The poem may be translated:
The willow crackles now, its earlier
green bitten by the frost;
Like a rainbow on the water, the
reflected bridge hangs down.
Drinking deeply we feel the sorrow of our
Tomorrow our paths will part—yours to the
west, mine to the east.
Your laughter will be gone, and we,
reminded, ungrateful for full moons;
Sticking to fair winds, your journey
will be safe and sound.
Back home you will talk of how you passed the time,
Until the candle on the stand has burned its wick away.
Being the preface, Dai Guan's inscription occupies first place in this scroll and in the original arrangement. It reads:
My junior clansman from Xiunong, Master Dai Zhao is a man of excellent disposition in the prime of youth. When I was teaching at the Shaoxing Prefectural Academy, his father, Ziduan and I enjoyed the good relations born of sharing the same ancestral stock. Our dealings were marked by deep sincerity, both in terms of affection and duty. Ziduan is however, a merchant by profession and spends ninety percent of the time away from home, so that he is not able to look after Zhao closely. Fearful that Zhao might become derelict in his studies and thus spoil his innate potential, he brought Zhao to Wu (Suzhou) and looked for a teacher to give him instruction. At first he studied the Book of Odes with Tang Yin, but then grew fearful that he would not understand the meaning of (the phrase) "to sum it up in a work". Thereupon he went to study the Book of Changes with Xue Shiqi. When Shiqi left to take up an official post, Zhao continued his studies under Lei Qitong until finished.
As a person, Zhao is humble and circumspect in word and action. He cleaves to virtuous, sagely men and is fond of scholars, in consequence of which Zhao was able to make friends with Shen Zhou, Yang Xunzhi and Zhu Yunming, all famous scholars of the Wu region. This friendship was a kind that forgot about (distinctions) in age or affection. When Zhao's studies had gradually arrived at a point of consolidation, he had already been away from home for a long time and he could not fail to have thoughts of his parental home. As he was about to take his leave, we gathered together to compose poems of farewell for him. Zhunjian's (Yang Xunzhi) verse says "The hanging rainbow sweeps across your passing sails". The scroll has accordingly been titled "Farewell at the Hanging Rainbow". The hanging rainbow is a famous stone bridge in the Wu area. This must be the place where we see off Zhao, for it allows those who come to see him off to return to the city by evening.
Zhao came himself to ask me to write a preface. I say "If a man is to make his way in the world, nothing should take precedence over learning. If one does not devote himself to learning, then even though he might be rich and noble he will still be bound by a body of flesh and blood. If wealthy, he would destroy propriety and cause chaos in the customs of the land, while if he were of noble rank he would bring ruin to government and oppression to the people. What use would wealth or nobility have then? When such a person dies, everyone would spit on him and revile him ceaselessly. Whenever he goes he will be like the solitary goose in snow or mud, who leaves tracks easily erased. And people will think of him as being inhuman. But only when one makes advances in learning as a youth, with a clear understanding of the inner principles and will cultivation of personal morality, will he then be filial at home and brotherly when serving abroad. His behavior will be respectful and his speech trustworthy. Though impoverished, he will improve his household and consolidate public morals. When he goes forth on official service he will be loyal to his lord and bring benefit to the people.
In life he transforms others while in death, others remember him. Wherever he goes men praise him and make him the subject of their songs. This is not a matter of private partiality but is the open way of rightness found in men's hearts. And it is the strict, upright way of both ancient and modern times."
Zhao came to the Wu region and made it his duty to understand the classics and to concentrate on learning. The scholarly gentlemen of Wu likewise took pleasure in his company, and when he was about to leave, bade him farewell with poems. They are something for Zhao to re-experience at other times and are the point of departure for making people think of and miss him. Otherwise, could it be that these words dedicated to Zhao should be so purposeless! When you have returned home and recounted my words to your father, brothers and clansmen, I think they will consider what I have said to be so.
Zhao's familiar-name (zi) is Mingfu. We both share in being descendants of Duke Dai Zhou of the Tang dynasty. Zhao belongs to an old and honorable family of Shuangxi, Anhui.
(Dated) on the auspicious morning of mid-autumn of the wuzhen year (1508) of the Zhengde era.
Xinan is a journey of ten days,
Good for touring a thousand leagues.
Boundless is your ambition to see the world over;
With sword in hand, yours is a spirit
seasoned and strong.
Yesterday I talked with my nephew
whom I chanced to meet.
Learning of your return to home between
the tail of Chu and head of Wu.
No need for the lute's sounds of sorrow
at Xunyang's outer banks;
Just moor your boat, laden with scrolls,
along the wide river.
Sailing with the morn, where will you
head skimming lightly with the breeze,
Perhaps to Yellow Crane Hall, where the
flute sounds a solitary tune.
Zhu's signature reads Changzhou Zhu Cunli, and is followed by his seal reading Yefang (square, relief).
The third inscription is a poem by Zhu Yunming. The text of his short poem reads:
Though Jiangnan's striking scenery, hand
in hand we go.
Tapping stone railings, our sleeves linger
Within your breast has always lived a long rainbow,
Which, once released, will pattern
imperial robes and badges.
Zhu's signature reads Zhu Yunming. His seal reading Baoshan zhenyi (square relief) is impressed over the last two characters of the signature.
The fourth poem was written by Wu Long. His poem may be rendered:
Our first meeting, I remember when,
goes back to Huacun,
But now I suffer to set in words my sigh
for your farewell.
The plaintive bird, its cry fades in
regret for your going;
Quickened by a cool wind, we honor the
Three Lofty Ones.
The fifth poem was composed by Wen Zhengming:
Cherishing thoughts of home, our long-time
visitor takes leave of old acquaintances;
While the little boat, tied upon the river
seems almost ready to go.
Of all the passions here, most ardent is
the moon at the hanging rainbow,
Shining from far, far, a thousand leagues,
upon our farewell.
He signs himself Changzhou Wen Bi. His seal reading Zhengming (square relief) follows his signature.
The seventh poem is by Chen Jian (active 15th–16th century):
Farewell at the river's edge, water
reflecting the skies above;
Your solitary boat dim in the distance
sails off from the Hanging Rainbow
Late autumn already, boundless, my
thoughts turn to maples along the shore,
For I should like to do a poem afresh for you,
but known, alas, it will never be apt.
Chen signs himself Chenhu Chen Jian. This signature is followed by a single seal reading Dayi (square, intaglio).
[Trans. Marc F. Wilson/ Kuan S. Wong]
Eight inscription: poem by Yang Xunzhi (1458–1546)
Ninth inscription: poem by Lian Tongbi
Tenth inscription: poem by Lu Tai
Eleventh inscription: poem by Zhu Xi (d. 1558–60)
Twelfth inscription: poem by Yu Jin
Thirteenth inscription: poem by a Buddhist monk, Wu shi Dexuan
Fourteenth inscription: poem by Xing Xhen.
Fifteenth inscription: poem by Zhu Cunli
Sixteenth inscription: poem by Gu Fu (1438–1508) signed the year of his death.
Eighteenth inscription: poem by Pu Yingxiang
Nineteenth and final inscription: poem by Lu Nan, early 16th century
Marking: Collectors' seals:
Xiang Yuanbian (1525–1590)
Geng Zhaozhong (1640–1686)
Qianlong Emperor (r. 1736–95)
Wu Puxin (20th century)
John M. Crawford, Jr.
Unidentified, 4 seals