木蘭辭 (Mulan Ballad)

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I ran into this funny poem:

雄兔腳撲朔,
雌兔眼迷離,
兩兔傍地走,
安能辨我是雄雌?
 (from Mulan Ballad)
male hare fuss about,
female hare feign befuddlement,
a couple hares running along,
how can you tell my sex?
 (translation by Xah Lee)

The interesting thing is how does one translate the “撲朔” and “迷離”; what do they really mean? Some web search found me this reference:

傳統中國文學電子報第八十期 (traditional Chinese literature online periodical 80th issue) 2001-05-04 @ 〔http://www.literature.idv.tw/news/n-80.htm〕. ( Local copy @ hare_love.txt)

撲 Translate ◇ Wiktionary ◇ history
朔 Translate ◇ Wiktionary ◇ history
迷 Translate ◇ Wiktionary ◇ history
離 Translate ◇ Wiktionary ◇ history

Because the orginial site is dead, here's the copy of the text:

傳統中國文學電子報第八十期 2001/05/04

主題:「撲朔」、「迷離」本義說

與一位朋友閒聊,話題轉至「木蘭」,自然便難繞開那首膾炙人口的南北朝時北朝民歌〈木蘭辭〉了。

「哎,詩歌中的『撲朔』與『迷離』,你說該作何解釋?」他忽然提出這樣一個問題。

這位老友是位「老語文」,是不會不知道二詞的含義的。所以,我玩笑似地反問了一句:「您這是『領教』呢,還是『盤道』?」

「先『盤道』,然後再說『領教』還是『賜教』。」

聽那口氣,他肯定另有「高見」在胸。為了領教,我只好先將自己的所知,一一「奉聞」:    通常說法,「撲朔」是「爬搔」或「跳躍」的樣子;「迷離」是視線不清晰或眼睛瞇起來的樣子。詩歌中,二詞分別是用以形容雄兔、雌兔情態特點與差異的。此外,還有兩種影響頗廣的解釋:其一是說:「兔難辨別雌雄,俗常提其耳,使其懸空,雄兔四腳伸縮不停,為『撲朔』;雌兔雙眼瞇起,為『迷離』。而雙兔奔跑時,則雌雄難分了。」(王運熙、王國安《漢魏六朝樂府詩》說)另一是說:「『撲朔』形容雄兔腳上的毛蓬鬆的樣子;迷離形容雌兔的眼睛被蓬鬆的毛遮蔽的樣子。」(朱東潤主編《中國歷代文學作品選》說)三說之中,我以為通常說法,較為平實可取。

語畢,專等這位朋友「賜教」了。而他卻「賣關子」似地幽幽地說:「以上三說,自然各有所據,各有道理。但,我總覺得,這些文人學士們的詮釋,遠不如民間的解釋更直接,更扎實,也更符合生活的實際。」

他告訴我,他將「賜教」的「新解」,並非他個人的創見,而是從民間聽來的。

所謂「撲朔」、「迷離」,就〈木蘭辭〉而論,不過分別是指雄兔、雌兔發情時的情狀罷了。雄兔發情,常在雌兔身邊爬搔、躍動,幾乎無一刻安寧,此之便謂「撲朔」(即「爬搔」的音轉);雌兔發情,則恰恰相反,常瞇起眼睛,呈恍惚之狀,此之便謂「迷離」(其本字當作「瞇(目麗)」歟)。此時的雙兔,不待指點、說明,為雄為雌,一眼可辨(不獨兔子,一般鳥獸的發情,亦多具此種鮮明特點)。然而,待到雌、雄雙兔一起飛奔時,誰又能辨別出它們的雌與雄來呢?木蘭,是民間傳說中的女英雄;此辭的作者,又是民間歌者,他為了抒發對女英雄由衷的欽敬與讚美之情,於是才又在詩歌的結尾,就現實生活取譬,並借女英雄木蘭之口,風趣、含蓄地表達出來。 朋友的「賜教」,令我耳目一新,覺得極有道理。看來,「先民有言,詢於芻蕘」的古訓,並沒有過時,即便在今天的「咬文嚼字」上,也都用得上呢。

撰文者:鮑延毅/山東省棗莊師專教授〈本文經作者同意,轉載自國文天地〉 版權所有,欲轉載文章,請徵求電子報的同意!

