Notes on the Yueyang Tower
In the spring of the fourth year of Qingli (A.D.1044), Teng Zijing was demoted to Yuezhou prefecture chief. By the next year the administration was functioning, people were harmonious and all neglected tasks were being undertaken. Then the Yueyang Tower was renovated by expanding its existing scale and inscribing the poetries and proses of the Tang Dynasty and contemporaries on the walls. I was entrusted to write an essay to commemorate this matter.
I can see the beautiful scenery of Yuezhou prefecture is focused on Dongting Lake, which connects the hills of distant place and swallows the river water of the Yangtze River. It's so huge and vast that it seems boundless. In the morning the sunlight is beautiful and in the evening the sky is overcast, making the scenery of Yueyang Tower ever-changing. This is the grand sight of Yueyang Tower that has been described in great detail by predecessors. Nevertheless, the disgraced officials and poets often gather here, because this place is leading to the Wu Gorge to the north and until Xiao River and Xiang River to the south. Should there be no difference in their feelings caused by seeing the same situations?
In the rainy season, sometimes for a whole month there is no sunny day, chilly wind gusts, and turbid waves rush toward the sky, hiding the sun and the stars shining, and concealing the mountains' shape. This lake is impassable for businessmen and tourists, mast is collapsed, and oars are broken. In the evening the sky is darkened, the tigers are growling and the apes are crying. At this time climbing the Yueyang Tower, people should have the feeling for leaving the Capital, missing home, fearing slander and criticism. At this time the observed scenes are so depressing that they are feeling extreme sad.
As for the warm spring, the sun is shining brightly, and the lake is calming. The lake and sky come to mingle with each other, as if the watery blue is reaching far beyond the horizon. The Sandpipers sometimes fly and sometimes rest, and beautiful fishes swim in the lake. The dense grasses along the lakeshores and orchids on the sandbar give forth their fragrance. Sometimes mist and clouds are completely dissipated, and the moonlight is freely streaming down, spilling golden lights on the lake surface. When there is no wind, quiet shadow of the moon is like a jade submerged in the water. Fishermen's songs are echoing each other, so the fun should never end! At this time climbing the Yueyang Tower, people should be completely relaxed and happy to disregard all favors or humiliations, and raise winebowls in the wind, beaming with joy!
Alas! I had sought the thoughts of the ancient man described as having noble character. They were perhaps different from these two moods. Why? They didn’t joy or sorrow because of the stand or fall of foreign object and the personal gain or loss. When they were in high position at the Imperial Court, they would worry about the populace, and when they were far away from the Capital, they would worry about the Emperor. Therefore, they were worrying when promoted, and they were worrying too when demoted. In this case, when were they happy? They should say: "To be the first to worry and to be the last to enjoy pleasure in the world is our credo." Alas! If there were no such persons, whom would I accompany with?
This article is written on September 15 of the sixth year of Qingli (A.D.1046).