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Lu Yu: Summer Evening, Floating Boats Are My Writing Places

Summer Evening, Floating Boats Are My Writing Places

夏 夜 泛 舟 书 所 见
山 房 犹 复 畏 炎 蒸
长 掩 柴 门 愧 老 僧。
两 桨 去 摇 东 浦 月
一 龛 回 望 上 方 灯。
惊 飞 宿 鸟 时 呼 侣
腾 起 长 鱼 有 脱 罾。
夜 半 归 来 步 松 影
真 成 赤 脚 踏 层 冰。
Xia Ye Fan Zhou Shu Suo Jian

Shan fang you fu wei yan zheng
Chang yan chai men kui lao seng.
Liang jiang qu yao dong pu yue
Yi kan hui wang shang fang deng.

Jing fei su niao shi hu lu
Teng qi chang yu you tuo zeng.
Ye ban gui lai bu song ying
Zhen cheng chi jiao ta ceng bing.


Summer Evening, Floating Boats Are My Writing Places

Even my mountain house is hot and humid
Long time my rickety wooden door closed, a bit ashamed like an old Buddhist monk.
Pulling two oars to view the moon at Dongpu
Turn around, gaze into the distance near a shrine with one lantern.

Overnight birds startled, squawk to their friends
Fishing net and supporting poles, long fish jumped out to safety.
Evening half gone, returned to walk under the pine tree shadows
Truly, my path like bare feet walking upon layers of ice.



Written in the summer of 1163 during the beginning of the new emperor’s reign, Xiaozong. He called Lu Yu back to the palace as a supervisor of editors. Lu was offered the opportunity to take a higher level of imperial exam. Because some of his essay answers included criticisms sensitive to the emperor, he was exiled to Zhengjiang, Jiangsu province. This assignment not to Lu Yu’s liking, he went home and attended to a Mt. Mei ancestral shrine.

Lines five and six: Like many ancient Chinese poems, these lines can interpreted literally or figuratively. The birds are members of the palace elite who had to quickly move about as a new emperor was taking over. Only the big fish, the highest ranking officials are able to escape the negative changes of a new imperial administration. Lu You was not one of them.

Like bare feet walking upon layers of ice: Inspired from a poem written by the famous Tang Dynasty poet Du Fu. The line can also be translated as:
bright red feet walking on layers of ice.

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