Bamboo and Plum Blossom

Bamboo and Plum Blossom

Bamboo and Plum Blossom

Bamboo and Plum Blossom
Bamboo and Plum Blossom

Wednesday, April 27, 2016



Anon. (first century B.C.).
A poor man determines to go out into the world and make his fortune. His wife tries to detain him.
I went out at the eastern gate:I never thought to return.But I came back to the gate with my heart full of sorrow.

There was not a peck of rice in the bin:There was not a coat hanging on the pegs.So I took my sword and went towards the gate.My wife and child clutched at my coat and wept:“Some people want to be rich and grand:I only want to share my porridge with you.Above, we have the blue waves of the sky:Below, the yellow face of this little child.”“Dear wife, I cannot stay.Soon it will be too late.When one is growing oldOne cannot put things off.”

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Hong Zicheng (1593-1665)

Ts'ai-ken T'an

The universe seems silent and unmoving, yet its natural functions never cease. The sun and moon hurry along day and night, yet their brightness never diminishes. By the same token, the noble person is alert while at leisure, and makes time for tasteful pursuits even when busy with duties

Friday, April 22, 2016

Tao Qian (365-427)

"Returning to the Farm to Dwell" 
 From early days I have been at odds with world;
My instinctive love is hills and mountains.
By mischance I fell into the dusty net
And was thirteen years away from home.
The migrant bird longs for its native grove.
The fish in the pond recalls the former depths.
Now I have cleared some land to the south of town,
Simplicity intact, I have returned to farm.
The land I own amounts to a couple of acres
The thatched-roof house has four or five rooms.
Elms and willows shade the eaves in back,
Peach and plum stretch out before the hall.
Distant villages are lost in haze,
Above the houses smoke hangs in the air.
A dog is barking somewhere in the hidden lane,
A cock crow from the top of a mulberry tree.
My home remains unsoiled by worldly dust
Within bare rooms I have my peace of mind.
For long I was a prisoner in a cage
And now I have my freedom back again.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Li Bai (701-762)

Long Yearning
Li Bai

Long yearning,
To be in Chang'an.
The grasshoppers weave their autumn song by the golden railing of the well;
Frost coalesces on my bamboo mat, changing its colour with cold.
My lonely lamp is not bright, I’d like to end these thoughts;
I roll back the hanging, gaze at the moon, and long sigh in vain.
The beautiful person's like a flower beyond the edge of the clouds.
Above is the black night of heaven's height;
Below is the green water billowing on.
The sky is long, the road is far, bitter flies my spirit;
The spirit I dream can't get through, the mountain pass is hard.
Long yearning,
Breaks my heart.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Tao Chien (365-427)

Reading the Classic of Hills and Seas

In the summer grass and trees have grown.
Over my roof the branches meet.
Birds settle in the leaves.
I enjoy my humble place.
Ploughing’s done, the ground is sown,
Time to sit and read my book.
The narrow deeply-rutted lane
Means my friends forget to call.
Content, I pour the new Spring wine,
Go out and gather food I’ve grown.
A light rain from the East,
Blows in on a pleasant breeze.
I read the story of King Mu,
See pictures of the Hills and Seas.
One glance finds all of heaven and earth.
What pleasures can compare with these?

Note: King Mu (1001-947BC) of the Chou Dynasty dined with the Queen of the Immortals, Si Wang Mu, in the Western Paradise (among the Kun-lun mountains of Tibet). There she tended the garden where the peach-tree grew that supported the Universe. Her Paradise was that of exalted purity, the jade or pearl mountain, entered through a golden door. The peaches conferred immortality. She later visited Emperor Wu Ti of Han (r.141-97BC) riding on a white dragon, gave him a peach from the tree, and taught him the secrets of eternal life. Wu built a tower with a golden vase on its summit to collect the pure dew that dripped from the stars.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Wang Wei (699-761)

Wheel-Rim River
1 Elder-Cliff Cove
At the mouth of Elder-Cliff, a rebuilt house
among old trees, broken remnants of willow.
Those to come: who will they be, their grief
over someone's long-ago life here empty.
5 Deer Park
No one seen. Among empty mountains,
hints of driftng voice, faint, no more.
Entering these deep woods, late sunlight
flares on green moss again, and rises.
6 Magnolia Park
Autumn mountains gathering last light,
one bird follows another in flight away.
Shifting kingfisher-greens flash radiant
scatters. Evening mists: nowhere they are.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Confucius (551-479BC)

Lament Of A Bereaved Person

A russet pear-tree rises all alone,
But rich the growth of leaves upon it shown!
I walk alone, without one brother left,
And thus of natural aid am I bereft.
Plenty of people there are all around,
But none like my own father's sons are found.
Ye travellers, who forever hurry by,
Why on me turn the unsympathizing eye?
No brother lives with whom my cause to plead;--
Why not perform for me the helping deed?

