Liu Zongyuan: The Song of the Caged Goshawk (From Classical Chinese)

The Song of the Caged Goshawk1
By Liu Zongyuan
Translated by A.Z. Foreman
Click to hear me read the original in my version of what Medieval Chinese sounded like
Click here to hear me read it in Modern Mandarin pronunciation

High in the hiss of shrill chill winds, in league with roughneck frost,
The skyward-striking scouring goshawk veers through dawnlit day.
Thick mists are riven, closed clouds cleft, the rainbow hacked in half.
He thunders by, bolts, blazes, skims low hills and is away.

The fell swoosh of his killstroke quills cuts through the thorn and bush,
He falls to poach a fox or hare then soars, long gone, in gray.
With fur-flung claws and blood-drunk beak, scourge of a billion birds,
He stands alone, and scans the world- the fierce, proud Lord of Prey.

Then molten months and blistering winds burst on him unawares.
His moulted feathers fall. Hewn in the heart, he broods at bay.
The grassborn rats and cats he prized become his persecution.
Ten times a night he stares about in shellshock and dismay.

"I have one wish: for fall to blow the sky-high note of freedom.2
I'd moult this fettering cage, scale clouds and go my wild winged way."

Notes:

1- The goshawk in China, like the falcon in Europe, is the hunting-bird par excellence. As such, when not being used to hunt, such as during the hunting off-season, they were caged to prevent them from flying off.

2- i.e. when the goshawk will be allowed out to hunt and fly again.

The Original:
The Medieval Chinese is transcribed using a system devised by prof. David Branner

Han Characters 

籠鷹詞 
柳宗元  

淒風淅瀝飛嚴霜 
蒼鷹上擊翻曙光 
雲披霧裂虹蜺斷 
霹靂掣電捎平岡 
砉然勁翮翦荊棘 
下攫狐兔騰蒼茫 
爪毛吻血百鳥逝 
獨立四顧時激昂 
炎風溽暑忽然至 
羽翼脫落自摧藏 
草中狸鼠足為患 
一夕十顧驚且傷 
但願清商複為假 
拔去萬累雲間翔 
Medieval Chinese 

lung1b eng3 zi3d
lóu3b tsung1c ngwan3a

tshei4 pung3b seik4 leik4 pi3a ngam3a srang3
tshang1 eng3 dzyàng3 keik4 phan3a dzyùo3b kwang1
ghwen3a phi3bx mùo3c lat3b ghung1b ngei4 dwán1
pheik4 leik4 tshyat3b dàn4 srau2 being3a kang1
hweik2a nyan3b kèing3b gheik2b tsán3b keing3a kek3
ghà2 kwak3 ghuo1 thùo1 deng1 tshang1 mang1
tsráu2 màu1 mén3a hwat4 peik2a táu4 dzyèi3b
duk1b lep33c kùo1 dzyi3d keik4 ngang1
gham3bx pung3b nyuk3c syúo3b hwet1 nyan3b tsyì3c
ghúo3c yek3 thwat1 lak1 dzì3c dzwei1a dzang1
tshàu1 trung3b li3d syúo3b tsuk3c ghwi3bx hwàn2a
et3by zeik3b dzyep3 kùo1 keing3a tshá3 syang3
dàn1 ngwàn3a tsheing3b syang3 puk3b ghwì3bx2
bat1 khùo3b màn3a lwì3b ghwen3a kan2b zang3
Modern Chinese 

lóng yīng cí 
Liǔzōngyuán  

Qī fēng xīlì fēi yán shuāng,   
cāngyīng shàngjí fān shù guāng. 
Yún pī wù liè hóng ní duàn,  
pīlì chè diàn shāo pínggāng. 
Huò rán jìng hé jiǎn jīngjí,  
xià jué hú tù téng cāngmáng. 
Zhǎo máo wěn xuè bǎi niǎo shì,  
dúlì sìgù shí jīáng. 
Yán fēng rùshǔ hū rán zhì,  
yǔyì tuōluò zì cuī cáng. 
Cǎo zhōng lí shǔ zú wéihuàn,  
yī xī shí gù jīng qiě shāng.  
Dàn yuàn qīng shāng fù wèi jià,  
bá qù wàn lèi yúnjiān xiáng.  

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