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Poetry of Wang Wei

Wang Wei (699 – 761)

Wang Wei ( A Buddhist / Taoist Poet) is considered to be one of the three great poets of the Tang Period, along with LI Po and Tu Fu. Wang Wei was also a great painter of the era.

Deer Park Hermitage

No one seen amongst empty mountains
only echoes of speech resound
Sunlight’s ending reflections
reach deep through the woods
enlightening dark green moss.

This is one of the most translated Chinese poems. It makes for an excellent chance to look at how different translations changes the feel of a poem.

Sometimes I’d Walk

Sometimes I’d walk,
walk far from home,
the things I’ve seen,
and I alone.

Farewell

Dismounting, I offer my friend a cup of wine,
I ask what place he is headed to.
He says he has not achieved his aims,
Is retiring to the southern hills.
Now go, and ask me nothing more,
White clouds will drift on for all time.

Hut in the Bamboos

Sitting alone, in the hush of the bamboo;
I thrum my zither, and whistle lingering notes.
In the secrecy of the wood, no one can hear
Except the clear moon shining on me.

A Song of an Autumn Night.

Under the crescent moon a light autumn dew
Has chilled the robe she will not change
And she touches a silver lute all night,
Afraid to go back to her empty room.

Xiang Ji Temple

Xiang Ji Temple is…
God knows how far up that cloudy peak.
Those old trees harbor no human path,
But the deep mountains keep, somewhere, a bell.
Spring’s rustling swallowed up by jagged stones,
The sun’s fire frozen on the evergreens,
Hollow twilight drains the pool of song,
And quiet Zen quells the dragon’s venom.

A Song of Peach-Blossom River

A fisherman is drifting, enjoying spring mountains,
Peach-trees on both banks
Leading one to an ancient source.
Watching fresh-colored trees, never thinking of distance
Coming to the end of the blue stream
-suddenly- strange men!
To a cave-with a mouth so narrow
forcing him to crawl through;
But then it opens wide again on a broad and level path —
Far beyond clouds crowning a reach of trees,
Thousands of homes shadowed round
with flowers and bamboos…
Woodsmen tell him their names in the ancient speech of Han;
Clothes of the Qin Dynasty are worn by all these people
Living on the uplands, above the Wuling River,
On farms and in gardens that are like a world apart,
Their dwellings at peace under pines in the clear moon,
Until sunrise fills the low sky with crowing and barking.
…At news of a stranger the people all assemble,
Each of them invites him in to ask him of home
Alleys and paths are cleared for him of petals in the morning,
Fishermen and farmers bring him their loads at dusk….
They had left the world long ago,
having come here seeking refuge;
They have lived as angels ever since, blessedly far away,
No one in the cave knowing anything outside,
Outsiders viewing only empty mountains and thick clouds.
…The fisherman, unaware of his great good fortune,
Begins to think of the country, of home, of worldly ties,
Finds his way out of the cave, past mountains, past rivers,
Intending to return, when after telling kin.
He studies every step taken, fixes it deeply in mind,
Forgetting cliffs and peaks may vary their appearance.
…It’s certain that to enter through deepness of the mountain,
A green river leads you, into a misty wood
But now, after spring-floods everywhere
leaving floating peach petals —
Which is the way to go, to find that hidden source?

Art of Wang Wei

None of his art has survived to this day except for copies of his original work.

Snowy Stream – Original Now Lost

Art by Wang Shimin: Inspired by Wang Wei

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