琵琶行 Song of a Pipa Plager

Author: -- 白居易 Bai Juyi
浔阳江头夜送客,
One night by riverside I bade a friend goodbye;
枫叶荻花秋瑟瑟。
In maple leaves and rushes autumn seemed to sigh.
主人下马客在船,
My friend and I dismounted and came into the boat;
举酒欲饮无管弦。
We wished to drink but there was no music afloat.
醉不成欢惨将别,
Without flute songs we drank our cups with heavy heart;
别时茫茫江浸月。
The moonbeams blent with water when we were to part.
忽闻水上琵琶声,
Suddenly o'er the stream we heard a pipa sound;
主人忘归客不发。
I forgot to go home and the guest stood spell-bound.
寻声暗问弹者谁?
We followed where the music led to find the player,
琵琶声停欲语迟。
But heard the pipa stop and no music in the air.
移船相近邀相见,
We moved our boat towards the one whence came the strain,
添酒回灯重开宴。
Brought back the lamp, asked for more wine and drank again.
千呼万唤始出来,
Repeatedly we called for the fair player till
犹抱琵琶半遮面。
She came, her face half hidden behind a pipa still.
转轴拨弦三两声,
She turned the pegs and tested twice or thrice each string;
未成曲调先有情。
Before a tune was played we heard her feelings sing.
弦弦掩抑声声思,
Each string she plucked, each note she struck with pathos strong,
似诉平生不得志。
All seemed to say she'd missed her dreams all her life long.
低眉信手续续弹,
Head bent, she played with unpremeditate art
说尽心中无限事。
On and on to pour out her overflowing heart.
轻拢慢捻抹复挑,
She lightly plucked, slowly stroked and twanged loud
初为《霓裳》后《六幺》。
The song of "Green Waist" after that of "Rainbow Cloud".
大弦嘈嘈如急雨,
The thick strings loudly thrummed like the pattering rain;
小弦切切如私语。
The fine strings softly tinkled in a murmuring strain.
嘈嘈切切错杂弹,
When mingling loud and soft notes were together played,
大珠小珠落玉盘。
You heard large and small pearls cascade on plate of jade.
间关莺语花底滑,
Now you heard orioles warble in flowery land,
幽咽泉流冰下难。
Then a sobbing stream run along a beach of sand.
冰泉冷涩弦凝绝,
But the stream seemed so cold as to tighten the string;
凝绝不通声暂歇。
From tightened strings no more sound could be heard to sing.
别有幽愁暗恨生,
Still we heard hidden grief and vague regret concealed;
此时无声胜有声。
Then music expressed far less than silence revealed.
银瓶乍破水浆迸,
Suddenly we heard water burst a silver jar,
铁骑突出刀枪鸣。
And the clash of spears and sabres coming from afar.
曲终收拨当心画,
She made a central sweep when the music was ending;
四弦一声如裂帛。
The four strings made one sound, as of silk one is rending.
东船西舫悄无言,
Silence reigned left and right of the boat, east and west;
惟见江心秋月白。
We saw but autumn moon white in the river's breast.
沉吟放拨插弦中,
She slid the plectrum pensively between the strings,
整顿衣裳起敛容。
Smoothed out her dress and rose with a composed mien.
自言本是京城女,
"I spent, " she said, "in the capital my early springs,
家在虾蟆陵下住。
Where at the foot of Mount of Toads my home had been.
十三学得琵琶成,
At thirteen I learned on the pipa how to play,
名属教坊第一部。
And my name was among the primas of the day.
曲罢曾教善才服,
I won my master's admiration for my skill;
妆成每被秋娘妒。
And my beauty was envied by deserted fair one.
五陵年少争缠头,
The gallant young men vied to shower gifts on me;
一曲红绡不知数。
One tuned played, countless silk rolls were given with glee.
钿头银篦击节碎,
Beating time, I let silver comb and pin drop down,
血色罗裙翻酒污。
And spilt-out wine oft stained my blood-red silken gown.
今年欢笑复明年,
From year to year I laughed my joyous life away
秋月春风等闲度。
On moonlit autumn night or windy vernal day.
弟走从军阿姨死,
My younger brother left for war, and died my maid;
暮去朝来颜色故。
Days passed, nights came,and my beauty began to fade.
门前冷落鞍马稀,
Fewer and fewer were cabs and steeds at my door;
老大嫁作商人妇。
I married a smug merchant when my prime was o'er.
商人重利轻别离,
The merchant cared for money much more than for me;
前月浮梁买茶去。
One month ago he went away to purchase tea,
去来江口守空船,
Leaving his lonely wife alone in empty boat;
绕船月明江水寒。
Shrouded in moonlight, on the cold river I float.
夜深忽梦少年事,
Deep in the night I dreamed of happy bygone years
梦啼妆泪红阑干。
and woke to find my rouged face crisscrossed with tears."
我闻琵琶已叹息,
Listening to her sad music, I sighed with pain;
又闻此语重唧唧。
Hearing her story, I sighed again and again.
同是天涯沦落人,
"Both of us in misfortune go from shore to shore.
相逢何必曾相识!
Meeting now, need we have known each other before?'
我从去年辞帝京,
I was banished from the capital last ear
谪居卧病浔阳城。
To live degraded and ill in this city here.
浔阳地僻无音乐,
The city's too remote to know melodious song,
终岁不闻丝竹声。
So I have never heard music all the year long.
住近湓江地低湿,
I dwell by riverbank on a low and damp ground
黄芦苦竹绕宅生。
In a house with wild reeds and stunted bamboos around.
其间旦暮闻何物?
What is here to be heard from daybreak till nightfall
杜鹃啼血猿哀鸣。
But gibbon's cry and cuckoo's homeward-going call?
春江花朝秋月夜,
By blooming riverside and under autumn moon
往往取酒还独倾。
I've often taken wine up and drunk it alone.
岂无山歌与村笛?
Though I've mountain songs and village pipes to hear,
呕哑嘲哳难为听。
Yet they are crude and strident and grate on the ear.
今夜闻君琵琶语,
Listening to you playing on pipa tonight,
如听仙乐耳暂明。
With your music divine e'en my hearing seems bring.
莫辞更坐弹一曲,
Will you sit down and play for us a tune once more?
为君翻作《琵琶行》。
I'll write for you an ode to the pipa I adore."
感我此言良久立,
Touched by what I said, the player stood for long,
却坐促弦弦转急。
Then sat down, tore at strings and played another song.
凄凄不似向前声,
So sad, so drear, so different, it moved us deep;
满座重闻皆掩泣。
Those who heard it hid the face and began to weep.
座中泣下谁最多?
Of all the company at table who wept most?
江州司马青衫湿。
It was none other than the exiled blue-robed host.

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