Ouyang Xiu: The Pavilion of Plenty and Happiness ~ 《丰乐亭记》 欧阳修 with English Translations

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《丰乐亭记》 欧阳修


The Pavilion of Plenty and Happiness
Ouyang Xiu

I did not know the sweet taste of the spring water in Chuzhou until the second summer after I came here to govern. I asked the local people and learned that its fountainhead was only about a hundred footsteps south from Chuzhou. Above it was the Mountain of Plenty, which rose upright and high. Below it was a deep and secluded valley, the depth of which was immeasurable. Midway was a spring which gushed upwards in torrents. I was pleased to look at it from all directions. Then I had the waterway dredged, rocks chiseled, and a flat space opened up. On it a pavilion was built, which I used to visit with the people of Chuzhou.
During the armed conflicts of the Five Dynasties, Chuzhou was a place where many battles had been fought. In former times, Emperor Taizu, leading an army of the Later Zhou Dynasty, defeated at the foot of Qingliu Mountain an army of one hundred and fifty thousand soldiers under the leadership of Li Jing, the Emperor of the Southern Tang Dynasty. Then Emperor Taizu restored order in Chuzhou afer capturing alive Huangfu Hui and Yao Feng outside its eastern city gate. I had inspected the mountain and the river around the place, climbed high to look at the gate of Qingliu Pass, and with the help of a map and records prepared beforehand, tried to locate the place where Huangfu Hui and Yao Feng were captured. But the old people who might know something about the fighting were all dead. For many years had passed since the country began to enjoy peace.
China was torn asunder after the last Emperor of the Tang Dynasty lost his power. Warlords surged up and fought with one another. Countries hostile to each other were too numerous to count. When the Song Dynasty received the mandate of Heaven , the Sage came out and the country was unified. Those warlords who had ruled different districts by relying on their strategic terrains were gradually wiped out. In the past one hundred years there had been peace everywhere. What I saw was the high mountain and clear water. None of the old people who could describe the past events survived. Chuzhou was situated between the Yangtze and the Huai rivers. No ships, carriages, merchants, and visitors from anywhere came. Its people had no contact with the outside world. They were contented with their rural life of simple food and clothing and never had anything to worry about. They did not know that they owed all this to the benevolence of the emperors whose recuperative and rehabilitating policy had benefited the people for a hundred years.
After I came here, I liked the place for its seclusion and its simple affairs of the government. I also liked the people’s leisurely and carefree manner. Since I had found this clear spring, I used to come here with the people of Chuzhou. We would look up at the mountain and look down to listen to the murmuring of the spring. We would pluck wild flowers and rest in the shade of the trees. During the frosty and icy season, the place looked more pretty and graceful. It was lovable all year round. And, luckily the local people, happy with a good harvest, liked to enjoy themselves together with me. Therefore, while describing the beauty of nature, I praised the local people’s simple and pure life style. I want the people to know that it was because they were living in times of peace that they were able to enjoy plentiful years. Since the duty of a cishi was to sing the praises of the Emperor’s kindness and to share with people in their happiness, I wrote this essay and named the pavilion after it.

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