Dreaming at the sun’s edge

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Li Bai “The Traveller’s Road is Hard”

Translation and artwork: Lena Tan, 2003

Li Bai was born in Central Asia to a family outside the Tang artistocracy. He created a
rebel persona by exaggerating his eccentricities and writing a flamboyant poetry that has been called “strangeness on top of strangeness.” He was never accepted by his contemporaries in the capital, though his prodigious talent got him an appointment in the emperor’s court, from which he was eventually dismissed for frequent transgressions on the social conventions.

More poets…

Peace on Earth (please?)

 

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The Philharmonia Orchestra (London, UK) plays In the Bleak Midwinter.

Recall the homily of Pope Francis on November 19:

We are close to Christmas: there will be lights, there will be parties, bright trees, even Nativity scenes – all decked out – while the world continues to wage war. The world has not understood the way of peace.

What shall remain in the wake of this war, in the midst of which we are living now?

What shall remain? Ruins, thousands of children without education, so many innocent victims: and lots of money in the pockets of arms dealers. Jesus once said: ‘You can not serve two masters:  either God or riches.’ War is the right choice for him, who would serve wealth: ‘Let us build weapons, so that the economy will right itself somewhat, and let us go forward in pursuit of our interests. There is an ugly word the Lord spoke: ‘Cursed!’ Because He said: ‘Blessed are the peacemakers!’ The men who work war, who make war, are cursed, they are criminals. A war can be justified – so to speak – with many, many reasons, but when all the world as it is today, at war – piecemeal though that war may be – a little here, a little there, and everywhere – there is no justification – and God weeps. Jesus weeps.

Peace, please?

 


 

In the Bleak Midwinter
Text: Christina G. Rossetti, 1830-1894
Music: Gustav Holst, 1874-1934

Last verse:

What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb;
If I were a wise man
I would do my part;
Yet what I can, I give Him –
Give my heart.

The Horse

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The Horse

Coloured pencil drawing. Available as 4″ x 6″ print mounted on greeting card.

The Fisher Price horse broke after one move too many. It was in the basement for many years, still ridable but at some risk, and I was surprisingly sad when I finally put it in the garbage can.

You will find this greeting card at Little Earth, 1020 Commercial Drive, Vancouver, B.C.

The year at dusk

 

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Du Fu “Night in a Pavilion”

Translation and artwork: Lena Tan, 2003

Du Fu

(712-770, Tang Dynasty)

Du Fu came from a family of distinguished scholars and officials. In his youth, he showed a talent for poetry and calligraphy. All his life he longed to serve his emperor and country but failed to secure a stable role in officialdom, which consigned his family to a life of relative poverty. He observed the extravagance of the emperor’s court, the suffering of the people, and the ravages of war, and wrote about that in his poetry.

Du Fu is an acknowledged virtuoso in technique and language, master of the perfect couplet while innovative in style and content. Another Tang poet, Yuan Zhen, inscribed on Du Fu’s tomb: “Since there have been poets, there has never been Du Fu’s equal.”

More poets…

White clouds without end

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Wang Wei, “A Parting”

Translation and artwork: Lena Tan, 2003

Wang Wei

(701-761, Tang Dynasty)

Born into an established family, Wang Wei enjoyed a position in high society, serving successfully in government. He was well-schooled in poetry, calligraphy, music and painting, and was sophisticated and innovative in his art. He became a devout Buddhist and wrote meditative poems of great simplicity and understatement. Yet his work reflected an ongoing discord between his sense of public responsibility and a private desire for renunciation.

 

More images…

More poets…

Spot on, Justin

W5_Trudeau

In an interview on CTV, Lisa LaFlamme asked Justin Trudeau: “Stephen Harper said after a decade in power we wouldn’t recognize the country. I wonder what your goal is for what Canada will look like after four years of a Trudeau government.”

Trudeau said, “I have spent an awful lot of time listening to Canadians, learning from them, working with them. I like to think that after four years of my government, Canadians will deeply recognize their country.”

So long, Stephen. You will not be missed.

At Maple Bridge we moored for the night

楓橋

moon setscrows cawfrost fills the sky

river maplesfishermen's firesfacing sorrow, I sleep

Gusu townoutside its wallsCold Mountain Temple

at midnightthe bell's soundreaches the traveller's boat

This poem by Zhang Ji (張繼 c.800, Tang Dynasty) is a seven-character quatrain, consisting of two pairs of parallel couplets. It has long been regarded as a masterpiece in that genre.

Gusu, now part of the modern city of Suzhou, was the capital  of the ancient state of Wu in southern China.

Around 500 BCE, the states of Wu and Yue contended for supremacy. According to the legend, the King of Yue presented the King of Wu with the beautiful Xi Shi. The King of Wu was so beguiled with her that he was unprepared when the King of Yue attacked and defeated him. Part of the melancholy of the poem is the evocation of the well-known legend in the name of the old city.

The first Cold Mountain (Hanshan) Temple was built in the Liang Dynasty (502-557).

These ATCs have been traded but are available as 4″ x 6″ prints.

To the Mid-Autumn Moon

Chang-E in her moon palace; Mid-autumn festival 2003

Chang-E in her moon palace; mid-autumn festival 2003

 

Mid-autumn festival, sipping osmanthus tea and nibbling on lotus mooncake.

The Song poet Li Qingzhao 李清照 (c.1083-aft.1149) posed a riddle:

Naturally, it ranks first among flowers.
The plum surely is jealous,
The chrysanthemum should be ashamed;
It opens by the painted railing, capping the mid-autumn.




(from “Partridge Sky” 鷓鴣天, 暗淡)

Another Song poet Su Shi 蘇軾 (1037-1101) raised his wine cup, and, thinking of his brother far away, sang to the full moon:

We can only hope to live long,
And across a thousand li, together cling to its beauty.


嬋娟

(from “Prelude to the Water Melody” 調頭, 有, written in 1076 )

Translations by Lena Tan

On abortion, Sanders stays true

Bernie Sanders at Liberty University(Starting at 7:39 on the video):

“Senator Sanders, you have talked in your campaign about how it is immoral to protect the billionaire class at the expense of our most vulnerable in society, obviously children…. A majority of Christians would agree with you … but would also go further and say that children in the womb need our protection even more…. How do you reconcile the two?”

Bernie Sanders answers:

“…on this very sensitive issue on which this nation is divided… my view is I respect absolutely a family that says, ‘No, we are not going to have an abortion,’ I understand that, I respect that. But I would hope that other people will respect the very painful and difficult choice that many women feel they have to make and don’t want the government telling them what they have to do.”

Listen to women cheering at his answer. When medical science discovers a way to transplant a fetus to a man’s body, we’ll ask the question again.

Sanders also says in his response:

“I want to tell you what was in the Republican budget that passed a number of months ago… When you talk about issues of children, understand the Republican budget threw 27 million people off of health care, including many children, at a time when many families cannot afford to send their kids to college.”

The entire speech is worth watching –  he talks justice! morality!

My own view on abortion:

Let’s support girls and women with education and good jobs so that no woman has to defer to a man over control of her body. Let’s bring up boys to respect women and women’s bodies so that there are no unwanted pregnancies. Let’s give pregnant women the financial support they need to take care of their babies so that abortion is not a consequence of poverty.

Ever gonna happen?