UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Competing with creative transformation : the poetry of Ouyang Xiu (1007-1072) Hawes, Colin S.C. 1996

Your browser doesn't seem to have a PDF viewer, please download the PDF to view this item.

Item Metadata

Download

Media
831-ubc_1997-195902.pdf [ 19.57MB ]
Metadata
JSON: 831-1.0087797.json
JSON-LD: 831-1.0087797-ld.json
RDF/XML (Pretty): 831-1.0087797-rdf.xml
RDF/JSON: 831-1.0087797-rdf.json
Turtle: 831-1.0087797-turtle.txt
N-Triples: 831-1.0087797-rdf-ntriples.txt
Original Record: 831-1.0087797-source.json
Full Text
831-1.0087797-fulltext.txt
Citation
831-1.0087797.ris

Full Text

COMPETING WITH CREATIVE TRANSFORMATION: THE POETRY OF OUYANG XIU (1007-1072) by COLIN S C . HAWES B.A, University of Durham, U K , 1990 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in THE F A C U L T Y OF G R A D U A T E STUDIES Department of Asian Studies University of British Columbia We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH C O L U M B I A November, 1996 ©Colin Hawes, 1996 In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. 1 further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. Department of flSlArJ SjUJ)l&S The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada DE-6 (2/88) ABSTRACT A detailed study of the poetry (shi R#) of Ouyang Xiu (1007-1072). Though Ouyang Xiu was one of the major cultural figures of the northern Song period (960-1126), later generations have rather neglected his poetry. After a brief introduction explaining this neglect, my study begins with a biographical sketch, outlining Ouyang's public career and concentrating on events that may have shaped his development as a poet. Chapter two deals with Ouyang's poems on mountains, one of his most favoured topics. I describe three kinds of mountain poems: dynamic, forceful works; tranquil works; and those which compare different kinds of mountains in an intellectual manner. Frequently domestic or cultural objects — stone screens, calligraphic rubbings, music — provide the inspiration for Ouyang's mountain poetry. Chapters three and four turn from the "cosmic" level of mountains to the "domestic" world, to discover whether other everyday objects exert a similar effect on his imagination. Chapter three deals with activities: poems on tea and wine drinking; eating; sleeping; music and calligraphy. These works tend to jump back and forth between the mundane and the transcendent, as Ouyang traces each subject to its source in the natural world. Chapter four treats the buildings, gardens, pets and plants in Ouyang's immediate environment. Techniques of caricature and witty argumentation increasingly appear in his mature verse. Water is a central figure in Ouyang's mountain poems. Chapter five reverts to the "cosmic" level to discuss Ouyang's poetry on water in its many transformations: storms, snow, reflected moonlight, rivers and the ocean. In his mature works, Ouyang increasingly mixes levels of discourse — prosaic and lyrical, pure and crude — to indicate the complexity of human reaction to outside events. The concluding chapter summarizes the evolution of Ouyang's poetic style. I define wit, noting its centrality in the English poetic tradition. I carefully analyse Ouyang's recorded comments on poetry: he constantly advocates breadth and variety of mood and subject matter, including even laughter and joking, crudity and baseness. I suggest possible influences on his style, especially Mid-Tang poets like Han Y u and Bai Juyi, and his own contemporary, Mei Yaochen. Finally, I yoke together the concept of wit and Ouyang's phrase "competing with Creative Transformation": like the English witty poets, Ouyang transforms harsh realities into ingenious artistic structures, and finds vitality in the midst of suffering and destruction. iii TABLE OF CONTENTS Abstract ii Table of Contents iv Acknowledgement V INTRODUCTION 1 Chapter One Biographical Sketch 8 Chapter Two Dynamic, Tranquil, Intellectual: Poems on Mountains 53 Dynamic Mountains 56 Tranquil Mountains 83 Mountain Comparisons: Influence of the Intellect 97 Chapter Three Everyday and Cultural Activities 115 Drinking Tea and Wine 116 Food 144 Sleep 161 Musical Performance 166 Writing Tools and Equipment 173 Chapter Four Everyday Environment: Buildings, Gardens, Creatures, Plants 185 White Animals and Birds: Poems from the 1050s 212 Plants and Trees 235 Chapter Five Transforming Water 258 Rain and Storms 259 Snow 277 The Moon 292 Rivers and the Sea 301 Conclusion Ouyang Xiu, Style and the Tradition of Wit 321 A Definition of Wit 321 Ouyang Xiu on Poetry 332 The Classic of Poetry 336 The "Remarks on Poetry" 342 The Necessity of Poetry 351 Incongruous Juxtaposition and Caricature 359 The Development of Ouyang's Poetic Style 370 The Mature Style of the 1050s and 1060s 385 Ouyang Xiu and Wit? 388 