It seems to indicate, that the lines “雄兔腳撲朔, 雌兔眼迷離” really describes rabbits in heat. Males, fuss around the female, while females, feign befuddlement. At which point, one can easily distinguish their sex by their deportment alone. However, when the rabbits are running along, it becomes impossible to tell their sex again.

Thinking about it, the sexual behavior of leporidae in courtship is rather similar to human animals too. Men get excited and fuss about, while women, play hard-to-get.

This poem is actually the last verse of the Mulan ballad (花木兰). Here's the complete ballad:

木蘭辭

唧唧復唧唧, 木蘭當戶織, 不聞機杼聲, 惟聞女歎息。
問女何所思?問女何所憶?女亦無所思, 女亦無所憶。
昨夜見軍帖, 可汗大點兵;軍書十二卷, 卷卷有爺名。
阿爺無大兒, 木蘭無長兄, 願為市鞍馬, 從此替爺征。

東市買駿馬, 西市買鞍韉, 南市買轡頭, 北市買長鞭。
旦辭爺孃去, 暮宿黃河邊, 不聞爺孃喚女聲, 但聞黃河流水聲濺濺。
旦辭黃河去, 暮宿黑山頭, 不聞爺孃喚女聲, 但聞燕山胡騎聲啾啾。

萬里赴戎機, 關山度若飛,
朔氣傳金柝, 寒光照鐵衣。
將軍百戰死, 壯士十年歸。
歸來見天子, 天子坐明堂, 策勳十二轉, 賞賜百千強。
可汗問所欲, 木蘭不用尚書郎, 願借明駝千里足, 送兒還故鄉。

爺孃聞女來, 出郭相扶將;阿姊聞妹來, 當戶理紅妝;
小弟聞姊來, 磨刀霍霍向豬羊。
開我東閣門, 坐我西閣床;脫我戰時袍, 著我舊時裳;
當窗理雲鬢, 對鏡帖花黃。出門看火伴, 火伴皆驚惶:
同行十二年, 不知木蘭是女郎。

雄兔腳撲朔, 雌兔眼迷離, 兩兔傍地走, 安能辨我是雄雌?

Basically, the entire Mulan fable stems from this ballad. Note the ridiculousness of it. How can a girl, in military for 12 years, and fellow soldiers do not realize that she is a female? If so, she must be very unusual and manly. In modern times, she'd be a butcher dyke, or medically and psychologically certified transsexual. However, this fable went on and is kept in circulation, because the aspect of having girls in military barrack as their equals is a eternal fantasy of men, as can be seen in countless movies and fictions, where, very beautiful girls with titillating breasts and ludicrous feminized war attires that reveals much of their body, wielding swords or guns that can beat men. (e.g. in the movie Conan, Xena (the warriar princess) TV opera, countless Japanese animations, female assassins (Nikita, Kill Bill), G I Jane, video games.) In reality, a female taking the job of killing is extremely rare, and only started to have some minor roles in modern times supported by technology, because guns and machinery made sheer muscle power less necessary to do killings.

Men like these fantasies because it has no effect on reality. And, the prospect of having sexy girls in the military is good. The hungry soldiers truely need it. While the fair sex, for the most part of human history, don't have a say in society because of the biologically developed social structure. If consulted, women in general don't have opinions on this one way or another. If anything, such fantasy glorifies their sex and they like it fine.

