Tang Poem Translated: A Poem Written on the Road at Dengfeng with the Imperial Entourage

A Poem Written on the Road at Dengfeng with the Imperial Entourage

by Song Zhiwen (dates approximately 656 – 712)

This poem was written on the road with Empress Wu as she climbed Songshan Mountain to make a ritual sacrifice.  Dengfeng is south of Songshan Mountain.


The Emperor encamped in splendor amidst the mountain peaks!  How wondrous is the Emperor’s procession.
Dawn clouds touch the rolled up tent entrance as the lantern sparks mix with the departing stars
From the valley darkness ten thousand banners emerge, the mountain spirit calls “Long Live the Emperor as the Emperor appears
Coming along as a retainer is worth remembering in verse, helas I lack the talent equal to it.
It was fun thinking about Emperess Wu camping out in the mountains in a fancy palace tent as dawn arrives.  I took 星回 to mean the stars are departing to their daytime star home wherever that is. I say valley darkness rather than dark valley because of the grammar.  The Chinese is 谷暗   the dark valley would be 谷暗 I think.

A bit of online research turned up a discussion of the poem on Chinese websites at  http://iask.sina.com.cn/b/Lae6Zqqj7H.html and http://baike.baidu.com/view/3354060.htm

Chinese text:


宋之问(约656 — 约712)

帐殿郁崔嵬, 仙游实壮哉

晓云连幕卷, 夜火杂星回

谷暗千旗出, 山鸣万乘来

扈游良可赋, 终乏剡天才

About 高大伟 David Cowhig

Retired now, translated Liao Yiwu's 2019 "Bullets and Opium", and studying some things. Worked 25 years as a US State Department Foreign Service Officer including ten years at US Embassy Beijing and US Consulate General Chengdu and four years as a China Analyst in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research. Before State I translated Japanese and Chinese scientific and technical books and articles into English freelance for six years. Before that I taught English at Tunghai University in Taiwan for three years. And before that I worked two summers on Norwegian farms, milking cows and feeding chickens.
This entry was posted in Literature 文学 and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Tang Poem Translated: A Poem Written on the Road at Dengfeng with the Imperial Entourage

  1. I really liked your post.Really thank you!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.