Works Consulted 392 iv ACKNOWLEDGEMENT I would like to express my gratitude to all the members of my dissertation committee. Prof. J.D. Schmidt, my supervisor, first encouraged me to concentrate on the poetry of the Song dynasty; his stimulating seminars and research on wit in southern Song poetry have greatly influenced the ideas in this dissertation, and he has suggested many corrections to my translations. Prof. Dan Overmyer also offered much encouragement, guiding my reading in the area of Tang-Song thought and providing a living example of a conscientious scholar. Prof. Michael Duke was helpful beyond the call of duty, giving excellent suggestions on English style, format and translation, and guiding me in the study of traditional Chinese poetics. Without his assistance, my dissertation would look a great deal more ragged than it does. I would also like to acknowledge the encouragement of the other members of my examining committee, Prof. Graham Good (English) and Prof. George McWhirter (Creative Writing). In the wider university community, I greatly appreciated the help of Linda Joe (Librarian), Yim Tse (Chinese Librarian), and the other staff at the excellent Asian Library, UBC, where I worked as a part-time assistant during my studies. Also, I am very grateful to the Faculty of Graduate Studies, UBC, without whose generous fellowships I would not have been able to survive as a student. v Introduction The neglect of Ouyang Xiu's poetry began early. Even by the 13th century, the well-known Jin dynasty poet and literary critic, Yuan Haowen (1190-1257) was lamenting: " A l l the figures of the Yuanyou period come to the fore in succession . . ./But for what crime are Ou[yang Xiu] and Mei [Yaochen] discarded?"1 The Yuanyou period (1086-1093) had seen the rise to prominence of the group of literati around Su Shi (1037-1101), after most had experienced several years of disgrace and exile.2 Su was exiled again during the 1090s, and after his death was placed on a "black list," along with many former colleagues and supporters. Their writings were banned for several years.3 Yet, as Yuan Haowen notes, only a century or so later their reputations were already firmly established as literary masters. Though his writings were never actually banned, Ouyang Xiu's reputation as a shi i f poet went into decline almost as soon as Su Shi matured, and has still not revived. 1 Quoted in J.T. Wixted, Poems on Poetry: Literary Criticism by Yuan Haowen (1190-1257) (Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner Verlag, 1982) 203, with discussion on 203-207.1 have slightly changed Wixted's translation. Mei Yaochen (1002-1060) was Ouyang's close friend and well-known poet. 2 For the background to the exiles of this period and the 1090s, see Ronald Egan, Word, Image, and Deed in the Life of Su Shi (Harvard 1994) 46-53; 86-105. Hereafter referred to as Egan, Su Shi. 3 Though, as Egan notes, this ban was probably not enforceable in Su's case, due to the popularity of his writing. Egan, Su Shi 105-106. 1 Ouyang is known variously as a prose writer, classical scholar, historian and epigrapher, even as a statesman, but rarely as a poet. The Qing dynasty (1644-1911) revival of interest in Song dynasty poetry did see the publication of excellent anthologies, including generous selections of Ouyang's most interesting works,4 but no commentary survives on his poetry and more recent studies are few and far between. I have come across just one annotated anthology that includes more than a handful of his poems — Chen Xin and Du Weimo's excellent Ouyang Xiu xuanji (Shanghai: 1986) — and in English there are only brief chapters in Egan, James T.C. Liu, and Yoshikawa.5 There are several possible reasons for this neglect, including the following: (1) Ouyang's very success in so many other areas, coupled with his frequent denigration of his own poetic talents, led to the traditional view of him as a prose writer, in contrast to the poets Mei Yaochen and Su Shunqin (1008-1048), upon whom he constantly showered praise.6 (2) Traditionally, scholars have treated Ouyang as a forerunner to the so-called neo-Confucians, whose followers considered poetry a frivolous exercise, distracting 4 For example, Lu Liuliang [Qing] et al, Songshi chao (Shanghai: Shangwu, 1935) 1.279-352. 5 Ronald Egan, The Literary Works ofOu-yang Hsiu (1007-1072) (Cambridge, 1984) chap.3; hereafter referred to as Egan. James T.C. Liu, Ou-yang Hsiu (Stanford, 1967) chap. 10; Yoshikawa Kojiro, trans. Burton Watson, An Introduction to Sung Poetry (Harvard, 1967, repr. 1969) chap.3, 60-72; hereafter referred to as Yoshikawa. However, Yoshikawa praises Ouyang's poetry quite highly: see below. 