Yuan Mei: Three Poems
Yuan Mei (1716-1799) was one of the few great poet scholars in Qing Dynasty that I love. Whenever poeple talk about Classical Chinese poetry, the names such as LI Po, DU Fu, Bo Juyi, Tao Yuanming, Su Shi would pop up into their minds, and for good reasons, too. For the dynasties that came after the greatest poem dynasty Tang, regulated verse appeared to be in the decline. However, the regulated poetry has always been the most respected genre in China, even with the popularity of lyrics (ci-poem) in Song Dynasty that followed Tang. Yuan Mei's poetry is sometimes very colloquial, and almost every object in the daily life could enter his poetry, such as chopsticks etc. He was influenced by Zen Buddhism, and the following poems may exemplify the point.
Passing by the Green Creek, by chance,
Where spring water runs through the misty wilderness,
I noticed a fishing rod on the ground
And saw no one around.
偶accidental 过pass by
偶accidental 过pass by青Green溪Creek上over
濛濛misty 野wide 水water 春spring
钓to fish with a hook鱼fish竿rod在 (be/exist) on地ground
不not 见see钓fishing鱼fishing 人man
Call on someone
That night, I tried to call on someone
in the mountain, under the thick moonlight.
I knocked on the gate,
no one seemed to be alarmed,
and only a crane answered.
The Window Pushed Open
All the night, rain and wind are charging hard,
And my brushwood door has been shut tight.
The mountain must have been missing me for too long,
For it pushes open the window, coming at my face.