Dreams of The Tang Dynasty #5

#5 For Yu
I sit on top of Old Pine Mountain
Chanting her beautiful words.
The only thing sweeter than her mouth
And more intoxicating than her wine
Was the sound of her voice reciting DuFu.
For many years I thought
The last great poetry died with Bai Juyi,
But she could conquer any man
With the ink of her calligraphy
And with a glance from her eyes.
AD 869

龙火花 Long HuoHua

Born Approx AD820 – Died AD895
Timeline Of Major Events During Long’s Life:

AD840 – Earliest known poems by Long
841 – Yu XuanJi is Born
846 – Bai JuYi dies
848 – Emperor Wuzong persecutes Buddhists, Shuts down temples across empire.
858 – Major flood killing tens of thousands (including Long’s childhood love) destabilizing dynasty
863 – Long Starts affair with Yu XuanJi
866 – Long gets sent on official duty to Chongqing
867 – Yu XuanJi is Executed
875 – Huang Chao’s Rebellion
881 – Huang Chao Captures Chang’An
883 – Capitol retaken, Huang Chao Rebellion Ends
883 – Tang Dynasty Starts Decline
895 – Long HuoHua Dies
AD907 – Tang Dynasty Falls


Memories of Green

Working on a drawing of a blossom tree
With “Memories of Green” playing mellow,
Playing melancholy in the yellow incandescence.
Lapsang Souchong and a lonely heart
Make this man long for the subtle energies of a woman tonight.
Amidst the jazz music and traditional Chinese paintings
He doesn’t have the characters for how he feels,
Nor the words, nor the time,
Nor the paint to picture it.
Sometimes all a man wants
Is quiet eyes and soft lips,
Contently scheming as she sits on his couch.
Most of the time – he has to go without
And so he draws
He writes
He walks
He drinks tea that tastes like dreams of her
And he waits
Knowing that eventually
He will find her
But not tonight
Not tonight
“Memories of Green” and dark sumi
“Memories of Green” under the yellow light.

Painting – Feelings At The End Of Spring – 鱼玄机

Poem by Yu XuanJi

暮春有感寄友人 Poem by Yu XuanJi 鱼玄机

Painting I did this week.
Translation by Leonard Ng:

Feelings At The End of Spring Sent To A Friend
The voices of orioles wake me from sad dreams;
light makeup hides the tear-stains on my face.
The bamboo grove is shadowy in the moon’s faint light;
the River lies silent beneath the night’s thick mist.
Swallows are wet-beaked from carrying mud;
bees are sweet-whiskered from gathering pollen.
I alone am pitiful, in my endless longing.
I’ll sing no more of pines with laden limbs.
– Yu XuanJi 鱼玄机

The Ferryboat and the Passenger – Rain

The Ferryboat and the Passenger – Yong-woon Han

I am a ferry boat.
You’re my passenger.

You tread on me with muddy feet.
I cross the river, hugging you in my arms.

When you are in my arms,
I do not care
Whether the river is deep, shallow or rapid.

If you do not come,
I wait for you from morning till night,
Exposed to winds and wet with snow or rain.

Once you reach the other bank,
You go away without looking back.
But I know you will come back some day.
So I grow old, waiting for you day and night.

I am a ferry boat.
You are my passenger.

Rain – Man-yung Chang

When philomels sing in the April hills,
Rain arrives over the green turf

Rain’s eyes are clear as crystals.
Rain boasts a white pearl necklace.

Rain weaves silver lace all day long
In the shade of the willow trees.

Rain kisses me in broad daylight.
Rain’s lips are wet with strawberry juice.

Rain sings a quiet song,
Ushering a balmy twilight.

Rain never tells us where she sleeps.
Jane, when we light the candle
And sit down together,

Rain bickers outside the window
Deep into the night.
At last in the morning
She goes away somewhere.

Flower Petals On The Sleeves

The sky far away
Above cold mountain rocks.
Wild birds
Cry mournfully.

The clouds flow
A thousand miles down the river.

The wanderer’s long sleeves
Are wet from flower petals.
Twilight over a riverside village
Where wine is mellow.