6 Certainly Mei has fared better in recent years, with a book-length study on his poetry by Jonathan Chaves, Mei Yao-ch'en and the Development of Early Sung Poetry (Columbia, 1976), and a number of modern annotated anthologies, for instance, Zhu Dongrun, Mei Yaochen shixuan (Beijing: Renmin wenxue, 1980). Su Shunqin is still rather neglected, especially in the West; though see my chapter 4, n.5 for an excellent annotated Chinese edition of his complete works. 2 people from moral self-cultivation.7 Many of Ouyang's general comments about writing emphasize the centrality of the Way (dao $t) as promulgated in the Confucian Classics; and since his poetry is seldom openly moralistic, the assumption has been that it contradicts his more "serious" writings — memorials, histories and classical scholarship.8 I will show that poetry, because of its very tendency to dwell on "trivial" subjects and moods neglected by other genres, fulfilled a crucial function in Ouyang's life, and helps to round out our picture of his brilliant and humane personality. (3) Perhaps the general character of the poetry by Ouyang and some of his contemporaries has prevented its widespread acceptance: the plain, even prosaic, style; the serious consideration of oddity and ugliness alongside beauty; and even the wit and intellectual humour of many of his poems seem at first to remove them from the realm of lyrical intensity usually associated with, for example, Tang dynasty poetry.9 However, I would prefer to regard Ouyang's style as different rather than inferior. The fact that Yoshikawa sees Ouyang as the major initiator of a distinctive Song dynasty style and mood, and that apart from Mei Yaochen, he was the most prolific of the poets in his generation, hint that further study is necessary; a reading of his poems proves that there is a wealth of material on which to base that study. 7 Both Liu and Egan seem influenced by this view to a certain degree. 8 See Egan's translation of one such comment on writing by Ouyang. Egan 22. 9 Probably the reason that Ouyang's "lyrics" (ci W\) have been studied much more frequently is connected with their use of more traditional imagery and more "poetic" themes of separation, love, and natural and female beauty. See studies by James J. Y . Liu, Major Lyricists of the Northern Sung (Princeton 1974) 17-53; and Egan, chapter 5, in English; also the complete modern annotated collection of Ouyang's lyrics in Chinese with introduction: L i X i , Ouyang Xiu ci yanjiu jiqijiaozhu (Taipei, 1982). For this reason I do not deal with Ouyang's lyrics in this dissertation. 3 The basic purpose of this dissertation is therefore to make available to the English reader a significant number of Ouyang Xiu's poems, the great majority never translated previously, and to analyse in a sympathetic light the various techniques that he developed to express his distinctive vision. I begin with a biographical sketch, which will place Ouyang's life within the context of northern Song society, and describe the effects of the people he met, and the various stages in his very public career, on his literary development. Following this biography, the four central chapters will turn to translation and analysis of his major poems. Reading these poems, one is struck by Ouyang's breadth of interest and curiosity with the manifold aspects of the universe. My aim is to suggest this "encyclopedic" variety through division into broadly related topics rather than chronological periods. Another feature common to Ouyang's poems is their carefully organized complexity of structure, including antitheses, incongruous juxtapositions, and mixed levels of discourse within single overarching patterns. I have attempted to emulate this feature by arranging my study according to two juxtapositions of my own. First, there is the very ancient complementary relation on the "cosmic" level between mountains and waters. Since these are two of Ouyang's favourite poetic topics, I have devoted a chapter to each (chapters 2 and 5). However, it is clear that even when dealing with enormous and powerful natural phenomena, Ouyang rarely loses sight of everyday human concerns. Indeed, a great number of his poems specifically treat the objects, creatures and activities 4 of his ordinary life, providing a notable contrast to the elemental world of the landscape poetry. Hence, I have arranged a second juxtaposition between my two inner chapters (3 and 4), dealing with the activities and environment surrounding Ouyang's "domestic" existence, and the outer chapters (2 and 5) dealing with "cosmic" concerns. Yet rather than treating these separate categories as static entities, I would prefer to see them as stages on a constantly altering cycle. Ouyang's mountain poems, for instance, are frequently inspired by an evocatively formed inkstone, calligraphic inscription, screen, or some other domestic accoutrement. Likewise, his works on tea, clams or other mundane objects tend to draw the reader away to an