Poem of the Day: The Ballad of Mulan – Anonymous (c.5 A.D.) form Yuefu

Tsiek tsiek and again tsiek tsiek,
Mu-lan weaves, facing the door.
You don’t hear the shuttle’s sound,
You only hear Daughter’s sighs.
They ask Daughter who’s in her heart,
They ask Daughter who’s on her mind.
“No one is on Daughter’s heart,
No one is on Daughter’s mind.
Last night I saw the draft posters,
The Khan is calling many troops,
The army list is in twelve scrolls,
On every scroll there’s Father’s name.
Father has no grown-up son,
Mu-lan has no elder brother.
I want to buy a saddle and horse,
And serve in the army in Father’s place.”
In the East Market she buys a spirited horse,
In the West Market she buys a saddle,
In the South Market she buys a bridle,
In the North Market she buys a long whip.
At dawn she takes leave of Father and Mother,
In the evening camps on the Yellow River’s bank.
She doesn’t hear the sound of Father and Mother calling,
She only hears the Yellow River’s flowing water cry tsien tsien.
At dawn she takes leave of the Yellow River,
In the evening she arrives at Black Mountain.
She doesn’t hear the sound of Father and Mother calling,
She only hears Mount Yen’s nomad horses cry tsiu tsiu.
She goes ten thousand miles on the business of war,
She crosses passes and mountains like flying.
Northern gusts carry the rattle of army pots,
Chilly light shines on iron armor.
Generals die in a hundred battles,
Stout soldiers return after ten years.
On her return she sees the Son of Heaven,
The Son of Heaven sits in the Splendid Hall.
He gives out promotions in twelve ranks
And prizes of a hundred thousand and more.
The Khan asks her what she desires.
“Mu-lan has no use for a minister’s post.
I wish to ride a swift mount
To take me back to my home.”
When Father and Mother hear Daughter is coming
They go outside the wall to meet her, leaning on each other.
When Elder Sister hears Younger Sister is coming
She fixes her rouge, facing the door.
When Little Brother hears Elder Sister is coming
He whets the knife, quick quick, for pig and sheep.
“I open the door to my east chamber,
I sit on my couch in the west room,
I take off my wartime gown
And put on my old-time clothes.”
Facing the window she fixes her cloudlike hair,
Hanging up a mirror she dabs on yellow flower powder
She goes out the door and sees her comrades.
Her comrades are all amazed and perplexed.
Traveling together for twelve years
They didn’t know Mu-lan was a girl.
“The he-hare’s feet go hop and skip,
The she-hare’s eyes are muddled and fuddled.
Two hares running side by side close to the ground,
How can they tell if I am he or she?”

From:The Flowering Plum and the Palace Lady: Interpretations of Chinese Poetry
By Han H. Frankel, Yale University Press, 1976.

 

Chinese Text in Jianti

木 兰 辞

唧唧复唧唧,木兰当户织。
不闻机杼声,唯闻女叹息。
问女何所思?问女何所忆?
女亦无所思,女亦无所忆。
昨夜见军帖,可汗大点兵,
军书十二卷,卷卷有爷名。
阿爷无大儿,木兰无长兄,
愿为市鞍马,从此替爷征。

东市买骏马,西市买鞍鞯,
南市买辔头,北市买长鞭。
朝辞爷娘去,暮宿黄河边。
不闻爷娘唤女声,但闻黄河流水鸣溅溅。
旦辞黄河去,暮至黑山头。
不闻爷娘唤女声,但闻燕山胡骑声啾啾。

万里赴戎机,关山度若飞。
朔气传金柝,寒光照铁衣。
将军百战死,壮士十年归。

归来见天子,天子坐明堂。
策勋十二转,赏赐百千强。
可汗问所欲,“木兰不用尚书郎,
愿借明驼千里足,送儿还故乡。”

爷娘闻女来,出郭相扶将。
阿姊闻妹来,当户理红妆。
小弟闻姊来,磨刀霍霍向猪羊。
开我东阁门,坐我西阁床。
脱我战时袍,著我旧时裳。
当窗理云鬓,对镜贴花黄。
出门看火伴,火伴皆惊惶。
同行十二年,不知木兰是女郎。

“雄兔脚扑朔,雌兔眼迷离;
  两兔傍地走,安能辨我是雄雌!”

中国古典文学精粹选读(上)
北京:语文出版社
1995年5月第一版
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