An Aged Inkstone

Thick curtains keep fragrance long; Aged inkstones hold more ink.

(Lu Fang-wong)


Note: Aged inkstones hold more ink, because they are slightly depressed due to constant rubbing with ink sticks by prior owners.

Comment: I like this poem even though I am allergic to fragrance, because this poem really focuses on scholarly love for Chinese calligraphy.


Spring Thunders

Spring thunders shock the earth; Evening rains wash away last traces of Winter; I wake up, listening to the pouring rain; my longing for an old friend is further deepened.

(Chang Ming-liang)


Note: Chinese text means “reminding of” and “longing for” an old friend in light of the scene.

Comment: This poem depicts a scholar immersed in flooding thoughts for an old friend in the midst of night in Spring that was filled with thunders and pouring rain, washing away the last traces of Winter.


The Carnival by the River Bank

The carnival makes me sing happily by the river bank, watching the moving water changing from green to many shiny scales.

(Wang Xi-zhi)


Note: Perhaps due to mental excitement, the green-colored waves of the river look like many moving shiny scales.

Comment: Granted Wang Xi-zhi is one of the best and most reknown calligraphers in China, his compositions do not correspond to his writing skills. However, they are overlooked because of his beautiful calligraphy.


On Rains

Raining in Spring is best for drinking; Raining in Autumn is best for inventorying collections; Raining in Summer is best for competing in chess; and Raining in Winter is best for reading.

(Chang Chao)


Note: Ancient Chinese scholars enjoyed common hobbies in drinking for composing poems, in collections of antiquity for pleasure, in competing in chess for sports, and in reading for ultimate satisfaction.

Comment: This poem depicts the changing hobbies according to the organic seasonal changes that are no longer available due to industrial pollutions.


On Sounds

Spring is best for birds chirping; Summer is best for cicadas singing; Autumn is best for worms whispering; and Winter is best for snow falling.

(Chang Chao)


Note: Ancient Chinese scholars enjoyed seasonal changes in nature.

Comment: Again, due to modern industrial pollutions, such luxuries are gone forever.


On Flowers

Plum flowers make one dignified; Orchid makes one seclusive; Crysthanamum makes one wild; and Lotus makes one pure.

(Chang Chao)


Note: Ancient Chinese scholars disciplined themselves with the spiritual symbols of flowers.

Comment: Although I would like to discipline myself with such flowers, but they are not readily available like ancient times.


On Stones

The stones in a flower pot must be cute; the Stones by the bamboos must be slender; the Stones by the pine trees must be ugly; and the Stones by the plum trees must be aged.

(Chang Chao)


Note: Ancient Chinese scholars were extremely picky to achieve the beauty not only in sight, but in mind; one can still capture such beauties in Chinese old masters’ paintings.

Comment: Nowadays, most people are struggling for bread and noodles; the stone business is too remote and luxurious.


On Hiking

Hiking must be done alone, but must also be accompanied with good tea and fine wine, because they compliment one another.

(Chen Mei-kung)


Note: Whenever free and mindless, ancient Chinese scholars were obsessed with hiking searching for beautiful mountains and waters alone, because each had a different pace of appreciating the nature.

Comment: Nowadays, hiking is an industrial sport.


On Winds

Spring wind is wine; Summer wind is hot tea; Autumn wind is floating smoke; and Winter wind is spice.

(Chang Chao)


Note: “Smoke” in this contex means the light smoke dissipating from a chimney of a farm house in a remote, rustic village.

Comment: To ancient Chinese scholars, the winds of four seasons can be drunk like wine, sipped like tea, vitualized like a painting, or tasted like spice, depicting the different characteristics of the wind in Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter.


On Friends

Discussing with learned friends is like reading a special book; Discussing with refined friends is like reading a beautiful poetry.

(Chang Chao)


Note: “Treating” means discussing or befriending with.

Comment: Discussing with learned friends of different accomplishments is a process of intellectual enjoyment.


Also On Friends

Discussing with serious friends is like reading a biography of saint; Discussing with fun friends is like reading a legendary book.

(Chang Chao)


Note: “Treating” means discussing or befriending with.

Comment: In the eyes of Chinese scholars, the nature of a friend is like the quality of a book.


Comments are closed.