enormous imaginative landscape or swelling ocean environment, where the particular object supposedly originated. A third juxtaposition, which is not exactly a separate topic but pervades the great majority of Ouyang's mature poems, is that between Ouyang himself, as poet-narrator or autobiographical persona, and the content of each specific poem. As I will demonstrate particularly in chapter 4, and again in the concluding chapter, Ouyang developed the art of self-caricature to a high degree. Thus, especially after middle age, he tends to place himself within his poems as a comical character or intrusive narrator commenting on the events he describes, or arguing in an obviously parodic manner. Though he often depicts himself in exaggerated form, suffering all the pain and inconvenience that accompany old age, we are always aware of his ability to find laughter and reasons for joy in the midst of these difficulties. And in the end it is the strength and determination that Ouyang as implied author displays, standing against the destructive powers of nature and drawing 5 inspiration from the creative side of nature, which impress us more than the ridiculous caricatures that he hides behind. In my concluding chapter, I draw out some of the general characteristics of Ouyang's style and suggest some of the precursors to his various techniques. The recurrence of ingenious juxtapositions, incongruous mixing of levels, and clever, humorous arguments and caricature add up to what one might term a "witty" approach. I offer an extended definition of wit as exemplified by two English poets, John Donne and Alexander Pope. Next I consider Ouyang's own comments on poetry. Though he prefers not to subsume his various techniques under a single term, his idea of "competing with the ingenuity of Creative Transformation" shows parallels with the concept of wit in the English tradition. Likewise, in his other comments on poetry, he stresses the importance of breadth of interest, even including laughter and humour as valid concerns, and places himself within a "witty" tradition stretching back to Han Y u (768-824) and other Mid-Tang poets, and ultimately to the Classic of Poetry (Shying M). Hence I conclude that characterizing Ouyang Xiu as a poet whose wit helps to overcome the pain and restrictions of existence, and reading his works in that light, should aid in restoring his reputation as one of the masters of Song dynasty, and Chinese, poetry. Regarding the details of translation, I have not attempted to retain Ouyang's rhyme-schemes, though I point out several times his skill in the use of rhyme. Wherever possible I have retained the original sentence order; and have endeavoured to give one English stress for each syllable in the Chinese, in order to suggest the flavour of Ouyang's 6 poetic metres. Al l proper names are transliterated using pinyin, except those in titles of books by other Western scholars and quotations from those books. All translations from Chinese texts are my own except where otherwise indicated in the notes. For dates, I give the year according to the equivalent in the modern Western calendar, but retain the month and day in the Chinese original. There is usually about one month discrepancy between the Chinese and Western months: for instance, "third month" (sanyue H M ) would be approximately April according to the Western calendar. I provide information about Ouyang's collected works and the edition that I use on page 8, note 1 below, and page 52, main text and notes. 7 Chapter 1: Biographical Sketch of Ouyang Xiu Hfc H f# (1007-1072) With several works already published on Ouyang Xiu's public life and writings,1 I will avoid repetition by concentrating on events which noticeably affected the form and content of his literary oeuvre, particularly his shi pff poetry. Ouyang Xiu (style name Yongshu 7JC Mi) was born in 1007 at Mianzhou l r | 'M (around present Mianyang County, Sichuan Province), where his father Ouyang Guan it HI i l held a minor military administrative post. Three years later, Ouyang Guan died at Taizhou ;Jt| (present Tai County, Jiangsu Province) and his wife, Madame Zheng HP 1 There are several biographies available for Ouyang Xiu, including primary sources, such as the "Record of Events" by Ouyang's son Fa #,and other Northern Song sources, including biographies in the Veritable Records (shilu $$.) of Emperor Shenzong (r. 1068-1085), all conveniently appended to Ouyang Xiu's collected works, the Ouyang Yongshu ji it PJ§ T]C M. M (Shanghai: Guoxuejiben congshu edition 1958) vol.3, 18.1-18.72, where 18 refers to the ce ffl ("part") and the number after the decimal to the page; also the "Chronological List" (nianpu ^  It) by Hu Ke i $ fBf, dated 1196, in ibid., after contents pages; and the biography in the Official Song History by Tuo Tuo, Song shi (Beijing: