Thursday, September 27, 2018

A roadside wine shop

This is another Grebenshchikov poem describing a wine shop waiting for business at the end of the day.

wenjehūn boo-i duka bade birgan yohoron bakcilafi,
alin weilefi orho suiha banjihangge ser seme,
fai hanci mei hūwa ilhai, gui bonggo fushuhebi,
ajige fai juleri janda moo de sakda muduri deduhebi,
iolehe sahaliyan dere de budun malu faidame sindahabi,
suwayan boihon-i ilbaha fude nurei enduri irgebuhe, antaha be niruhabi,
emu defe boso be lakiyafi šahūrun edun de maksimbi,
juwe gisun-i irgebun arafi dulere antaha be elbimbi,
        yargiyan-i sain morin be yalufi, yabure urse sa wabe donjime morin be tatambi,
        edun de pun tukiyehe urse amtan be safi ciowan be ilibumbi,

At the gate of a lively house, opposite a creek and a canal,
having worked in the hills, the grower of grass and artemisia is quiet,
while by the window the jade tips of the plum blossoms bloom.
In the pine tree before the small window an old dragon is sleeping.
On the black lacquer table jugs and bottles are lined up.
On the yellow stucco wall are verses to the wine god, painted by a guest.
Someone has hung a length of cloth, and it dances on the cold wind.
Two lines of verse beckon to passing guests:
        “Truly, riding on fine steeds, travelers hear of the aroma and whip their horses,
         Those whose sails are lifted by the wind, learning of the flavor, weigh anchor.”

Translation Notes

janda moo. I have taken this to be a mistake for jakdan moo, “pine tree,” but it is also possible that this is the name of another tree.

ciowan be ilibumbi. From context, this seems like it ought to be a nautical term related to setting out in a boat or hurrying in a boat. Possibly it is a calque from Chinese, in which case we would expect to find *li quan (立?). I have made a guess at “weigh anchor” but it could as easily have something to do with sails, oars or mooring.


  1. I would take ciowan be ilibumbi literally ‘to stop the boat’, with the last two verses showing two groups of people being drawn to the inn:
    ‘Riders hearing of the aroma whip their horses [to arrive faster at the inn],
    Sailors learning of the flavor, stop their boat [to stop by the inn].’

    Also, I'm not sure I understand alin weilefi.

    1. I thought about reading 'ciowan' as an error for 'cuwan' (boat), but that would involve two separate mistakes in writing, first adding the 'i' and second omitting the dot next to the 'u'. You may be right, but I think it is also possible that there is a Chinese word 'quan' that is intended here.

      As for alin weilembi, I don't really understand the entire line. Maybe the the 'grower of grass and artemesia' refers to water which, having coming down in streams from the mountains, grows quiet in the canal opposite the inn.

    2. Ah, true. I was thinking more along the lines of some phonetic (dialectical?) variation between standard cuwan and ciowan. I'll see if examples of something of the kind can be found.

    3. I have done some random checks in non-standard texts but I haven't been able to find anything to support a variation (c)u > (c)io.
      There are however a couple of interesting things in the 清語易言 (1766), in the section contrasting the spelling and the actual pronunciation of words. It indicates that jui was pronunced gioi and that jio was pronunced ju.