Tuesday, July 03, 2018


The Best Policy

Wang Wei, farewell to Meng Hao-jan, tr. Stephen Owen, The Great Age of Chinese Poetry: The High T'ang (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1981), p. 74 (with his note):
Close your gate fast, yearn not to leave.
Keep yourself far from worldly cares ever,
Take this as the best policy—
I urge you, go home to your old cottage.
Sing drunkenly of wine taken in field-huts,
Chuckle, reading the books of ancients.
This is right for a whole lifetime—
Don't suffer writing a "Master Emptiness."

"Master Emptiness" ... was the fu of Ssu-ma Hsiang-ju that won him fame in the court of Han Wu-ti. Wang Wei is, of course, playing on the title, suggesting the vanity of public fame.
The same, tr. Jingqing Yang, The Chan Interpretations of Wang Wei's Poetry: A Critical Review (Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press, 2006), p. 27:
Shutting the gate, I don't want to go out,
I have long been estranged from worldly business,
I take this as a long-term plan,
So I also advise you to return to your old abode,
Singing drunken praises of country-brewed wine,
Reading with amusement books by men of old,
Enjoy your life like this,
Don't bother to present a "Zixu".

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