Zhonghua 1977) chapter 319, 10375-10382. Much useful material can also be found in Ouyang's own prose and poetic writings, especially regarding his personal life. Many modern scholars have written on his life too, for instance, Lin Y i in Song Ouyang Wenzhong gong Xiu nianpu (Taiwan: Shangwu 1980), and Liu Ruoyu in Ouyang Xiuyanjiu (Taiwan: Shangwu 1989). Also very useful is the brief chronology in Ouyang Xiu xuanji, ed. Du Weimo and Chen Xin (Shanghai 1986) 425-448, and their notes to several hundred poems and prose works by Ouyang (this work will hereafter be referred to as Xuanji). Finally, there are two English studies of Ouyang Xiu containing some biographical material, those of Egan, op.cit. and James T.C. Liu, op.cit. Though their concerns are more general than mine, concentrating on Ouyang's whole literary corpus and his political-philosophical aspects respectively, they help to provide a framework for my investigation of Ouyang's poetry. 8 R , took Ouyang Xiu to Suizhou '}[\ (present Sui County, Hubei Province) where they stayed with his paternal uncle Ouyang Ye ifc 8§ fi$L The most obvious effect of this bereavement was poverty — one story relates that Madame Zheng taught Ouyang Chinese characters by writing on the ground with a piece of firewood.2 Much later, in the "Preface to Paintings of the Seven Worthies,"3 written in 1053, Ouyang recalled their difficult situation, which was in large part the result of his father's irresponsible behaviour. The work is worth quoting in full for its candid account of family life, and the obvious respect Ouyang has for his mother's great fortitude and capability:4 I was unfortunate enough to be orphaned when young. I was born when my late father was assistant of military affairs at Mianzhou, but when I was just four years old, my father passed away. When I was a child, my late mother once said to me: "When I married into your family, we were extremely poor. As an official, your father was very correct and wasn't attracted by material things. His only delight was in inviting guests, and he would lavish wine and food upon them without considering whether we could afford it. In three years at Mianzhou, other people without exception 2 Ouyang's son Fa implies that by this method and through rote memorization, Ouyang learned many works by ancient prose writers and was soon able to compose poems too! See the "Record of Events" by Ouyang Fa, at the back of Ouyang Yongshuji, vol.3, 18.57 (this collection will be referred to as Ji). 3 In Ji vol.2, 8.36. Also translated in Egan 218-219. 4 1 interpret this passage as a rather critical portrait by Ouyang Xiu of his father. My evaluation is mainly based on Ouyang's use of the phrase "even poorer" to describe his family's situation when he was ten years old — implying that they were poor before that time, and that the cause was his father's tendency to spend money on entertaining guests rather than accumulating property which could be sold at a later date. However, it is also feasible to treat Ouyang's comments as neutral reflections on the family's unlucky plight, with no moral judgment directed against his father. 9 purchased many products of Shu 5 to take back home, but your father didn't collect a single thing; instead, he spent his income on receiving guests, so that there was nothing to spare. Upon resigning his post, he had a single bolt of silk painted with six illustrations of the Seven Worthies.6 I have great affection for these seven gentlemen.7 Apart from that, we have no other objects from Shu." Afterwards, my late father was transferred to become Magistrate of Military Affairs in Taizhou, where he died at his post. By the time I reached ten years or so, our family was even poorer. Every New Year, when we arranged the seats for the offering [to our ancestors], we would open up these illustrations on the wall. My late mother would be sure to point them out to me, saying: "They are our family heirlooms!" Over thirty years later, the illustrations were even older and dingier. When I had the honour of serving at Court, I was afraid that after such a long time they would become increasingly decayed and damaged, so I took the "Seven Worthies" and told an artisan to mount them on scrolls, so that they could be passed down for another century or more. I felt that such an old possession of the Ouyang Clan would also encourage my children and grandchildren not to forget the "pure breeze" of earlier generations, and would demonstrate what my respected father considered important. At the same time, it would show how my mother, widowed young with a small 5 Shu It) was the name of the region (around present Sichuan Province) to which Mianzhou belonged. 6 Probably the Seven Worthies (or Sages) of the Bamboo Grove (zhulin qixian f t # "fa If), a group of literati friends who lived during the Jin dynasty (265-420), and would gather occasionally for refined conversation and wine drinking. 