Liu Yuxi Poem: The Street of Mansions – 刘禹锡《乌衣巷》

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[1] 《千家诗》注说:“朱雀桥在金陵城外,乌衣巷在桥边。乌衣,燕子也;王谢之家,庭多燕子,故名乌衣。王导、谢安,晋相,世家大族,贤才众多,皆居巷中,为六朝巨室;至唐时,则皆衰落零替而不知其处。桥边惟长野草,巷口但见夕阳,而古迹已难寻矣。今之燕子依然,而王谢之家已泯,但飞入寻常百姓之家而已。盖伤故家古迹之不存也。”这是一首充满盛衰之感的怀古诗。

[2] 朱雀桥:六朝时都城建康正南门朱雀门外的大桥,在今南京市。

[3] 乌衣巷:三国时东吴的乌衣营所在地,在今南京秦淮河南。

[4] 王谢:指东晋时王导、谢安两大家族,当时均住在乌衣巷。

[5] 寻常:普通。

The Street of Mansions

Liu Yuxi

Beside the Bridge of Birds rank grasses overgrow;

Over the Street of Mansions the setting sun hangs low.

Swallows which skimmed by painted eaves in bygone days

Are dipping now among the humble homes’ doorways.



“The Street of Mansions” is one of the masterpieces of the Tang Dynasty poet Liu Yuxi, the second poem in a group of poems entitled “Five Questions of the Golden Lings”. This poem is a reminder of the prosperity of the Zhuque Bridge on the Qinhuai River and the Wuyi Lane on the south bank of Nanjing in the past, but now the weeds are overgrown and desolate, lamenting the vicissitudes of the sea and the changes in life. The author chooses the usual phenomenon that the master’s house where the swallows live is no longer the master of the old days, so that people realize that it is difficult to keep the wealth and glory, and that those dignitaries and noblemen who were once prosperous are like passing clouds, becoming the relics of history. The poem does not have a word of discussion, but through the description of weeds, sunset, swallows as a witness to the rise and fall of the prosperity, cleverly linking history and reality, leading people to think about the development of the times and social change, containing a profound moral. Although the language is extremely shallow, the taste is infinite.

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