Another Visit to the West Lake
Translated by Swan (Taken from www.cybervip.net/learn0112.htm)
1. Writers compare high mountains to the young mother’s rounded
breasts while poets compare lakes to the beauty’s bright eyes.
2. I love rivers as well as lakes, regarding it as a paramount treat to go
boating on the lake.
3. I spent my childhood and early youth on the shores of the so-called
36000-qing Taihu Lake, which left me with an unforgettable
impression. Young visitors and I once roamed around the South Lake
in Jiaxing and the Thin West Lake in Yangzhou. In 1954 Central
South Writers’ Association was established on the East Lake in
Wuhan, whose village-girl-like disorderly and ragged simplicity of
beauty won my admiration. Jianhu Lake in Lu Xun’s hometown is
transparent like a mirror. Owing to her geographical conditions and
some other particular factors, I came across the East Qianhu Lake in
Zhengxian County, Zhejiang Province, as though I had discovered an
unknown matchless beauty “locked in the boudoir”....
4. Among the numerous beautiful lakes, the most famous is none other
than the West Lake in Hangzhou, a beauty without an equal.
5. It was in the spring of 1957 that I visited the West Lake for the first
time, accompanied by the young writer Mr. L. We took a train from
Shanghai to Hangzhou, whose old and shabby railway station greeted
us. On a tricycle I became rather disappointed: lacking in street
scenes, Hangzhou was only just so-so!
6. Past quite a few narrow lanes and old roads, the tricycle carried us to
the lakeside. Before our eyes lay a rippling large blue lake, as if a fair,
slim and graceful beauty had descended from heaven. The tricycle
pulled up on the shore. In the distant, sunset-bathed hills and towers
reminded us of the fairyland and we couldn’t help cheering in the
heart: “How beautiful the West Lake is!”
7. In the past forty years, I’ve repeatedly visited Hangzhou. This
mid-autumn, together with my wife, my son and daughter-in-law, I
came to the West Lake once again.
8. We four stayed in a hostel near the flower nursery on the Lake.
Scarcely had we settled our luggage when we shouted excitedly, “Go
and see the West Lake!”
9. The West Lake was just as bright and beautiful as before, with clear,
blue ripples; the sunset-bathed hills and towers in the distant were the
same. (Except that the sightseer grew old!)
10. Early the next morning, after washing and dressing briefly we came
to the lakeside and chose a tea-booth from which we were able to
view the whole landscape. Seated here, we ordered a bowl of
sweet-scented osmanthus and lotus root paste and a cup of longjing
tea for each. We sat there quietly enjoying the lakeside scenery. At
that moment there were few visitors and the thin fog on the lake had
not dispersed yet. The West Lake was really like a maiden who hadn’t
put on makeup in the morning, amorously and quietly glancing
11. I sat there dumbstruck till we left at noon for Zhiwei Guan on the
lakeside to eat fish with sour sauce and soup of lotus root, which we
really felt delicious.
12. On the lake once again, this time, however, we were in a small boat
drifting here and there, instead of visiting the numerous “scenic
spots” into which jostling crowds of sightseers had poured.
13. On the pleasure-boat, we were separated by the board from the
transparent water, on which the boat was gliding buoyantly. At times I
asked the boat woman to rest the oars, leaving the boat alone.... An
ancient poem flashed in my mind:
14. “Having retired from the public life, I can do nothing for the royal
government, for there will be patriotic persons of merit in the
imperial court. Just go and boat on Qiantang Lake, chanting with
freezing irony and drinking idly for the next few years.”...
15. The small boat had floated on the lake for two or three hours before
the sun was setting in. The sunset was reflected in the velvet surface
of the lake and brought out soft shades of green and gold, which
made the lake all the more beautiful. It was getting dark and the boat
was anchored at the white dyke. After going ashore we footed it back
all the way along the white dyke, looking about, and I could not but
utter ravings, “It’s hard on the king of the South!”....
16. On reaching our hostel, it was dark. We opened the door and a strong
fragrance of osmanthus greeted us. It suddenly occurred to me that
there were orange osmanthuses all over the city of Hangzhou and that
it was the season when the scent of the flowers wafted about. Now I
truly understood the line, “I was lucky enough to see it in old age; this
trip is really worthy of the travelling expenses.”