In the Bamboo Grove

So Far Away Your wife dies, your mother dies, you feel so, so alone in the world. And so, you’ve got to get away from the insincere well-wishers, the never-ending condolences, and what is worse, the internal thoughts that nag at you and never go away. Away, for Wang Wei, was hidden away in a…

Thanksgiving, Meng Haoran

Chongyang Ri Like the American holiday of Thanksgiving, Chong Yang Ri (重陽日, the Double Ninth Festival), celebrates a good harvest with good friends. Double Ninth Day: referring to the ninth day of the ninth month in the Chinese lunar calendar. It was a hearty meal of chicken and rice (no doubt there were delicious sides…

The Apes are Crying along the Shore

Exchanging Poems “Your lonely boat’s is now a distant thing, that sails where blue skies go.” Li Bai to Meng.“As apes shed tears along the shore, so do I.” Meng Haoran to Li. Li Bai Early spring, circa 730, good friends Meng Haoran Li Bai meet at the Yellow Crane Tower in Wuhan to say…

In the Early Winter Wind

It’s a Long, Long Way Home Did the stinging wind make his eyes tear, or was he crying? The 8th century Tang poet, Meng Haoran was a long way from home, in Chang’an, wishing he was going home, feeling lonely, watching geese flying south, burdened by a cold northern wind. Memories in the Early Winter…

Meng to Zhang: Autumn

To Zhang Ming: An autumn day, circa 735 AD, Pengze, Jiangxi Province. To Zhang Ming, the illustrious Zhang, known to the world as Zhang Jiuling, 張九齡, noted poet and Imperial Chinese minister. An Autumn Day at your grand pavilion looking off into the distanceWatching the twists and turns of rivers and mountains.Lying down, wring poetry,…

Lotus Flower Peak, Huashan Mountain

In January of 756, General An Lushan and his barbarian forces captured Luoyang, the eastern Tang capital. An Lushan proclaimed himself emperor. The capital of Chang’an was threatened. China was in an uproar. Nearby, Li Bai, from his lofty platform on Lotus Mountain, watched the advancing death and destruction. On Lotus Mountain’s western peakFar and…

Farewell, Wang Wei

Translation Note. Songbie, 送别, “Farewell.” Sometimes translated as “Parting Song.”Wang Wei does not identify Nanshan, literally, southern mountains. Likely they are nearby Zhongnan Mountains, sometimes called the Taiyi Mountains, just to the south of the war torn capital of Chang’an. Zhōng nán shān, 終南山. (But see note below.) Dismount while I offer you some wine,I…

Walking in the Mountains, Du Mu

When the busy work of day is done. A leisurely Autumn walk to the mountains outside Chang’an. Transcending time and place, we are once again treated to a spectacular view of maple leaves covered in frost on a mountainside, colorfully glittering in the twilight. As beauty is constructed in each person’s mind, it exists only…

Sunset on the River

Sunset on the River or Twilight River Chant, by Bai Juyi. The unnamed river is likely the Qiantang which flows through Hangzhou where Bai Juyi served as governor.* The setting sun spreading from the center,Half the river trembling, the other half is red.I pity the third night of September,Its pearl-like dew, bow-like moon. Sunset on…

On the Lake, x2

Two short poems by Bai Juyi (772-846), a Chinese poet of the Tang dynasty. Both poems are titled On the Lake, 池上, Chí Shàng. The first poem is about the nearly imperceptible nature of a Buddhist monk. The second about a mischievous child trying to hide his crime. One Mountain monks playing chessHidden in some…