772-842

Zhūquè Qiáo biān yěcài huā,
Wūyī Xiàng kǒu Xīyáng xié.
Jiùshí Wáng Xiè dāng qián yàn,
Fēi rù xúnchángbǎixìng jiā.

 
Translator: Dongbo 東波

Notes:
This poem is a lament of the shifting fortunes of families and dynasties. Liu Yuxi visited Black Gown Lane in Nanjing (then named Jinling) in the Tang Dynasty. During the Six Dynasties the street was lined with the impressive and rich homes of the Wang and Xie families. When Liu arrived the bridge was covered with weeds, the graceful mansions of the rich gone, and in their place rough shacks of common folks. The swallows which had become used to the sheltering eves of fine mansions, now had to do with the leaky eves of shanties.

Now today, on May 1, 2008, only the name of this short lane remains. Although only a five minute walk from the Kongzi Miao and the Qinhai river, a major tourist site, there are no tourists here. Only a few drab streetside diners and a squalid apartment block or two. The poem floats unwelcome in the smoggy air.

 
 
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