One of the few literary men of the day whose later life was devoted entirely to literature. He was the inseparable friend of the famous Buddhist poet and doctor, Wang Wei. He spent the first forty years of his life in acquiring knowledge, but having failed to obtain his doctor's degree, he returned to the quiet hills of his native province and dedicated his remaining years to composition. Most of his poems, other than certain political satire, which drew on him the Emperor's wrath, are full of subtle sadness and fragrant regret, reminding one of pot-pourri in some deep blue porcelain bowl.
The Lost One
The red gleam o'er the mountains Goes wavering from sight, And the quiet moon enhances The loveliness of night.
I open wide my casement To breathe the rain-cooled air. And mingle with the moonlight The dark waves of my hair.
The night wind tells me secrets Of lotus lilies blue; And hour by hour the willows Shake down the chiming dew.
I fain would take the zither, By some stray fancy led; But there are none to hear me, And who can charm the dead?
So all my day-dreams follow The bird that leaves the nest; And in the night I gather The lost one to my breast.
A Friend Expected
Over the chain of giant peaks The great red sun goes down, And in the stealthy floods of night The distant valleys drown.
Yon moon that cleaves the gloomy pines Has freshness in her train; Low wind, faint stream, and waterfall Haunt me with their refrain.
The tired woodman seeks his cot That twinkles up the hill; And sleep has touched the wanderers That sang the twilight still.
To-night -- ah! beauty of to-night I need my friend to praise, So take the lute to lure him on Through the fragrant, dew-lit ways.Next