Cao Zhi Poems with English Translations: Song of the White Horse – 曹植《白马篇》

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Cao Zhi – 曹植

 

白马篇

曹植

白马饰金羁[1],连翩[2]西北驰。

借问谁家子,幽并[3]游侠儿。

少小去[4]乡邑[5],扬声[6]沙漠垂[7]。

宿昔秉[8]良弓,楛[9]矢何参差。

控弦破左的[10],右发摧月支[11]。

仰手接飞猱[12],俯身散马蹄[13]。

狡捷[14]过猴猿,勇剽[15]若豹螭[16]。

边城多警急,虏骑[17]数[18]迁移。

羽檄[19]从北来,厉马[20]登高堤。

长驱蹈匈奴,左顾凌鲜卑[21]。

弃身锋刃端,性命安可怀[22]?

父母且不顾,何言子与妻!

名编壮士籍[23],不得中顾私[24]。

捐躯[25]赴国难,视死忽[26]如归!

注释:

[1] 羁:马笼头。

[2] 连翩:飞翔不停的样子。此形容白马疾驰。

[3] 幽并:古代两个州名。幽州,今河北北部一带。并州,今山西、陕西北部一带。

[4] 去:离开。

[5] 乡邑:这里指故乡。

[6] 扬声:扬名。

[7] 垂:同“陲”,边疆。

[8] 秉:持。

[9] 楛:树木名,可制作箭杆。

[10] 的:箭靶。

[11] 月支:又名素支,一种箭靶。

[12] 猱:猿类动物,善攀树木,动作敏捷。

[13] 马蹄:一种箭靶。

[14] 狡捷:灵活敏捷。

[15] 剽:轻快。

[16] 螭:相传为一种似龙的凶猛动物,能攀树木,动作轻捷。

[17] 虏骑:指鲜卑、匈奴的骑兵。

[18] 数:屡次。

[19] 羽檄:紧急征召的文书。檄,征召的文书,写在一尺二寸长的木简上,情况紧急时上插羽毛。

[20] 厉马:策马疾驰。

[21] 鲜卑:古代北方少数民族之一。

[22] 怀:爱惜。

[23] 籍:簿籍,指登记人名的册子。

[24] 中顾私:心中考虑私事。

[25] 捐躯:献身。

[26] 忽:轻忽。

Song of the White Horse

Cao Zhi

A white horse gallops in its golden gear

As if in flight to north western frontier.

Who is the cavalier in hurry great?

A gallant hero of the northern state.

While he was young, he left his native land;

His name was known as far as border sand.

Since then he’s learned to draw the strongest bow

And shoot arrows of hard wood high and low.

He bends the string and hits the target at left,

And at destroying that at right he’s deft.

Looking up, he shoots a bird fast in speed;

Bowing down, he breaks the hoof of a steed.

To be more swift than gibbons is not hard,

Nor to be strong and daring like a pard.

The border towns along northwest frontiers

Are oft invaded by Hunnish cavaliers.

When urgent messages come from northern side,

At once to the high fortress he would ride.

Straight forward he would drive against the Huns;

Turning back, he would beat Tartarian sons.

At the point of the sword in the hard strife,

How could he care for individual life?

He’d take no heed of his father and mother,

Let alone wife, children or any other.

Of heroes brave his name is on the roll;

He would not care when his death knell would toll.

The state at stake, he would give his last breath.

Would a homegoing soul fear to face death?

Cao Zhi – 曹植
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