7 It is possible that in this sentence Ouyang's mother is recalling her husband's words, otherwise it sounds a little odd for her to display such affection for these "gentlemen," even if they are painted representations. 10 child, was yet able successfully to raise her family, without losing this old possession. About twenty years after my respected father passed away, I was first successful in the civil service examination; and since then another twenty three years have gone by. The events happened in this way, but only now have I managed to compose a eulogy and preface about them. Later in his childhood, Ouyang Xiu would often visit a certain Mr. L i south of Suizhou town, to read books his family could not afford. In 1016 he discovered a battered collection of the Tang statesman Han Yu's writings there, and begged (successfully) to keep it. 8 As Egan and others have shown, Han Yu, who was not a popular model for earlier Song writers, exerted a formative stylistic influence on both Ouyang's prose and poetry.9 Less tangible, perhaps, was the effect of poverty which made every book, even every poem or prose passage, seem extremely precious.10 In fact, Ouyang's son suggests that his father's remarkable memory and scholarly habits developed very early, as a result of having to return most books that he borrowed. He would copy down passages from these books, "forgetting to sleep and eat," and before he had finished copying each passage, he would already be able to recite i t . 1 1 8 See Ouyang's account of this discovery in Ji yol.2, 9.17: "Recorded at the Back of an Old Edition of Han [Yu]'s Writings." Partially translated in Egan 14. 9 Egan 14, 20; and regarding poetry, 95-97; 104-6. Egan also points out in these pages that Ouyang's attitude towards Han Y u was not an uncritical one, particularly with regard to Han's strangeness and pessimism. Cf. Yoshikawa 64. 1 0 After all, Han Yu's works, though great, are not the normal reading fare one would associate with young boys, even scholarly ones. And Ouyang himself admitted that at this early stage he didn't understand much of what Han was discussing, but was simply convinced that his style was "expansive and boundless" (to f& M 'M haoran wuya). See Ji vol.2, 9.17. 1 1 See Ji vol.3, 18.57. 11 Ouyang was doubtless aware of the opportunities open to those who studied conscientiously. As one of his late poems from 1061 expresses i t : 1 2 I think of the past, when I first followed a teacher; Studying hard, I hoped for official appointment; I did not dare pursue fame and reputation, Al l I expected was to escape poverty and baseness; "Forgetting to eat," day would approach evening, "Burning firewood," night encroached on the dawn; 1 3 I claimed that after attaining my ambition, I'd be able to burn my brushes and inkstone; And to make up a little for my times of hardship, I would only concentrate on sleeping and eating! After several years of such study, Ouyang attempted the prefectural examination in Suizhou in 1023, failing due to incorrect use of rhyme in the rhyme-prose (%$>ju) portion of the exam.1 4 Ouyang Xiu later enjoyed composing poems with ingenious rhyme schemes, along with irregular metres and unusual content,15 and this examination is 1 2 From "Book-reading," W. # in Ji vol.1, 2.62-63; also mXuanji 197-8. 1 3 The sayings in these two lines both refer to conscientious study. 1 4 See the "Chronological List" by Hu Ke, in Ji vol.1, nianpu 1.3. Hereafter referred to as nianpu. Incidentally the contents pages of Ouyang's collection are numbered from 1.1; they are followed by the nianpu also numbered from 1.1. Following this is the original preface (Jushiji xu Jgj dr Ff) by Su Shi (1037-1101), again numbered from 1.1. Finally, the collection itself begins from 1.1 as explained above. To distinguish these identically numbered sections, I will add mulu for the contents section, nianpu for the chronological record, and Jushiji xu for Su's preface. 1 5 See for instance the "Song on a Stone Screen of Scholar Wu" (Wu Xueshi shipingge ^ Jp: -± ft Jj|i jffc) whose rhyme alters dramatically with the shifts of subject matter within the poem, and whose lines vary from 7 to 15 syllables. Original text in Ji vol. 1, 2.24-25.1 translate and discuss this work in the following chapter. 