Bamboo and Plum Blossom

Bamboo and Plum Blossom

Bamboo and Plum Blossom

Bamboo and Plum Blossom
Bamboo and Plum Blossom

Friday, June 24, 2016

Cai Yen (162-239)

Cai Yen (162 – 239 CE)
The daughter of writer Cai Yi, himself a friend of the legendary Cao Cao, Cai Yen is considered the first great Chinese woman poet. Far from leading a scholastic life, she was captured by a Hun chieftain, to whom she bore two sons, before Cao Cao ransomed her and married her to one of his officers.

From 18 Verses Sung to a Tatar Reed Whistle

I was born in a time of peace,
But later the mandate of Heaven
Was withdrawn from the Han Dynasty.
Heaven was pitiless.
It sent down confusion and separation.
Earth was pitiless.
It brought me to birth in such a time.
War was everywhere. Every road was dangerous.
Soldiers and civilians everywhere
Fleeing death and suffering.
Smoke and dust clouds obscured the land
Overrun by the ruthless Tatar bands.
Our people lost their will power and integrity.
I can never learn the ways of the barbarians.
I am daily subject to violence and insult.
I sing one stanza to my lute and a Tatar horn.
But no one knows my agony and grief.

Yu Suanqi (Tang.)

Yu Suanqi (mid-ninth century CE)
Born in the Tang capital, Chang An, Yu Suanqi became the concubine of an official, Li Yi. His jealous wife tortured her and drove her from the house. She became a wandering Taoist priestess who nonetheless took many lovers, including poets Wen Feiqing and Li Cun. She was executed after being accused of murdering her maid.

On a Visit to Chung Chen Temple I See in the South Hall a List of Successful Candidates in the Imperial Examinations
Cloud capped peaks fill the eyes
In the Spring sunshine.
Their names are written in beautiful characters
And posted in order of merit.
How I hate this silk dress
That conceals a poet.
I lift my head and read their names
In powerless envy.

*the imperial examinations were never, with a few exceptions, open to women

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Yuefu Poetry - Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220AD)


On and on, going on and on,
Away from you to live apart.
Ten thousand miles and more between us,
Each at opposite ends of the sky.
The road I travel is steep and long;
who knows when we meet again?
The Hu horse leans into the north wind,
The bird nests in southern branches.
Day by day our parting grows more distant,
Day by day robe and belt dangle looser.
Shifting clouds block the white sun,
The traveler does not look to return.
Thinking of you makes one old,
Years and months suddenly go by.
Abandoned, I will say no more,
but pluck up strength and eat my fill.

The poem is about solicitude, departure and scourge of war during the turmoil years of the late Eastern Han Dynasty. The poem is full of a woman’s deep concern over her husband in the foreign land.

Yuefu folk poem (Qin dynasty c.221-206BC)

夏雨雪 ,
I want to be your love for ever and ever,
Without break or decay.
When the hills are all flat,
The rivers are all dry.
When it thunders in winter,
When it snows in summer
When heaven and earth mingle,
Not till then will I part from you.
The poem comes from Yuefu folk poems of Han Dynasty.  The hero takes an oath that: Even if the seas go dry and rocks crumble, her love remains firm. The poem is a woman`s warm confession to her lover.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Su Tung-po (1037-1101)


To what can our life on earth be likened?
To a flock of geese,
alighting on the snow.
Sometimes leaving a trace of their passage.
Su Tung-po :

Kuan Hsiu (832-912)

Written in the Cold, Viewing Nine Peaks
Nine tall green stalks
the tops snow white
the lotus, opened.
If Wang Wei didn't paint it
it's not been painted yet.
Layer upon layer
to each its own cascade.
One, and all, together
a place I would live.
When the rain ceases they thrust through again.
Stern frost won't wither them.
In the world of men there's still so much left undone,
yet in this place I linger,
linger, long.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Du Fu (712-770)

Alone, Looking For Blossoms Along The River

The sorrow of riverside blossoms inexplicable,
And nowhere to complain -- I've gone half crazy.
I look up our southern neighbor. But my friend in wine
Gone ten days drinking. I find only an empty bed.

A thick frenzy of blossoms shrouding the riverside,
I stroll, listing dangerously, in full fear of spring.
Poems, wine -- even this profusely driven, I endure.
Arrangements for this old, white-haired man can wait.

A deep river, two or three houses in bamboo quiet,
And such goings on: red blossoms glaring with white!
Among spring's vociferous glories, I too have my place:
With a lovely wine, bidding life's affairs bon voyage.

Looking east to Shao, its smoke filled with blossoms,
I admire that stately Po-hua wineshop even more.
To empty golden wine cups, calling such beautiful
Dancing girls to embroidered mats -- who could bear it?

East of the river, before Abbot Huang's grave,
Spring is a frail splendor among gentle breezes.
In this crush of peach blossoms opening ownerless,
Shall I treasure light reds, or treasure them dark?

At Madame Huang's house, blossoms fill the paths:
Thousands, tens of thousands haul the branches down.
And butterflies linger playfully -- an unbroken
Dance floating to songs orioles sing at their ease.

I don't so love blossoms I want to die. I'm afraid,
Once they are gone, of old age still more impetuous.
And they scatter gladly, by the branchful. Let's talk
Things over, little buds ---open delicately, sparingly.
Du Fu :

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Cui Hao (704-754)

Cui HaoThe Yellow Crane Terrace
Where long ago a yellow crane bore a sage to heaven,
Nothing is left now but the Yellow Crane Terrace.
The yellow crane never revisited earth,
And white clouds are flying without him for ever.
...Every tree in Hanyang becomes clear in the water,
And Parrot Island is a nest of sweet grasses;
But I look toward home, and twilight grows dark
With a mist of grief on the river waves.

Chen Ziang (601-702)

Tangshi III. 1. (46)

Chen Ziang
On a Gate-tower at Yuzhou
Where, before me, are the ages that have gone?
And where, behind me, are the coming generations?
I think of heaven and earth, without limit, without end,
And I am all alone and my tears fall down.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Du Mu (803-852)

Entering Shangshan
Du Mu

I enter Shangshan early, under a hundred miles of cloud,
Beneath the bridge a blue stream, the sound of the water divided.
The flowing water's old sound reaches the ears of the old,
This time I cannot bear to listen to its call.

Bia 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.