Betel Nut Hut

Su Shih had to write a memorial to the emperor to report his arrival at Hainan Island and thank His Majesty for sending him there; he wrote about living in the betel nut field he called Betel Nut Hut. Later he also built five little huts in another betel nut field after he was kicked out of the government coach station.

Hut in betel nut grove

“There were big trees
scattered in the betel nut field,
tree trunks were sturdy and solid
like hundreds of stone pillars.
Leaves of betel nut were so dense,
like thousands and thousands of
cloth tiles hanging down.
The sky, our blanket; earth, our bed.
Lifting our heads, we could see
the sun and moon.
Wind and rain swept our home clean.
Sea breeze and mist of miasma set in,
breathing in and out freely
without obstruction.
No walls, no doors.
Snakes,rodents and monsters
could come in and out without any boundaries,
coming and going as they please.
They treated this place as home;
we got along with them
like our houseboys.
We were originally one
with the vast earth,
Heaven Father carved out nine continents.
As long as our body and mind exist,
it is where our home is.
I am a Buddhist practitioner,
lying peacefully in the betel nut field,
my place of practice and lodging.
I let go of everything
and don’t know what dusty world is…………..
I have no more dealings with dusty world,
doing nothing
and not bounded by anything.
I have no lacks
nor do I have any leftovers.
This is my lodging while alive
and burial site when dead.
I have served in officialdom
for thirty six years,
I can only fantasize infinitely
in this undeveloped world.”


Lychee Poetry

loquat waxberry

Eating Lychees

Under Mount Lofu all four seasons are like spring,
waxberries and loquats fresh everyday.
Feasting on lychees, three hundred a day,
I would not mind being a Peak South local.

Lament for Lychees

Every ten li a station swirling with dust,
every five li a post urging couriers to hurry.
Men die like flies, their corpses line the road,
so lychees and longans may be delivered to court.
Carriages race over hills,
boats sweep through the seas.
With newly plucked fruit on fresh boughs,
leaves still dewy,
all to win a smile from the beauty in the palace.

Dragon Eye Trees   Lychee bunch on tree
Though it cost bloodshed and strife, its effect remains for ever.
Lychees came from different districts at different eras
people still hate the ministers who recommended offering
but nobody would commerorate the ones with integrity.
I only wish heavenly father would have mercy on the little people,
don’t ever create such sensual beauties to become people’s doom,
if only wind and rain are well tempered
for a prosperous harvest in all the valleys,
the best omen is people exempt from hunger and cold.
Didn’t you see the officials pack and cage tea shootlings
from best cultivation areas for offerings?
Wrangling for new ideas for offering to gain favors,
today’s limited items become offering tea.
Do our emperors really lack these things?
How disgusting and mean to indulge only
the emperor’s mouth and body?
It’s a pity ministers remaining at the capital
came from model families for loyalty and filial piety,
they too offer peony to gain favors.

Most Touching Poem of Love and Loss

Chinese Infant boy colored

Mourn for Infant Son

“I am forty nine,
I lost my infant son while traveling.
My infant son is no doubt my child, with brows like mine…………
At my old age, joy is rare,
I rely on him for laughs and joy;
suddenly he was taken away………….
We could not but wrap him with cloth and firewood according to customs,
in no time he turned to ashes.
Coming home with empty arms,
my elderly tears poured like water slides.
My tears could be wiped and
memories would fade as days go by.
I could not bear to hear
the weeping mother
and her wanting to die with him.
His clothes hanging on the rack
as milk overflowed
from her breast to the bed.”

Su Shih’s most popular love poem

Fo and Su's statues

Above is a photo of  statues of Su and his first wife in their teenage years at his homeland Meishan.

A Love Poem to First Wife Ten Years after her Death

“Hopelessly lost for ten years,
dead or alive.
Don’t think about it
but how can it be forgotten?
Your lone grave,
thousand miles away;
where can we talk out our sorrows?
Even if we meet,
we would not recognize each other;
my face covered with dust,
sideburns white as frost.

Last night I had a deep dream,
as if back in homeland,
outside of your little window.
We look at each other, not a word,
a thousand lines of tears on our cheeks.
See year after year
the gut wrenching site:
bright moon night,
stubby pine slope.”

Above is a clip from a TV drama on Su Shih with a theme song of the love poem.
The most touching scene is the boat trip with two coffins of father and first wife going home. (start at 2:08- 3:26).

If you want to watch the home funeral (0:40) attended by ministers with Emperor’s edict mandate around 2:00-2:08. The scene of Su’s six year old son crying jerks tears, You can also see shots of second wife, Su Shih and his brother in white. The clip starts with death scene of Su’s first wife Fo with second wife-to-be and Fo’s son followed by Su’s sick father at the door.

Su Shih’s West Lake poem at Apple Store

A Drink at West Lake, Sun and Rain

Water ripples glimmering in the sun, just perfect.
Mountain hues in clear veil of misty rain, spectacular too.
Should we take West Lake as Beauty West,
Fair, light or heavy cosmetics alike.

(City Hermit’s translation)

Apple features calligrapher who created Hangzhou Apple Store mural in ‘About the Artist’ video

Apple on Thursday posted to its YouTube channel a translated version of a promo video featuring artist Wang Dongling, initially created for the Chinese market in celebration of the unveiling of a new West Lake Apple Store in Hangzhou.

Two days ago, Apple took the wraps off its latest retail outlet in Hangzhou, China, tearing down protective barriers bearing original artwork commissioned from noted calligrapher Wang Dongling. To commemorate the event, a video was created showing a behind the scenes look at Wang’s work.

Apple has since translated the short feature and uploaded the results to its official YouTube channel under the title “Apple Store, West Lake – About the Artist.” Wang discusses Hangzhou and the West Lake region, explaining that the 2000-year-old poem “Praising West Lake in the Rain” was a perfect fit for the project.

The poem reads:

Shimmering water on sunny days
Blurred mountains through rainy haze
West Lake is like the beauty, Xizi
With light or heavy makeup, always beautiful

According to Wang, Hangzhou combines both traditional Chinese culture with a modern cityscape open to new ideas.

“To have a West Lake Apple Store in Hangzhou, it will also add another highlight to the city,” Wang said.