Our Marks in Life

 

birdtracks

“Wherever we leave our marks in life,
what are they like?
Birdtracks.
Random tracks on slush.
Would birds calculate
going east or west?”

Su Shih

Snow.jpeg

Photo by Markovich

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River Moon Quotes from Red Cliff Poetry Prose

Life is a Dream, river moon

“Life is a Dream,
a globlet of wine
to the river moon”
(Quote from Su Shih‘s Red Cliff Reminiscence)

“Encounter fresh breeze on the river or bright moon between the hills,
any ears can take as music and eyes as sights;
nothing prohibits anyone from taking
and it will never be depleted with consumption,
they are Creator’s infinite treasures
delighting both you and I.”
(Quote from Su Shih’s Red Cliff Rhaphsody)

Moon(Art and colors’s photo)

“We hold on to the flying immortal to roam freely,
or embrace the bright moon to life’s ultimate end.”
(Quote from Su Shih’s  Red Cliff Rhaphsody)

 

Poetry on Heaven’s Scent: Environment & Integrity

Su Shih wrote a few poems about incense made from aloeswood, the most precious commodity on Hainan Island for Chinese traders in the mainland. He used incense as a symbol of integrity and cried out like an activist to protect the trees mocking petty officials’ offering to emperors like his lychee poetry.

Woods Hacked and Fell Like Blown Blossoms
Aloeswood Tree and poem

(Su was a visionary evironmentalist concerned with tree chopping  even over a thousand years ago. He was mocking the people who chopped down agarwoods to offer to the court so they would be favored.Since 1995 the evergreens producing the resin have been listed as potentially threatened species by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.)

aloewood

The rock of Aloeswood

“A cliff of lone peak leaning a long slab of rock like an inkwell
 we suspect it was sunk in deep water to get the treacherous hue.
Want to learn to sew orchid belts from the migrant?
Who would believe the young lad
has wood intestine and a stone heart?
I had encountered pine transformed to rock,
like jade with fragrance fending off evils.
If I had known hundred combats would extinct as ashes,
I would never trust words of man
that the weak can triumph over the strong.”
(There are a lot metaphors in this poem, he symbolized his integrity as jade with fragrance fending off evils. Yet he considered all his strife against evil went up in ashes against those in power.)

Incense and smoke (Incense Photo via 58.com)

  Ode to Incense

“Blow with the wind all over east and south,
 far reaching, more than what you can hear and think,
it makes your nose observe before enlightened.
Numerous scrolls of small scripts under a luminous window,
smoke vanished with a  joss stick of incense extinguished;
in mid course of life the body aging and mind in leisure.”
印香
Embossed Incense
 
“Sandalwood waves spread fragrance overseas,
fumed with old cypress in west hill;
like delicious snails shelled and gathered,
dragons crowd in clouds blown into misty veil.
Incense mildly burning in flicker like a firefly.
When will the character embossed incense burn off?
Winding threads forever diverge and merge,
like silk floating in air dispersing mist enshrouded.
I hold this for your birthday,
we both serve the emperor’s ancestors,
along with scripts of Lao Tzu and Buddha
we strive in middle age to fend off flies and mosquitoes.
The late encounters in poetry and prose
would not be worth mentioning,
you follow the way of the most esteemed rulers in history,
I also beat the drum to discipline the army
and would not dare but be vigilant to repay the nation’s grace.
Just wish to be unfumed by the world,
but white hairs cannot be farmed.
When are you going to return home
and gather the scattered, deceased
and put in order the stranded and chaotic?
but this heart and mind had actually been fumed with incense,
the leisure minded scholar should have smelled it.”
(This is a poem Su wrote for the birthday of his brother also exiled on the shore just across the sea from Hainan Island. The flies and mosquitoes refer to the rascals their opponents manipulating the young emperor who did not really know what he was doing. They  both served three generations of emperors and empress dowagers who greatly valued their talents.)
 
Agarwood, also known as oud, oodh or agar, is a dark resinous heartwood that forms in  large evergreens native to southeast Asia when infected with a type of mould. The tree produces a dark aromatic resin in response to infection, which results in a very dense, dark, resin embedded heartwood. The resin is valued in many cultures for its distinctive fragrance and used for incense and perfumes.

Begonia Poetry

potted tree begonia Photo:Wuji8.com

“..Wish to cherish spring every year,
but spring departs without cherish.
This year, bitter rains again,
two months of chills like autumn.
Lie down to smell the begonia blossoms,
snow and rouge petals scattered, smeared by mud.”

Su Shih in first exile
(from Cold Meal Rain)  See Calligraphy

(Begonia is an indigenous flower of Su’s homeland; it is also called homesick plant or heartbreaking flower of sorrow.His mother was called Begonia; she emanated fragrance of an accomplished lady’ virtues.She taught him to be true to yourself but was banished being speaking his mind. Begonia is small, ordinary and inconspicuous; he failed his name Shih that his father gave him so he would remain inconspicuous even in significant positions.)

Tree Begonia 1

East winds in spring fondling begonia flooded in luxuriant light.
Translucent mist of fragrance veils
moonlight beaming over the winding pavilion.
Blossoms may doze through the night,
light a towering candle to illumine the fair complexion.

Su Shih

Plum Blossom Poems of Resilience

“Spring lands on secluded valley of gurgling water,
bright plum blossoms in grass and bramble.
A night of east wind, the rock cracked,
crossing the treacherous mountain in falling snow.”

Plum Blossoms in Snow.gif

 

“Green branches sculpted with jade
and pistils with gold,
fairy flesh fearless of bitter cold.”

White Plum Flowers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red Plum Blossoms

Fear of sorrow, crave for sleep, it alone blooms late.
Tardy for concerns of icy look, not fitting for the season.
Feigning in pastel pink of peach and apricot,
yet lean, arrogant air of frosty snow remains.
Resilient nature to cold would not yield to spring air,
Blushing from wine in jade flesh for no cause.
The poet elder does not get plum’s character,
can only tell plum from peach with leaves and branches.

Plum Blossom Photo.jpg

“Cold resilient plum blossoms appear to avoid spring,
they don’t understand Creator’s impartial love.”

Plum Blossom Painting

Su’s Summary of his Life

The header image conveys the tone of this poem.

“My heart is like wood burnt to ashes,
my body as an unleashed boat.
If you ask what are my life accomplishments………”

self portrait text

Can you guess his reply?

Exile

The actual line is “Huangzhou, Huizhou, Tanzhou.”
(The three places of his exile: GuangGang, Huizhou and Hainan)

Framed Millennium Charm Chinese Brush with blue green brush background1560x2500 with Frame

The cover image also conveys the tone of the poem. Dislocation as an unleashed boat.Loss, makes us feel like wood burnt to ashes. All due to conflicts. The migrants and refugees around the world come to mind right away. May we all do everything we can to stop conflicts.