Fan Zhong Yan (范仲淹) (989–1052) was a prominent politician and literary figure in Song dynasty China. He was also a strategist and educator. His most famous work was The Yue Yang Tower (The Commemorative Article Of Yue Yang Pavilion , 岳阳楼记), composed on occasion of the renovation of Yue Yang Pavilion under the governance of a friend of his. Yue Yang Tower, a city gate by the side of Dong Ting Lake, was known as one of the three great Pavilion's in Southern China, due to their association with famous literary works (the others being Huang He Pavilion 黄鹤楼 and Teng Wang Ge 滕王阁). This commemorative article was written in prose, with extensive usage of phrases in four. It's most famous for the political ideal he expressed at the end, culminating in the oft-quoted 先天下之忧而忧，後天下之乐而乐 (Worry should be before, and joy must be after the people of one's country.) which was the motto of many Chinese officers with good reputation.
In the spring of the fourth year of Qingli(reign title of Ren Zong, the fourth Emperor of the Northern Song Dynasty)， Deng Zi Jing was exiled to the post of Baling Prefecture's procurator. Next year, the government functioned well, people lived in peace and contentment, and all previous neglected matters were taken care of. Then the Yue Yang Building was renovated, increasing the original scale and carving on its wall with the poems and verses written by the Masters in the Tang Dynasty and contemporaries. I was entrusted with writing prose to record it.
I thought the most beautiful sceneries of Baling all concentrated on the great Tong Ting Lake. It looks as holding the remote mountains in mouth and swallowing the Yangtze River. It is so vast, mighty and boundless! Over the lake the sky appears bright at morning and overcast in the evening; the scenery is so spectacular and majestic as people's expected. Those are the grand sight around the Yue Yang Building, which had made the descriptive complete records by the predecessors. However,the lake connects northward to the Wu Gorge and southward to the end of the Xiang Jiang River; most of the demoted officers and dejected poets are gathering here. Could not their feelings caused by such scenery, be variable?
In the bad weather, the heavy rain is falling thick and fast, even lasting for the whole month. The chilly winds are howling hard and the turbid waves are rushing even up to the sky. The sun and stars lose their brilliance and the shapes of the lofty mountains are hidden. And then the business travels stop and the masts and oars of the sailing boats are collapsed. When the time is to the evening dark, tigers are roaring and apes are whistling. At that time, if people ascend to the top of this building，all kind of feeling, such as being apart from the capital, yearning for native lands, worrying to be slandered, fearing to be jealous of, and seeing everywhere almost sadly, may be touched off. Deeply moving to the extreme, sadness is inevitable.
Yue Yang Pavilion
In the fine weather, the spring comes in bright sunshine and gentle breeze. The lake is without any terrifying rush and its color from top to bottom is as blue as the sky, as if the blue water is reaching far beyond the horizon. Sandpipers gather flying in the air and fishes play in the water. Fragrant grass and orchids growing up luxuriantly on the shore and sand-bank are blue and green. Sometimes the steam and smoke in the sky completely dissipated, and sometimes a bright moon hanging in the sky shines far away beyond almost a thousand li of distance. The floating beam of the Moon radiates a silver glittering upon the water. The quiet shadow of her mirrored in the water is similar to the sunken jasper under the water surface. The fishing songs respond with each other. How much joyful it is! At that tome , if people ascend to the top of this building，they may touch off the feelings of carefree and happy, and forget honor and disgrace, gain and lose. Facing the gentle breeze and drinking, full of joy is also inevitable.
Ah! I have been seeking for the minds of the ancient people with lofty ideas. They were perhaps not alike both states as above mentioned. Why? They don't joy for substance and don't feel sad for themselves. When situated at the high post in the imperial court, they worried about people and when located at the corners far away the capital, they worried about the Emperor. Therefore, advance would cause them worrying and retreat would also cause them worrying. In that case, if I asked, "When they joy?" They had to say: "Worry should be before, and joy must be after those of the people." Alas! If there were not such spirited people, whom would I go together with ?
This article was written on the 15th day of the 9th lunar month in the sixth year of Qingli (1046 A.D.)
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