Thursday, May 26, 2016

Chi Wu-ch'ien: a poet

A Boat in Spring on Jo-ya Lake

Thoughtful elation has no end:
Onward I bear it to whatever come.
And my boat and I, before the evening breeze
Passing flowers, entering the lake,
Turn at nightfall toward the western valley,
Where I watch the south star over the mountain
And a mist that rises, hovering soft,
And the low moon slanting through the trees;
And I choose to put away from me every worldly matter
And only to be an old man with a fishing pole.

-- Chi Wu-ch'ien --
from The Jade Mountain
trans. by Witter Bynner from
the texts of Kiang Kang-Hu 

I read it, thought about it awhile, and went on to the next one.  I came back and read it again and then went on to another poem.  I came back again.  There is something here, but I cannot speak it and I cannot write it.

Make of it what you will. 


  1. i'm not trying to proselytize, here, but this is what i think: like Haiku, the poem attempts to describe absolutely living in the moment; no past, no future, just a present meditational state in which being exists without being attached to worries(the future)or regrets(the past). it's a state in which unbridled awareness can flourish, unconcerned with interpretations of reality or belief... if that makes any sense...

    1. Mudpuddle,

      No problem with proselytizing here. Yes, there is that sense of being in the present, just what one is without the cultural or psychological baggage--just what he is--"an old man with a fishing pole."

  2. the mystery of a hansom cab: well, without engaging in a lengthy peroration, i have to say i didn't find it wildly exciting. i liked a lot of things about it - his descriptions were just the right length to leave a strong mental picture which was nice. there were a few plot difficulties: there wasn't any investigation of the real perp after the murder was committed; i would think any detective would interview all the persons even remotely associated with the event, but they didn't... so the reader would suspect that figure at the very beginning. but in spite of slight wafflings like that, the book kept me reading... it was a bit like collins, it had some dickensonian characters, and even, in spots, echoed a bit of, as was said, gaboriau(sp). overall, i can see why it was a megahit in the late victorian era, with its soap opera, kind of tearjerker atmosphere. tx for the recommendation; i most likely would never have read it without your suggestion...

  3. Mudpuddle,

    I"m glad you enjoyed it.

    I agree that it wasn't wildly exciting, but it easily carried me along to the end. The flawed investigation is a great example of what happens when the investigator gets tunnel vision and can see only one possible perp. It leads to missing a lot of clues leading elsewhere.

  4. Can't explain but I read the poem and recall Wordsworth and the daffodils in "I wandered lonely as a cloud." Odd, huh?

    1. R.T.,

      Not really. Don't both focus on the present, and everything else falls away--the past and future, just being there in the now?