Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Another Fisherman

This poem about a fisherman is to the tune The Immortal of Linjiang (臨江仙).

Like the previous fisherman poems, this one paints the fisherman’s home as the outdoor landscape in which he fishes, and like 11.1 this one has the fisherman trade his catch for wine.

nimaha butara niyalma    Fisherman
Staatsbibliothek 11.80 (View Online)
suman weren hūwai seme,    Mist and ripples swirl,
mini beye boo hūwa,    around me, my home, my garden.
baha nimaha sampa,    The fish and shrimp we’ve caught,
nure udafi,    let’s trade them for wine,

sasa omica,

    and drink together.

niša baturu kiyangkiyan,    Cast strength, bravery and heroism
boljon ici waliya,    on the waves.
bi jalan ci jailaha,    I have hidden from the world,
gucu ulai su,    my friends are the whirlwinds of the river,
10 hoki alin biya.    my companions, the mountains and moon.

Translation Notes

boljon ici waliya. The use of ici in this line is interesting, reminiscent of the use of ci in Sibe to mean “towards.”


  1. These certainly are wise fishermen - who needs shrimp when you can have wine instead!

    But might his companions be the mountains and the moon, not the mountains and the streams (it certainly looks like a biya not a bira to me)?

  2. You're absolutely right, it is "moon" and not "river". Thank you for pointing that out!

  3. I understand the first verses quite differently, in the sense that it seems to me that the fish and shrimp arre part of the description and the last two verses don't mention trading them:
    Mist and ripples surging,
    Me, my home, my garden,
    Fish and shrimp that have been caught.
    let’s buy wine,
    and drink together.

    1. In reading the fish and shrimp as being traded for wine, I was influenced by one of the earlier fishing poems, which says 'nimaha niša / nure hūlašacina'. Overall your reading is probably better supported because I can't think of any time that I've seen 'udambi' meaning 'to trade'.