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Liu Zongyuan: The Small Tarn West of the Knoll ~ 柳宗元 《小石潭记》with English Translations

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柳宗元 《小石潭记》


The Small Tarn West of the Knoll
Liu Zongyuan

A hundred and twenty paces west of the knoll, across the bamboos and bushes I heard with delight a gurgling like the sound made by jade bracelets. So I cut a path through the bamboos till I came upon a small pool of clear water. The bottom was of rock and a spring gushed out from the boulders near the bank. Rocks formed little islets and crags, overhung by green trees and vines which were growing in great profusion. There were about a hundred fish in the tarn, and they seemed to be gliding through empty space without support. In the sunlight which reached the bottom, casting shadows over the rocks, the fish would stay for a while motionless then suddenly dart far away. They scudded to and fro, as if sharing the visitors’ delight.
Looking southwest in the chequered sunlight at the jagged, serpentine shore, you could not see the whole.
I sat by this tarn, with bamboos and trees all round me, in utter silence and solitude. The seclusion and quiet cast a chill over me; and the scene was one of such purity that I could not stay there long. So I marked the spot and left.
With me were Wu Wuling, Gong Gu, and my brother Zongxuan. And two of the Cui boys, Shuyi and Fengyi, had accompanied us to help us.

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