Sunday, July 2, 2017

River Snow

River Snow
      --after Liu Zongyuan

No bird in the hills
No man on the path
Old man on cold stream
Afloat, snow fishing.

Liu Zongyuan Statue.jpg
Liu Zongyuan Statue Park, Liuzhou, Guangxi, China

1 comment:

  1. Liu Zongyuan ("Zihou") was 9th-century Chinese writer who founded the Classical Prose Movement (guwen yundong) that advocated clarity and precision rather than the florid, rigidly structured piantiwen (parallel) prose style that had been popular since the Han dynasty, which he considered overly ornate at the expense of content. Rather than imitating pre-Han prose, the guwen stylists sought to follow its spirit and used elements of colloquial language to make their writings more direct. The movement also had political and religious aspects, since Confucian scholars saw it as a tool to combat the influence of Taoism and Buddhism and to expose corruption and poor government. In 805 Liu fell from favor due to his association with a failed reformist movement and was exiled to Yongzhou, Hunan, and then to Liuzhou, Guangxi. But his exile allowed his literary career to flourish: he produced poems, fables, reflective travelogues, and essays that synthesized elements of Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism. In addition, about 180 of his poems are extant, including "Jiangxue" ("River Snow") which inspired many Chinese paintings. After his death in 819, guwen yundong declined since the government only allowed the use of piantiwen for official use, so those who want to be officials had to learn that style.

    A different translation of the poem:

    A thousand mountains, no sign of birds in flight;
    Ten thousand paths, no trace of human tracks.
    In a lone boat, an old man, in rain hat and straw raincoat,
    Fishing alone, in the cold river snow.

    In my version I tried to keep the 5-character-per- line format.


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