Cui Tu (崔塗, 최도, 854-?) was a poet and late Tang dynasty (唐, 당, 618-907) bureaucrat. He was born in Jiangnan (江南, 강남); his courtesy name was Lishan (禮山, 예산). In 888, he passed the civil service examination and attained a bureaucratic position, but not much is known about his time in government. During the latter years of his life, he wandered about various regions across China and composed poetry about his travels and hardships. Cui Tu’s poems were renowned and two of his poems were selected for the anthology, Three Hundred Tang Poems (唐詩三百首, 당시삼백수), one of the most popular historical anthologies of Classical Chinese poetry. One of these two records his thoughts just before the Lunar New Year, which falls on February 19 this year.
Thoughts on New Year’s Eve
Steep and winding are the trails of Sanba (三巴, 삼파);
Strange and perilous it is to the body that has traveled ten thousand Li (里, 리).
Amid the rumpled mountains covered by snow, during nightfall,
An isolated and lonely man of a different hometown.
Gradually, he becomes distant from his bone and flesh;
Repeatedly, he is close with his attendants and servants.
How can one endure to putting an end to his wandering and lodging?
Tomorrow, the year shall be new.
Steep • winding • three • Ba state • road
Visitor • dangerous • ten thousand • Li • body
Disorderly • mountains • to remain • snow • night
Isolated • alone • different • village • man
Gradually • with • bone • flesh • distant
Repeatedly • to • servant • servant • close
How • endure • to stop • to float • to lodge
Next • day • year • bright • new
- Pentasyllabic regulated poem (五言律詩, 오언율시). Riming character (韻, 운) is 眞(진).
- 三巴(삼파) – An old name for the region around modern day Chongqing (重慶, 중경) in Sichuan Province. It refers to the old Ba state (巴, 파, ?-316BC) that ruled the area during the Warring States Period (戰國時代, 전국시대).
- 里(리) – A natural unit of measuring distances. One li was originally 360 paces (步, 보). During the Tang Dynasty period, one Li was approximately 323 meters.
- Korean translations available here.