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Translating 九成宮醴泉銘


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I'm translating 九成宮醴泉銘 in my free time. I'll post parts of it here. Suggestions on the translation are welcome and appreciated.



The Stela of the Sweet Spring at Jiucheng Palace

Composed and presented at imperial decree by the 秘書監 (imperial librarian?), chancellor, and duke(?) of Ju4lu4 Commandery Wei4 Zheng1

維貞觀六年孟夏之月,皇帝避暑於九成之宮,此則隋之仁壽宮也。冠山抗殿,絕壑為池,跨水架楹,分岩竦闕,高閣周建,長廊四起,楝宇膠葛,臺榭參差。仰視則迢遞百尋,下臨則崢嶸千仞。珠璧交映,金碧相輝,照灼雲霞,蔽虧日月。觀其移山回澗,窮泰極侈,以人從欲,良足深尤。至於炎景流金,無鬱蒸之氣; 微風徐動,有淒清之涼。信安體之佳所,誠養神之勝地。漢之甘泉,不能尚也。

In the sixth year of zheng1guan1, the fourth month, the emperor spent the summer at the Jiu3cheng2 palace. This is the Sui2 Dynasty’s Ren2shou4 palace. He built a palace covering mountains, diverted gullies to make pools, crossed rivers to erect pillars for bridges, divided rock to raise towers, constructed tall buildings all around, raised long corridors on all four sides, such that there is a jumble of buildings and the skyline is jagged with towers and pavilions. Looking up, one can see as remote as a hundred xun2. (百尋=100(八尺)=100(8(29.4cm))=235.2 meters.) Looking down, one feels as high as a thousand ren4. (仞=尋. 千仞=2352 meters.) The pearls and jade cross-reflecting, gold and green reflecting each other, are such that their brilliance could cauterize the clouds, and it is so high that it could cover the sun and moon. Seeing as its moving mountains and diverting streams, excessive grandiosity and extreme extravagance, was because of people’s debauchery, they should be thoroughly blamed. As to the burning weather that can melt metal, there is no stuffy humidity in the air. A light breeze gently blows and there is a refreshing coolness. It is certainly a sanative good place, truly a restorative beautiful superior place. Even the Han Dynasty’s Gan1quan2 palace cannot surpass it.

Edited by Hofmann
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  • 1 month later...

Is it just me or is this really purple prose?

皇帝爰在弱冠,經營四方,逮乎立年,撫臨億兆,始以武功一海內,終以文德懷遠 人。東越青邱,南逾丹徼,皆獻不琛奉贄,重譯來王。西暨輪台,北拒玄闕,並地列州縣,人充編戶,氣淑年和,邇安遠肅,群生鹹遂,靈貺畢臻。

When the emperor was twenty, he engaged in administration all over. When he was thirty he began to rule the masses, and started to use military and merit to unite the land, and finally use culture and virtue to cherish the people. The eastern barbarians of the Green Mound (legendary barbarian land across the sea) and the southern barbarians across the Red Boundary (southern border) all offered gems and presented gifts, through many translators had audiences with the emperor. To the west [his land] reaches Lun2tai2 (Bügür nahiyisi) and to the north it repels the [people of the] Black Towers (a legendary land far to the north). Combining lands and lining up administrative divisions, people fill the census. The air is warm and the [weather in the] year is mild. Near it is peaceful and far it is respectful. The many living things all play their role. Gods’ blessings all arrive.

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