12 probably the first record of his lifelong attempt to break down the barriers of literary convention. For the moment, however, he toed the line, passing the prefectural examination in 1026, and subsequently the examination of the Ministry of Rites (|H P $ libu) in the capital Kaifeng at the second attempt in 1030, having become a protege of the scholar X u Yan ^ -fH two years earlier.16 In fact, from 1029 to 1030 Ouyang sat three examinations related to the central civil service, and placed first in all of them.1 7 As a result of his success, in the fifth month of 1030, a great change occurred in his life when the central government posted him to Luoyang (present Henan province), then called the Western Capital, to become a judge under the metropolitan governor Qian Weiyan tH M 977-1034). There are at least three major developments which stem from Ouyang's time in Luoyang. Firstly, he began to write in earnest, and along with several colleagues such as Yin Shu (P j5jc 1001-1047) and Xie Jiang ( i f & 995-1039), cultivated an unadorned prose style which later became a standard model for the majority of prose writers in pre-modern China. 1 8 From the beginning, his poetry also embodied many characteristics of his mature style, such as philosophical depth and an everyday, "rough" diction. For example, his 1 6 X u Yan was from Hanyang (present Hubei Province). Ouyang had failed the Ministry of Rites examination in 1027; the following year, he visited Xu and showed the scholar some of his writings. Xu considered them outstanding, inviting him to become a live-in student at Hanyang. Hence his dramatic improvement to become the top-ranked scholar in 1030 was probably the result of X u Yan's guidance. Those who passed the exam, were called Presented Scholars (jinshi jit dr). For these events, see Ji vol. 1, nianpu 1.3. 1 7 These were in the Directorate of Education, the National University and the afore-mentioned Ministry of Rites (ibid.). 1 8 For the influence of Yin Shu on Ouyang, see Ouyang Fa's comments in Ji vol.3, 18.57-58. For Xie Jiang, see Egan 25, and Jonathan Chaves, op.cit. 4. Ouyang Fa claims that the prose style developed by these men became the standard style within 40 years (op.cit. 18.58). 13 poem entitled "Answering Yang Pi's Seven-Syllable Composition 'Praying for Rain ' " 1 9 contains the following plain philosophical analysis of the rhythms of nature: "I've heard that the forces of yin mdyang in Heaven and on the Earth,/Rise and fall, above and below, never ceasing their motion./In their cycle they cannot avoid experiencing lacks and losses./As a result, at the year's end, the harvests are not always good." 2 0 Another member of Qian's entourage, the poet Mei Yaochen ($ | J=§ E 1002-1060), was extremely influential with regard to poetry, and became one of Ouyang's closest friends.21 Secondly, in Luoyang Ouyang and his large circle of like-minded friends, all talented literati, were able to indulge in many stimulating cultural and social activities. One of Ouyang's earliest sets of poems describes six of his literati friends at Luoyang, giving an impression of their broad interests, and concludes with an "Autobiographical Sketch:"2 2 By nature I am dissolute and unrestrained, And thus, as an official I am also dissolute. Don't I resemble a leather sack, 4 Laid on a cart, and led by the cart's wheels? The fashionable gents didn't cast a glance towards me, Left in solitude, I had no-one to talk to. But thankfully there are some young blades of Luoyang, 1 9 In.// vol.1, 6.41-42. For a full translation of the poem and explanation of the title, see chapter 5 below. 2 0 Yin and yang |# were considered since ancient times in China to represent opposing forces in the cosmos whose continuous interaction produced all phenomena in the universe. For further use of these terms by Ouyang, see especially chapter 4, section on birds and animals, below. 2 1 A very detailed study of Mei Yaochen is Chaves, op.cit. Yoshikawa Kqjiro also has a section on Mei, in Yoshikawa 72-79. Mei will reappear often during my discussion of Ouyang's poetry. 2 2 For the series, see Ji vol. 1, 6.50-51. Xuanji 3-4 also has the "Autobiographical Sketch." Chaves, op.cit. 4-5, gives details on the six friends, who included Mei Yaochen, Yin Shu, Zhang Rushi, Yang Zicong, Zhang Taisu and Wang Yuan. 14 8 Who allow me daily to climb to their height. I drink in their virtues, and am "intoxicated by fine wine," Wafting fragrance, they "adorn me with spring orchids."2 3 Frequently, when finished with military missives, 12 We compose and drink wine, enjoying ourselves together. Apart from wine and good conversation, Ouyang's various other pastimes and interests were no doubt encouraged by this refined environment. For example, references to zither-playing, peony cultivation and tea-drinking occur in his writings of the early 1030s,24 to be joined later by other pursuits like antique and stone connoisseurship, calligraphy and collecting of ancient inscriptions 2 5 Ouyang's many poems on these themes, composed throughout his career, provide us with a unique glimpse into the 2 3 According to Xuanji 4, n.3, both the phrases in this couplet imply receiving blessings by one's association with those of great moral worth. 