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Friday, July 29, 2016

Gan Yu - II (Zhang Jiu Ling)

This is from a short series of poems by Zhang Jiu Ling.  The series is called Gan Yu - a phrase impossible to translate succinctly, it means something like feelings encountered along the way.  It is used as a title by Tang poets to indicate poems of a more contemplative nature.

Zhang Jiu Ling was a remarkable figure.  You can read a brief Wikipedia entry about him here which chronicles his adventures as a high ranking government official in the 8th century, maneuvering through a period full of palace intrigue in the years prior to the An Lushan rebellion.  As a high government minister he was apparently held in high regard for his plain spoken honesty.

I find the same quality animates his poems, particularly the Gan Yu series, which I believe may have been written in his later years, after he fell into political disfavor.

Gan Yu – II

The orchid leaf
So lush in spring
And the cassia
With its brilliant
Autumn flowering

The sheer delight
Of the force of life
As each being unfolds
According to scheme

Whoever takes
A forest perch can learn
These simple pleasures
By sitting and listening
To the wind

As grass and trees
In turn show
Their intentions
Revealing what   
Beauty is to man
Before disappearing










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