Hard is the Road to Shu
Oho! Behold! How Steep! How high!
The road to Shu is harder than to climb the sky.
Since the two pioneers
Put the kingdom in order,
Have passed forty-eight thousand years,
And few have tried to pass its border.
There’s a bird track o’er Great White Mountain to the west,
Which cuts through Mountain Eyebrows by the crest.
The crest crumbled, five serpent-killing heroes slain,
Along the cliffs a rocky path was hacked then.
Above stand peaks too high for the sun to pass o’er;
Below the torrents run back and forth, churn and roar.
Even the Golden Crane can’t fly across;
How to climb over, gibbons are at a loss.
What tortuous mountain path Green Mud Ridge faces!
Around the top we turn nine turns each hundred paces.
Looking up breathless, I can touch the stars nearby;
Beating my breast, I sink aground with long, long sigh.
When will you come back from this journey to the west?
How can you climb up dangerous path and mountain crest,
Where you can hear on ancient trees but sad birds wail
And see the female birds fly, followed by the male?
And hear home-going cuckoos weep
Beneath the moon in mountains deep?
The road to Shu is harder than to climb the sky,
On hearing this, your cheeks would lose their rosy dye.
Between the sky and peaks them is not a foot’s space,
And ancient pines hang, head down, from the cliff’s surface.
And cataracts and torrents dash on boulders under,
Roaring like thousands of echoes of thunder.
So dangerous these places are,
Alas! Why should you come here from afar?
Rugged is the path between the cliffs so steep and high,
Guarded by one
And forced by none.
Would turn wolves and pards,
Man-eating tigers at day-break
And at dusk blood-sucking long snake.
One may make merry in the Town of Silk, I know,
But I would rather homeward go.
The mad to Shu is harder than to climb the sky,
I’d turn and westward look with long, long sigh.
This poem shows not only the hard way to Shu, present-day Sichuan Province, but also the hard way to rising above in society.