Red Cliffs I. – Su Shih

First Prose Poem On The Red Cliffs

In the autumn of 1082, on the 16th of the seventh month, Master Su and his guests sailed in a boat below the Red Cliffs. Clear wind blew gently, the water was calm. The boaters raised their wine and poured for each other, reciting “The Bright Moon” and singing “The Lovely One.”
After a while, the moon rose above the eastern mountain, and hovered between the Dipper and the Cowherd star. White mist lay across the water; the light from the water reached the sky. They went where their tiny boat took them, floating on a thousand leagues of haze, in the vastness as if resting on emptiness and riding the wind, not knowing where they would stop, floating as if they had left the earth and stood alone, having turned into birds and become immortal. And so they drank and their joy reached its height, and they sang beating on the side of the boat. The song went:

Cassia oars and orchid paddles
Beat the illusory moon,
Rowing against the flow of streaming light.
From a great distance my heart
Yearns for my beloved at one end of the sky.

Among the guests there was one who played the flute, and he played along with their song. The sound of his flute mourned, as if grieving as if loving, as if weeping as if reproaching. Its sound echoed and lingered, not breaking as if a silken thread. It set to dancing the dragon submerged in a deep crevice, and brought to tears the widow in the lonely boat.

Master Su sobered himself, and straightening his collar sat upright. He asked the guest: “Why did you play like that?” The guest replied, “‘The moon is bright, the stars, sparse. The crows and magpies fly south,’ aren’t these the words from Cao Cao’s poem? Looking west towards Xiakou, East towards Wuchang, with the mountains and rivers entwining each other, densely green — isn’t this the place where Cao was beseiged by Zhou Yu? Cao had just broken Jingzhou, and was going to Jiangling, sailing west with the flow of the river. His boats prow to stern stretched for a thousand miles, and his flags and banners blocked the sky. Pouring wine, looking down on the river, chanting poems with a spear across his knees, he was indeed a hero of his times; but today, where is he? And how about you and I, fishermen and woodcutters on the islets in the river, taking the fish and shrimp and deer as our companions, and riding in a leaf of a boat, raising gourds as our goblets and drinking to each other? Entrusted like flies to heaven and earth, as tiny as one grain in a vast ocean. I grieve at my life’s shortness, and envy how the Great River is infinite. I want to fly with the immortals and roam the vastness, embrace the moon and live forever. I know that I cannot quickly achieve this, and I entrusted these sounds to the sad wind.”

Master Su said, “Do you know the water and moon? The one flows on, and yet never goes anywhere, and the other waxes and wanes, yet never diminishes or grows. If you look at them from the point of Change, then heaven and earth never stay the same for even the blink of an eye. If you look from the point of what is unchanging, then all things, and I, are inexhaustible, so what is there to envy? Between heaven and earth, each thing has its master, and if it were not mine, even if only a hair, I would not take it. Only the clear wind on the river, and the bright moon between the mountains: the ear receives one and creates sound, the eye meets the other and makes color; you can take these without prohibition, and use them without exhausting them. This is the infinite treasure of the Creator, and what you and I can share and rejoice in.”

The guest was pleased and smiled, they washed the cups and refilled them. All the dishes were finished, and the cups and plates were scattered all over. Pillowing on each other in the middle of the boat, they didn’t see that the sky was already brightening in the east.

Su Shih / Su DongPo
(1057-1101)

Translated by Pauline Chen

Dreams Of The Tang Dynasty #18

#18
This lonely mountain house,
Is the only place my heart can rest.
I wake up in the cold morning light,
And go walking the quiet wooded paths.
Our country crumbles around us,
But the world of men means little here.
Emperors rise and fall; sons and fathers die,
But the pines and peaks remain still.
If I pick up my pace,
I can reach the north peak by noon.
If I don’t get distracted by the landscapes
I can drink my wine before it gets warm.
AD885

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 XinMei) and 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

Dreams of The Tang Dynasty #12

#12
Perched on the cliffside,
Overlooking a little mountain river.
I shift my wine jug on the stone,
Searching for a stable place to let it stand.
Bare trees, and a cool breeze,
A bird sings a spring song in the pines above.
Such peace is rare in these uncertain days,
But such beauty will live forever.
I smile down at the sparkling water,
And the sun reflects its smile back up at me.
AD848

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 XinMei) and 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

Dreams of The Tang Dynasty #11

#11
We rowed out to an empty island on the Wei river,
Mooring our boat to a fallen tree.
She moved like water through the forest,
Like a flood through my heart.
The night was warm and bright,
Lying on my blanket, we chanted poems to the stars.
Naked, we woke up wet with morning dew,
Making love, we warmed ourselves in the rising sun.
AD865

-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 XinMei) and 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

Dreams of The Tang Dynasty #10

#10
The first days after the fields are planted,
Peasant families all walk the river bank.
Young boys show off their strength,
Seeing who can climb the tallest trees.
Young girls sit with their mothers,
On bamboo mats in the grass.
Five old men sit on a rotten log,
Drinking cool wine and talking about the past.
All our sorrows and suffering,
Are merely paths to moments like these.
AD849

-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 XinMei) and 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

Dreams of the Tang Dynasty #1

#1
The moon shines like a phosphorescent pearl,
Washing the pines and water in a silver glow.
I’ve walked this wooded path many nights;
Singing songs to the heavenly river above
About this earthly river below.
Sitting on my favorite rock,
I write these words with water on stone,
“How many years do I have left?
Does any man know?”
And like a dream,
I watch the words evaporate
Up into the void of the sky.
AD 889

– 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 XinMei) and 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

If It Could Just Be You and I

Too many people.
People People People.
I wish I lived a hundred years ago

Just you and I

And a piece of land out west.
I’d work some simple trade
A woodsman maybe
And on the weekends,
In the hot months
We’d lie naked together
Next to the river

Just you and I

Content in the cool breeze
Your body glistening in the sun
Your dark eyes
Big, beautiful, and wild with summer
Your lips, wet with wine,
And only the birds for company.

Country House

I planted a hundred mulberry trees
And thirty acres of rice.
Now I have plenty of silk and grain,
And can afford to entertain my friends.
In the spring I plant rice.
In the  Autumn I gather chrysanthemums
And perfume the  wine with their petals.
My wife enjoys being hospitable.
My children like to serve.
Late afternoon, we give a picnic
At the back of the overgrown garden
In the shade of the elms and  willows.
My friends drink until they are inspired.
The fresh breezes cool the heat of the day.
After everyone has gone home,
I want to walk out under the Milky Way,
And look up at the countless stars
That watch me from heaven.
I still have  plenty of jugs in the cellar.
Nobody will prevent me
From opening some more tomorrow.

-Ch’u Ch’uang I

This poem is an expression of exactly what I want out of life.

Translated by Kenneth Rexroth

 

The Wine Of God

Enraptured
Intoxicated
Dizzy with love.
I’ve drunk too much
Of what Rumi was drinking
And every moment
I am ravenous for more.
Every moment is
An unrealized poem
Floating through eternity.
Life is the wine of God
And beauty is His vineyard.
He bids you,
Come and taste!