A russet pear-tree rises all alone,
But rich with verdant foliage o'ergrown.
I walk alone, without one brother's care,
To whom I might, amid my straits repair.
Plenty of people there are all around,
But none like those of my own name are found.
Ye travellers, who forever hurry by,
Why on me turn the unsympathizing eye?
No brother lives with whom my cause to plead;--
Why not perform for me the helping deed?
Confucius :

Monday, April 11, 2016

Hung Ying-ming (1593-1665)

Ts'ai-ken T'an

Those who are virtuous and never swerve from the right path, are obscure only during their lifetime, while those who prosper by fawning on the great are forever lost in oblivion after their death. A man of superior wisdom overlooks all sublunary things and yearns after the things that are immortal. Therefore, though doomed to temporary obscurity, do not fail to aspire to that which is eternal.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Li Ching Chao (1084-1151)

Sorrow Of Departure

Red lotus incense fades on
The jeweled curtain. Autumn
Comes again. Gently I open
My silk dress and float alone
On the orchid boat. Who can
Take a letter beyond the clouds?
Only the wild geese come back
And write their ideograms
On the sky under the full
Moon that floods the West Chamber.
Flowers, after their kind, flutter
And scatter. Water after
Its nature, when spilt, at last
Gathers again in one place.
Creatures of the same species
Long for each other. But we
Are far apart and I have
Grown learned in sorrow.
Nothing can make it dissolve
And go away. One moment,
It is on my eyebrows.
The next, it weighs on my heart.
Li Ching Chao :

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Lao Tzu (d.531BC)

It (Tao) is eternally without desire. So, it can be called small. All things return to it, although it does not make itself their ruler. So, it can be called great.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Su Tung-po (1037-1101)

Shui Lung Yin

Like a flower, but not a flower
No one cares when it falls
And lies discarded at the roadside
But though
Unmoved, I think about
The tangle of wounded tendrils
Lovely eyes full of sleep
About to open,yet
Still in dreams, following the wind ten thousand miles
In search of love
Startled, time and again, by the oriole's cry

Do not pity the flower that flies off
Grieve for the western garden
Its fallen red already beyond mending --
Now, after morning rain
What's left?
A pond full of broken duckweed
If the three parts of spring
Two turn to dust
One to flowing water
Look --
These are not catkins
But drop after drop of parted lover's tears
Su Tung-po :

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Li Ch'ing-Chao (1084-1151)

Sorrow of Departure
by Li Ch'ing-Chao (1084-1151)

Lotus incense fades, a red stain
on shimmering curtains.
Autumn returns.
Gently I release my silk dress
and float, nude, alone
on the orchid boat.
Who can take a letter beyond the clouds?
Only the wild geese reply,
writing their enigmatic ideograms
on the darkening sky,
under the full moon
now flooding the west chamber.
Flowers, after their kind, flutter
and scatter.
after its nature,
having been divided, at last
reassembles itself at the lowest place.
Creatures of the same species
long for each other,
but you and I
remain far apart
and I have grown wise in the ways of a broken heart.
Nothing can make sorrow dissolve
or vanish.
One moment it banishes
all gladness from my eyes;
the next, it weighs heavy on my heart.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Wang Wei (699-759)


Middle-aged now, following the Way.
Settled at evening near the Chungnan slopes.
Delight, and I wander off by myself
Searching for what I need to see alone.
I climb up to the roots of the streams,
Sit and watch the White Clouds pass,
Meet the old man of the woods,
Talk and laugh, forget to go home.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Yang Wanli (1127-1206)

On A Portrait Of Myself

The pure wind makes me chant poems.
The bright moon urges me to drink.
Intoxicated, I fall among the flowers,
heaven my blanket, earth my pillow.
Yang Wanli :

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Meng Jiao (751-814)

A Poem By A Leaving Son— by Meng Jiao
慈 母 手 中 线,
游 子 身 上 衣。
临 行 密 密 缝,
意 恐 迟 迟 归。
谁 言 寸 草 心,
报 得 三 春 晖。

A Traveller’s Song
By Meng Jiao
Translated by Liu Jianxun

The thread in the hands of a fond-hearted mother
Makes clothes for the body of her wayward boy;
Carefully she sews and thoroughly she mends,
Dreading the delays that will keep him late from home.
But how much love has the inch-long grass
For three spring months of the light of the sun?

Friday, April 1, 2016

Bai Juyi (772-846)

Regret for Peony Flowers
Bai Juyi

I'm saddened by the peonies before the steps, so red,
As evening came I found that only two remained.
Once morning's winds have blown, they surely won't survive,
At night I gaze by lamplight, to cherish the fading red.