top of page

陸遊《夜歸》 “Returning at Night” by Lu You (1125-1210)









Having enjoyed a meal during the day in a country tavern,

[I’m] riding horseback at night over a brook bridge.

The sky turns as the Milky Way entangles the Horn, [2]

The sea looks vast, and the Dipper hangs aslant.

In the stable, a cow is giving birth to a calf;

In the vegetable garden, a dog is chasing a badger.

Seasons of this year coming ahead of time,

The ninth month has a chill already.

* From Lu You 陸游 (1125-1209), Jiannan shigao jiaozhu 劍南詩稿校注 (Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1985), collated and annotated by Qian Zhonglian 錢仲聯, 68.3827.

[1] Red characters rhyme.

[2] Jiao 角 (horn) presumably refers to the Horn Mansion in the traditional Chinese constellations, which corresponds to part of Virgo and, like Virgo, is easily identifiable by the bright star, Spica. The poem was written in mid-autumn (1206), when the Horn typically falls under the horizon towards the evening, before the Milky Way is visible. If we assume that Lu You's depiction was based on observation, he may be suggesting the Milky Way seems to trail behind the Horn to fall under the horizon as the night sky turns. Alternatively, we may consider the Horn a metonym for the whole of the mansions of the Azure Dragon. In this case, the line would indicate that the Milky Way entangles the Azure Dragon, a possible view in this season's night sky for the Milky Way can be seen crossing the very last part of the Azure Dragon above the southwestern horizon. Qian Zhonglian associates this expression, occurring twice in Lu You's poems, with an ancient agricultural proverb: "He she jiao, kan ye zuo" 河射角,堪夜作 ([When] the river shoots the Horn, [one] may work [even] at night; i.e. it is an extremely busy season); see Cui Shi 崔寔 (d. 170), Simin yueling 四民月令:

"Songxi youqi" 松溪遊騎, anonymous artist

Image credit: National Palace Museum, Taipei

My encounter with a badger last week.


Copyright Declaration*:

The texts and images used on the website of Rachelle's Lab are either from the public domain (e.g. Wikipedia), databases with open data licenses (e.g. Shuhua diancang ziliao jiansuo xitong 書畫典藏資料檢索系統, National Palace Museum, Taipei), online libraries that permit reasonable use (e.g., or original work created for this website.

Although fair use of the website for private non-profit purposes is permitted, please note that the website of Rachelle's Lab and its content (including but not limited to translations, blog posts, images, videos, etc.) are protected under international copyright law. If you want to republish, distribute, or make derivative work based on the website content, please contact me, the copyright owner, to get written permission first and make sure to link to the corresponding page when you use it.



*Read more about copyright and permission here.



bottom of page