There is also a lecherous version of the ballad based on homonyms (same number of chars and same rhyme). Author unknow.:

木兰诗(淫淫版)

唧唧復唧唧, 木蘭當馬騎,
不聞吱嗚聲, 唯聞女喘息
問女何所溼?問女何所溢?
女亦無所溼, 女亦無所溢

昨夜見帳冊, 賓館大點收,
帳單十二卷, 卷卷有爺名
阿爺無銀兒, 木蘭無長胸,
願為市鞍我, 從此被人征

東市買灌強, 西市買黃瓜,
南市買蠟燭, 北市買皮鞭

朝辭爺娘去, 暮宿黃河邊,
不聞爺兒喚女生, 但聞黃色男女嗚嗯
旦辭黃河去, 暮至黑山頭,
不聞爺兒召女生, 但見燕山胡騎嘿咻咻

萬里赴戎雞, 關門爽若飛,
極樂天蠍椅, 螢光小夜衣。
將軍百戰死, 壯士十來回。
歸來生兒子, 天子騎明堂,
連續十二爽, 賞賜千百男
可汗問所慾?木蘭不要尚書郎,
願借猛駝千里騎, 送我到天堂

爺兒聞女來, 出門灑豆漿,
阿姊聞妹來, 當戶理皮裝
小弟聞姊來, 磨槍霍霍上豬羊

開我菊花門, 坐我電動床,
脫我黑皮袍, 著我洞洞裝
當初惹淋病, 如今內褲黃,

出門看夥伴, 夥伴皆驚惶
同床十二年, 不知木蘭是變性郎?!

雄兔腳撲朔, 雌兔眼迷離,
兩兔傍地走, 安能辨我是雄雌?
Mulan Ballad (lecherous version), translation by Xah Lee

clicky-clack, clicky-clack; Mulan rides a horse
hearing no birds chirp; loud's a girl's gasp
ask why she's wet; ask for whom she ooze
not that i'm wet, not that am oozing

yesterday wot the scroll, the morgue counts deads to-be
voluminous twelve tomes, every tome's got dad's name
dad has no money, Mulan's tits not mammoth
may the city takes me, to be served henceforth

Market East shops for douche, Market West cucumbers
Southen Market candle sticks bought, North Market got me whips

farewelled ma n pa in morn, lodge'd Yellow River bank on eve
hear no sounds of parents call, but carnal cries of men n woman
morn logged off Yellow River, eve arrive'd Black Mountain foot
hear not sounds of parents bid, but the wild riders puff n pant

ten thousand miles of militant f�ck; behind doors pleasure trips sublime
scorpio-orgasmo seat; fluorescent lingere
expired generals numbers in hundreds, heroic men recharged tens of rounds
on return a son is born, elevated to a heroic post
non-stop cum twelve times, rewarding thousands of men
emperor asked her what she wants, Mulan wants no bookworm
give me a hard camel ride, send me to nirvana

dad heard home-coming, spewed his milk
big sister heard home-coming, dons on leather
little brother heard home-coming, horning towards farm pigs

open my bedroom door, sit on my rumble bed
doff my leather outfit, don my peekaboo gown
i had contracted syphillis, now it colored my panties

out of closet i go, comrades all in shock
twelve years bunks-sharing, we didn't know Mulan's a transsexual?!

male hare fuss about, female hare feign befuddlement,
a couple hares running along, how can you tell my sex?

The original Mulan Ballad with each character linked to a dictionary and character etymology tree is on the zhongwen site at: zhongwen.com.

A English translation can be found at 〔http://utd500.utdallas.edu/~hairston/mulan.html〕, supposedly from The Flowering Plum and the Palace Lady: Interpretations of Chinese Poetry By Hans H Frankel, Yale University Press, 1976. amazon I think it's pretty bad.

Bumped into this limericky poem:

姑娘跨下一條溝,
一年四季水長流,
不見牛羊來吃草,
只見烏龜來洗頭。
 (author unknown)
under the lass there's a trough,
moist'n'verdant all year long,
grazing cows and sheeps it doesn't,
nourish'n'wash turtle heads it does.
 (translation by Xah Lee)
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