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公孫詭《文鹿賦》“Poetic Exposition on a Patterned Deer” by Gongsun Gui (d. 148 BCE)


“Poetic Exposition on a Patterned Deer” by Gongsun Gui (d. 148 BCE)

麀鹿濯濯, A doe, plump and pleased, [1]

來我槐庭, Calls on my pagoda tree courtyard,

食我槐葉, Dines on my pagoda tree leaves,

懷我德聲。 And salutes me with sounds of virtue. [2]

質如緗縟, Against [her] coat like an amber cushion,

文如素綦。 Is a pattern of white chess-stones.[3]

呦呦相召, Yo-yo, [she] calls to her companions,

《小雅》之詩。 [As in] the poem from the Lesser Court Hymns.[4]

歎丘山之比歲, [I] sigh for the mountains, year in year out,

逢梁王於一時。 And come upon the Prince of Liang, here and now.[5]

* From Xijing zaji 西京雜記, attributed to Liu Xin 劉歆 (c. 50-23 BCE) or Ge Hong 葛洪 (283-343), Sibu congkan chubian 四部叢刊初編 vol. 461 (Shanghai: Shangwu yinshuguan, 1919), 4.4a:

[1] This line comes from the poem “Lingtai” 靈臺 in the Shijing 詩經, see: My reading here follows the glosses in the standard commentaries; see Maoshi zhengyi 毛詩正義:

[2] These two lines hark back to the third and fourth lines in the last stanza of the poem “Panshui” 泮水 in the Shijing: “Shi wo sangshen, huai wo haoyin” 食我桑黮,懷我好音 (Dines on my mulberries, / Salutes me with fine notes); see:

[3] The juxtaposition of zhi 質 (base; substance) and wen 文 (pattern; decoration) here recalls a gentleman’s pursuit of the balance between solid qualities and surface ornament; see Lunyu:

[4] This alludes to the poem “Luming” 鹿鳴 in the “Xiaoya” section of the Shijing, famously starting with the onomatopoeia youyou 呦呦; see: Because of this classical reference, this onomatopoeia and the barking of deer have become common symbols in literature for a call for friends or like-minded people (especially as invitees for a gathering or a banquet).

[5] Prince of Liang refers to Liu Wu 劉武 (c. 184-144 BCE), the host of the gathering where Gongsun Gui composed this poetic exposition. Just like other guests’ compositions on this occasion, Gongsun Gui’s work concludes with the present scene and speaks of the host in laudatory terms. His ending lines presumably lament the past years he has spent in reclusion and express his gratitude for being invited to the prince’s gathering.

Album leaf by Mou Zhongfu 牟仲甫 (fl. 12th-13th century), depicting two sika deer (Cervus nippon) that are native to East Asia.

The roe deer that frequents the oak tree near my window.


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2 則留言

Can relate. Those pesky animal eat all my plants too.


So your have a garden brimming with virtues...

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