River Snow, 江雪

Liu Zongyuan, 柳宗元 was just 46 when he died. A champion of political reform, he lead a life that consisted of exile and isolation. The poem Winter Snow expresses his loneliness.  江雪千山鳥飛絕萬徑人蹤滅 孤舟蓑笠翁 獨釣寒江雪 柳宗元 River SnowA thousand mountains, not a bird in sightTen thousand paths, not a human trackAlone in a boat, wearing a…

Seven Steps Verse

The challenge — to spare your life, compose a short poem about two brother without using the word brother. 煮豆燃豆萁, 豆在釜中泣本自同根生, 相煎何太急 Zhǔ dòu rán dòu qí, dòu zài fǔ zhōng qìBěn zì tóng gēn shēng, xiāng jiān hé tài jí Burn the stalks to boil the beans, while in the pot the beans weep.If…

Give Me Meat to Eat

November, 2021, Happy Thanksgiving! “Dear Li Bai, Give me meat to eat, or at least green rice to put some color in my cheeks.” — an excerpt from a short ditty written by Du Fu to Li Bai, the Tang dynasty’s two best known poets. … 野人對羶腥, 蔬食常不飽豈無青精飯, 使我顏色好… A savage rightly likes fish and…

Stopping by Su Duan in the Rain

Rain and mud, a walking stick, Lord Su, a feast of dates and pears, fine wine makes good talk. 雨過蘇端杜甫 雞鳴風雨交,久旱雨亦好杖藜入春泥, 無食起我早諸家憶所歷,一飯跡便掃蘇侯得數過,歡喜每傾倒也復可憐人,呼兒具梨棗濁醪必在眼,盡醉攄懷抱紅稠屋角花,碧委牆隅草親賓縱談謔,喧鬧慰衰老況蒙霈澤垂,糧粒或自保妻孥隔軍壘,撥棄不擬道 Stopping By to See Su Duan in the RainDu Fu, 757-759 In wind and rain, a rooster crows. And after a long drought, rain is good.A walking stick, in Spring it’s muddy, I…

Mt Emei Moon Song

A half moon, its watery reflection, departing Qinxi, missing you, on the way to Yuzhou. 峨 眉 山 月 歌李白 峨 眉 山 月 半 轮 秋影 入 平 羌 江 水 流 夜 发 清 溪 向 三 峡思 君 不 见 下 渝 州 Mt. Emei Moon SongLi Bai, 725 A half moon…

Ascending Youzhou Tower

登幽州臺歌 陳子昂   前不見古人後不見來者念天地之悠悠獨愴然而涕下 Ascending Youzhou Tower (Song)Chen Zi’ang, 696 The Ancients do not see forward andThose to come do not see the past.I think of heaven and earth and the vastness of time,Sad and alone, tearfully crying Alternate translation: Where are the wise ones, those of the pastWhere are those yet to comeThe sky and the…

A Night Lodging in a Mountain Temple

Atop a teetering tower, picking a star, but careful not to panic the gods. A five-character quatrain, 20 characters in total. 夜宿山寺李白 危樓高百尺手可摘星辰不敢高聲語恐驚天上人 Night Lodging in a Mountain Temple*Li Bai (701–762) A teetering tower a hundred feet highI can pick my very own starBut I dare not speak loudlyFor fear of startling the gods Yè…

Immortal Yuzhen, 玉真仙

玉真仙人詞太白 玉真之仙人,時往太華峰清晨鳴天鼓,飙欻騰雙龍 弄電不輟手,行雲本無蹤幾時入少室,王母應相逢 Words Written to Immortal Yuzhen, Li Bai (701–762) There once was a spirit named Yuzhen,Who went oft to the peak of Taihua.                                        At dawn she would strike a heavenly drum,                                                     Soaring and prancing on twin dragons. Struck by lightening, she still didn’t stop,Traveling through clouds, she left not a trace.                          When she come to Mt….

Happy Birthday

As far as I know, the Chinese of the Tang Dynasty did not celebrate birthdays. Perhaps they had no simple method of recording birth dates, perhaps it was because they viewed life as precarious, for one should not tempt fate. Perhaps it was because each birthday was a reminder of the passage of time and…