Poetry Depot

December 2, 2010

Something classical & capigraphical

Filed under: chinese — Tags: , , , , — razvan @ 5:46 pm

Xianyu Shu (1256 – 1322)
Poem by Su Shixianyushu.gif

There are all kinds of trees around my home. One tree that is out of the ordinary is crab-apple, who stands quietly by the bamboo fence, to whose elegance peaches and plums pale into insignificance.

from this history of caligraphy

Wang Xizhi (303 – 361)
Preface to the Poems Composed at Orchid Pavilion, 353
Tracing copy on rice paper, Tang
Palace Museum, Beijing

Wang Xizhi was born in a prominent family of state officials, most of whom were also accomplished calligraphers. As a child he was tutored by Wei Shuo, a famed female calligrapher who recognized her student’s extraordinary ability to imitate a style at first glance. As a young man Wang traveled famous mountains in the north, where he admired and imitated the writings inscribed on stones by old masters. He studied long and hard, and ultimately developed his own calligraphic style, an achievement by which he reached a position in Chinese calligraphy comparable to that of Confucius in Chinese philosophy. He wrote this work during a gathering of his celebrity friends.

On this late spring day, the ninth year of Yonghe (353 AD), we gathered at Orchid Pavilion in Shaoxing to observe Water Festival. High mountains and luxuriant bamboo groves lie in the back; a limpid, swift stream gurgles around. We sat by the water, sharing the wine from a floating goblet while chanting poems, which gave us delight in spite of the absence of musical accompaniment. This is a sunny day with a capful valley breeze. Spreading before the eye is the beauty of nature, and hanging high is the immeasurable universe. This is perfect for an aspired mind.

Though born with different personalities – some give vent to their sentiment in a quiet chat while others repose their aspiration in Bohemianism – people find pleasure in what they pursue and never feel tired of it. Sometimes they pause to recall the days lapsed away. Realizing that what fascinated yesterday is a mere memory today, not to mention that everyone will return to nothingness, an unsuppressible sorrow would well up. Isn’t it sad to think of it?

I am often moved by ancients’ sentimental lines which lamented the swiftness and uncertainty of life. Since the nature of man remains the same regardless of the change of times, later generations will probably feel the same when they read these poems. This gives comfort.

from here

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