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Orchid Pavilion PreludeWang XiZhi

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In the 9th year of Eternal Peace,

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the 50th year of the 60 year cycle, (353 CE)


the beginning of the end of spring,

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We have gathered in the shady province of KuiJi Mountain's Orchid Pavilion,


and carried out purification rituals.


The worthy masses have all arrived.


Young and old have come together.

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Here there are high mountains and steep peaks,


abundant forests and lofty bamboos,

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as well as clear water in burbling brooks,

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reflections flowing all around.

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The winding river carries the wine glass where it will
(where it lands selects who must compose a poem,
as well as presumably have a drink);

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lined up one after the other;

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though we lack musical instruments to accompany us,


drinking and reciting,

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we can be content expressing our feelings.


As for this day,


the sky is bright and the air is clear,


the favorable wind is joyful;

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looking up to see the vast universe,

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looking down to see abundant goods;

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what my wandering eyes see makes my heart race

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extremely satisfied with sights' and sounds' amusements,

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and really can be happy even.

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People gather together,

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in a blink, life passes by,

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some people satisfy all their desires,

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discussing matters indoors;


some people put their faith

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in freeing their souls.


Though interests are abundantly unique,

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tranquility and recklessness are not equal;


whatever pleasures one meets,


are there for just a moment,

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in easy-going satisfaction,

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one hardly realizes how fast we grow old.

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As that is replaced by tiredness,


attitudes follow this shift,

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feeling disappointment at last.


As for all that happiness,

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in a blink,

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it is already a relic,

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but we still can't help but act in accordance with our emotions;


whether life is long or short is up to destiny,

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in the end, death comes.

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The ancients said,

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"Death is a grave matter."

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How could it not be agonizing?


Any look at the ancients' emotions' reasons,

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shows them of the same cut;

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It's impossible to avoid this literary lamenting,

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which can't really get at what is in their hearts.

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So I know death is all the more meaningless,


while treating long and short lives as equal is also absurd.


Our descendants will look back at us,


as we now look back at our ancestors,


in mourning!


So a series of current writers,

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have recorded here their compositions,


though their lives and situations vary,

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making use of their feelings


they come together as one.


When subsequent generations look here,

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may they also feel what is in this literature.

Much thanks to Liu YiRu 劉怡如 at ChengGong University 成功大學 in Tainan 台南for her great effort and indispensable aid in hopefully getting me to understandthis text correctly. Disputes with any sections of the translationshould obviously be directed towards myself.

phillip potamites
my.last.name@yahoo.com