When this night is over,
Flowers will fall in that village.

The heart is sad and tender
to a fault.
The wanderer goes,
Drifting quietly through the moonlight.

– Ji-hoon Cho (Korean Poet)

The Girl on the Rocks

I picture you…
Out on the hot rocks
Of a secluded canyon river
Shaded by the trees
And Promontories.
Your dress clinging loosely
To the curves of your body.
Your hair wrapping
Around the corners of your face
And sticking to your cheeks
From the heat
And the waterfall’s spray
Swirling up into the air
And resting lightly on your skin.
The water,
It sings to us,
And I long to touch you
And your wet black hair,
And to run my hands up your legs
And to kiss your mouth,
But this is just a picture.
I sit all alone,
With you,
Hundreds of miles away.

Passionate Chinese Poetry I Love

Autumn Wind
The autumn wind blows white clouds
About the sky. Grass turns brown.
Leaves fall. Wild geese fly south.
The last flowers bloom, orchids
And chrysanthemums with their
Bitter perfume. I dream of
That beautiful face I can
Never forget. I go for
A trip on the river. The barge
Rides the current and dips with
The white capped waves. They play flutes
And drums, and the rovers sing.
I am happy for a moment
And then the sorrow comes back.
I was young only a little while,
And now I am growing old.
-The Emperor Wu of Han

All Year Long
We break off a branch of poplar catkins
A hundred birds sing in the tree.
Lying beneath it in the garden,
We talk to each other
Our tongues in each other’s mouths.
The sultry air is heavy with flower perfumes
What is there better to do this hot night
That throw off the covers
And lie together naked?
A cold wind blows open the window.
The moon looks in, full and bright.
Not a sound,
Not a voice,
In the night.
Then from behind the bed curtains,
Two giggles.
A freezing sky.
The year ends.
Icy winds whirl the snowflakes.
Under the covers
My darling is hotter than midsummer night
-Anonymous (Six Dynasties)

Nightfall. He jumped over the hedge.
Daybreak. He opened the gate and went out.
He has taken his pleasure,
And thinks no more of me.
-Anonymous (Six Dynasties)

Deep Night
Deep night. I cannot sleep.
I get up and sing softly to my lute.
Moonlight glows in the gauze curtains.
I open my nightgown, and let
The fresh air bathe my body.
A lonely wild goose cries out
In the distant meadow.
A night bird flies calling through the trees.
I come and go without rest.
What do I gain by it?
My mind is distracted by worries
That will never cease.
My heart is all bruised
By the troubled ghosts who haunt it.
-Yuan Chi

Freezing Night
The night is full of storm clouds.
Overhead the wild geese are frightened,
And cry out with anxiety in the murky darkness.
The icy hills are covered with dense fog.
The only thing visible
Is a beautiful shadow on a gleaming gauze window curtain.
Above the clouds the white moon is cold.
Under the clouds the storm wind is cold.
Heart full of sorrow,
Tears dried up with sorrow,
The unbearable sorrow,
Of a heart filled with love-
How can I go on under the beating storm of my thoughts?
-T’ao Hung Ching (T’ao T’ung Ming)

Water Lilies Bloom
Water lilies bloom on the Great River.
Brilliant red on the green water.
Their color is the same as our hearts.
Their roots branch off.
Ours cannot be seperated.
-The Emperor Wu of Liang

All Poems Translated by Kenneth Rexroth

My Shadow Of Eden

Which do I long for more?
Which do I want to hear,
Standing in the woods alone,
The music of man,
Or the music of nature?

I know not.
I thank God for music all the same,
And I long for you, my love,
To hear, to see, to feel,
What I, in this moment, do.

To know, more than ever,
What Eden might have been,
To see what Adam might have seen,
To experience a shadow,
Of how Adam might have known God.

These trees,
Are the trees of life.
This river,
Water for my soul.
And you… You are my Eve.

I wish you were here,
To walk with me,
To talk with me,
And I wish I could embrace you,
The way these woods are embracing me.

All Photos Belong To Dean Marais