Perilous Journey to the Land of Shu
Alas! The height, the staggering height!
The road to Shu, so steep, steeper than Heaven.
Where are those founders of the Shu Kingdom?
Long forgotten in that land, unknown for
Thousands of years, to the outside world!
Mount Tai sitting to the west—a pass
Trying the birds’ flight to Emei.
Many a heroic death,
Among collapsing crags and cracking tops,
Paved a human path hanging and threading
Through peaks and rocks.
Overhead, the six-dragon chariot of the Sun
Finds no way round;
Down the cliffs, a swirling torrent tears,
Battering against a ragged land.
What a journey—a despair even to
Noble flying cranes and agile climbing monkeys!
That Grey Earth Ridge, that breath-taking height—
Winding, wringing, coiling—
I could touch the sky on top of it.
But defeated by the climb,
You cannot but give up, with a deep sign.
When are you to return
From your westbound journey, may I ask?
Look at those defiant peaks
And treacherous trails—can you manage?
All ahead is but miserable birds wailing
In the ancient jungles, flying,
Males in front, females following.
Listen, the persuasive cuckoo is calling again,
“Go home, go home!”
We stay in a desolate valley
With a bleak moon.
The road to Shu, so steep, steeper than Heaven!
A decolouring, youth-draining, courage-wearing trip!
Peak upon peak piling to the sky—a mere foot away.
Pine trees pegged on the precipices
By a thousand years’ weathering,
Dashing waterfalls rocking the valleys
With an everlasting thunderstorm.
It couldn’t be more dangerous,
But why should you have struggled so far here?
Don’t you see that forbidding Sword Pass—
One defender there, and
A whole army’s attack would be blocked.
If he is not your man,
You are doomed.
Hide from tigers at dawn,
And look out for snakes at night—in this land of
Teeth-grinding, blood-sucking, murderous beasts.
The capital of Shu may boast a city of joy, but
Isn’t it better back home?
The westbound road to Shu, so steep,
Steeper than Heaven!
I plod my way, step by step, sign after sign.