The Drunken Song on Stone Fish Lake 1 (with Its Prologue)

Yuan, Jie 2 (715 A.D.-772 A.D.)

    I have brewed wine from the rice produced by the state-owned fields. On my day off, I often order a boat to carry wine around the lake, and have a party on the surrounding islets. When we want to drink, we simply stretch our arms to ladle wine from the boat which travels around to entertain all my guests. I imagine that I lean on Ba 3 Mountain and pour wine on Jun 4 Mountain, that my guests sit around Lake Dong-tin 5, and that the wine boat rides on the waves, coming and going. Consequently, I am writing this poem to add to the fun.

Stone Fish Lake is like Lake Dong-tin.
Jun Mountain is green when the summer water is at its highest.
We consider the mountain valley a chalice and the lake a wine pond.
My animated guest sit around on the islets.
Strong wind continues to create huge waves for several days,
But it cannot stop the boat from carrying wine around.
To diffuse my worry,
I sit on Ba Mountain and hold a long gourd ladle
To pour out wine for the surrounding guests.

1 Stone Fish Lake was located southeast of present day Dao City in Hunan Province. The Preface of The Poetry on Stone Fish Lake, written by Jie Yuan, says, "There is an outstanding stone on southern Hui Creek. It is shaped like a swimming fish. The cavity in the top of the stone fish can store wine. Surrounding Stone Fish Lake there are beautiful connected stones. People may sit on them. The water can float a small wine boat and can also flow around the stone fish. Therefore, we call the lake "Stone Fish Lake'".

2 Jie Yuan's ancestor was originally from the Tuo-ba family of the Xian-bei people (Manchu). During Emperor Xiao-wen's reign in the Northern Wei dynasty, the family changed their surname to a name of the Han people, Yuan. Yuan's ancestors first lived in Tai-yuan (in present day Shanxi Province). Later, they moved to Lu-shan (in present day Henan Province). In 754 A.D., Yuan passed the Advanced Exam. He fought against the troops of the rebel generals, An and Shi, and earned military honors. Later, he was appointed Mayor of Dao City. He excelled at writing poetry and literary essays. He was a pioneer in promoting Chinese literary classics and a new school of poetry. His poems reflected the reality of contemporary society. He opposed the restrictions of rhythms and forms in poetry.

3 Ba Mountain was at the southern corner of present day Yue-yang City in Hunan Province.

4 Jun Mountain was present day Xiang Mountain in the middle of Lake Dong-tin.

5 Lake Dong-tin is the largest lake in China.