Poetic Yunnan 7: Three poems on Lancang River

By Gateway   |    2024-06-28 09:43:57

The Lancang River runs through western Chinese provinces of Qinghai, Xizang and Yunnan before it flows out of China and is thus called the Mekong River in the ASEAN countries. On the occasion of the just-concluded 5th Lancang-Mekong Audiovisual Week, let’s get to know three classic Yunnan poems that recorded the ancient facilities, scenic beauty and weather conditions over the Lancang River.

A modern view of the Lancang River section in west Yunnan Photo/Lincang Today

I
lán jīn qiáo nán xīn kāi zè lù xiǎn shān
兰津桥南新开仄路险山
zhāng hán
张含

lán jīn zhī nán hé cuī wéi
兰津之南何崔嵬,
shuǐ sāi zè lù pán kōng huí
水塞仄路盘空回。
jiāng fēn lǐng jìn rì yuè yì
江氛岭祲日月翳,
shān kuáng gǔ hěn yuán náo āi
山狂谷狠猿猱哀。
yán tiān fēng gāo lǚ jiàn báo
炎天风高屡见雹,
yán dōng dì jiǒng cháng wén léi
严冬地迥常闻雷。
gōu téng dú gě sì shí mào
钩藤毒葛四时茂,
yīng gē dù juān qiān shù kāi
鹦哥杜鹃千树开。

An old view of the suspension bridge at the Lancang Ferry in west Yunnan

On Newly-Opened Narrow Path in Stiff Peaks South of Lancang-Ferry Bridge
By Zhang Han

Peaks south of the Lancang Ferry stand high;
River-blocked narrow path zigzags into the sky.
Sun 'n moon are eclipsed by misty rivers 'n ridges,
Apes 'n monkeys saddened by wild cliffs 'n gorges.
Scorching summer sees amid gales hail stones;
Severe winter hears from afar thunder storms.
Uncarias and poison ivies thrive in four seasons;
Parrot flowers and azaleas bloom for all reasons.

  

A modern view of the bridges at the Lancang River Ferry in west Yunnan

Culture ABCs:
a.The poet Zhang Han (1479-1565), native to southwest Yunnan’s Baoshan city, is a successful candidate in the imperial examinations at the provincial level during the reign of emperor Zhengde in the Ming Dynasty. Lack of interest in an official career in the north, he returned to Yunnan and indulged himself in poems. Zhang Han is a close friend of Yang Shen, whose was living in exile in the province.

b.This poem gives a record of the rough transport facilities and perilous natural conditions of the Lancang River section that lies between west Yunnan’s Dali and Baoshan. There, the ancient Lancang Ferry and a suspension bridge used to be decisive facilities on the Southern Silk Road that linked southwest China to south-southeast Asia. Today, the facilities have been replaced by modern railway bridges, highway bridges and international cargo ships, making it much easier for Yunnan to connect with the neighboring countries.

c.Lines 5 and 6 are a depiction of the unusual weather in northwest Yunnan’s riverside high mountains, where hailstones are seen even in summer. On the same day, the deep valley is full of summer heat but the mountain tops are snowy.

d.Lines 7 and 8 present a blooming scene of the Lancang River in spring and summer.

  

An old view of the suspension bridge at the Lancang Ferry in west Yunnan

II
lán jīn
兰津
zēng qǐ
曾屺

xiǎn jué huán xiāng lù
险绝还乡路,
lán jīn yī shuǐ yáo
兰津一水遥。
shí yá tuí liǎng àn
石崖颓两岸,
tiě lǎn niǎo cháng qiáo
铁缆袅长桥。
shù yǐng duō hán wù
树影多寒雾,
jiāng shēng zì mù cháo
江声自暮潮。
āi yuán tí bú zhù
哀猿啼不住,
dǒu jué lǚ hún xiāo
陡觉旅魂销。

  

A modern view of the bridges at the Lancang River Ferry in west Yunnan

Lancang Ferry
By Zeng Qi

Perilous is my home-return way,
Lancang Ferry lying one river away.
Both banks are dwarfed by stone cliffs,
A long bridge rolled up by iron cables.
Tree shadows mostly in cold fog hide;
The river sounds come from dusk tide.
Sad apes are crying constantly;
I lose my travel mood instantly.

Culture ABCs:
a.The poet Zeng Qi, native to south Yunnan’s Jianshui county, is a 1779 deputy tribute student during the reign of emperor Qianlong in the Qing Dynasty. This poem presents the scenic beauty of the ancient Lancang Ferry and iron-rope bridge in west Yunnan, as well as the poet’s traveling experience there.

  

Tourists have leisure on the Lancang River section in west Yunnan.

III
lán cāng zá yì cí
澜沧杂忆辞
huáng ēn xī
黄恩锡

yì cuì lóu xī yōng dà guān
挹翠楼西拥大观,
pái kōng yù sǔn chū yún duān
排空玉笋出云端。
guài lái yán xià qīng rén gǔ
怪来炎夏清人骨,
xiāo shòu cāng jiāng liù yuè hán
消受沧江六月寒。

  

An old view of the suspension bridge at the Lancang Ferry in west Yunnan

Memories on Lancang River
By Huang Enxi

Grand views gather west of Yicui Bower;
Soaring snow peaks above clouds tower.
It’s queer my bones in summer heat shiver;
In sixth moon I feel chill of the Lancang River.

Culture ABCs:
a.The poet Huang Enxi, native to northwest Yunnan’s Yongsheng county, is a successful candidate in the highest imperial examinations in 1752, during the reign of emperor Qianlong in the Qing Dynasty. This poem presents the scenic beauty and summer weather of the Lancang River section in west Yunnan.

b.Yicui Bower in line 1 used to be a place of interests near the Lancang River, but now it's unknown.

 

A modern view of the bridges at the Lancang River Ferry in west Yunnan

Chinese sources: The books of Yunnan in Classic Poems and Selected Yunnan Poems and Lyrics in Past Dynasties; Photo sources: Yunnan Daily and Douyin; Trans-editing by Wang Shixue

Poetic Yunnan 7: Three poems on Lancang River