2 4 "Zither" refers to the qin a long, rectangular seven-stringed instrument which was placed horizontally on a table, and the strings plucked with a plectrum. For a poem describing zither music from c. 1033, see "On the River, Playing the Zither" (Jiangshang tan qin tL _h W W ) inJi vol.1, 6.47. For peonies, see Ouyang's prose piece of 1034, "Record of Luoyang Peonies" (Luoyang mudan ji #r |# £fc fl- H ) in Ji vol.2, 9.2-9, and my discussion of this work and several peony poems in chapter 4 below. For tea, see a poem from 1031, "Wisdom of the Moon Adept Travels to the Southern Peak" in Ji vol. 1, 2.61, translated in chapter 3 below. 2 5 Ouyang composed two poems in c.1037 on an ancient tile crafted into an inkstone (Ji vol. 1, 6.57-58), one of which is translated in chapter 3 below, perhaps his first treatment of the antique theme. For stones, see especially chapter 2 below. Calligraphy seems to have been a later hobby, and not his forte, as he relates in a letter to Mei Yaochen of 1053: " . . . [My technique] is like a boat sailing against the wind: having used up all my strength and spirit, Fm still in the same place as before! . . ." (Ji vol.3, 17.44). In the same letter, Ouyang also notes that he took up archery for a while, but made little progress in it (ibid.). His collected works contain a volume of "Calligraphy Exercises" (Shi bi jt^ ^ ) , Ji vol.3, 14.127-135, though only the content of the pieces, not his calligraphic style, survives there. He also wrote two poems entitled "Practicing Calligraphy" (Xue shu <P i l f ) probably in the late 1050s (Ji vol.1, 6.79); the second is translated by Burton Watson, in Yoshikawa 71. As for ancient inscriptions, see note 117 below. 15 profound way of thinking which lay behind such pursuits, a point which I will develop further in later chapters. Finally, with regard to this Luoyang period, biographies of Ouyang Xiu almost unanimously draw special attention to the two excursions he took to nearby Mount Song in 1032.2 6 Whether or not he had formulated his ideas about mountains before these trips, it is from this time that Ouyang begins to treat the mountain, in all its "ecological" complexity, as a powerful poetic symbol. Though it is difficult to echo Ouyang's own pronouncement, in a late poem of 1069, that "not one of my poems does not speak of mountains,"27 many of those that do are remarkable, and I would suggest that his poems on other themes often bear traces of inspiration received from the mountain environment. I will treat this theme in more detail in the following chapter, only mentioning here Ouyang's series of compositions from 1032, "Twelve Poems on Mount Song." 2 8 Continuing for now with the chronology of Ouyang Xiu's life, at the end of 1033 Qian Weiyan was replaced by Wang Shu (3E 963-1034) as governor of Luoyang, and in the third month of 1034, Ouyang completed his own term of office there and, on the recommendation of the new governor, was given a post in the capital Kaifeng 2 9 For the next two years he was one of those responsible for editing the catalogue of the Imperial Archives, called the Chongwen zongmu ^ t § @ 3 0 2 6 These were in the second and ninth months of this year, the first trip with Mei Yaochen, Yang Zicong, Zhang Yingzhi and Chen Jiang; the second with Xie Jiang, Yin Shu, Wang Jidan and Yang again. See Ji vol.1, nianpu 1.4, and vol.3, 18.72-76, which appends two letters by Xie Jiang, and one poem by Mei Yaochen describing these excursions. 2 7 From the first poem of "Left on the Wall at Southern Tower, Two Quatrains," written in Qingzhou. See//' vol.1, 2.119; also mXuanji 212. 2 8 I n . / / vol.1, 6.42-44. 2 9 See Ji vol. 1, nianpu 1.4. Xuanji 429-430. 3 0 The catalogue project was first directed by Wang Yaochen (3E ^§ E ) and was named after the Chongwen Academy (0 ~3C 1^) where the Imperial book collection was stored. Ouyang's introductions to various sections of the catalogue are included in his collected works: Ji vol.3, 14.57-67. The final catalogue, recording over thirty thousand titles, was not completed until 1039, after Ouyang's first exile. See below for more details. 16 Though during this period he was rising rapidly through the official hierarchy, his family life was struck by repeated tragedies, beginning even before his move from Luoyang with the death of his first wife, Madame Xu in 103 3. 3 1 She was the daughter of Ouyang's first teacher Xu Yan, and he had married her in 1031 following his success in the civil service examinations. She had borne him a son less than a month before her death.32 Ouyang composed a poem in her memory, entitled "Drinking Alone at Green Bamboo Hal l , " 3 3 and an excellent rhyme-prose, "Relating Dreams,"3 4 which contains the vivid lines: . . . I can see you only in my dreams — So why do I sleep so little and wake so often? Sleeping ten times, perhaps I see you only once — And you seem there, yet not there, Seem to leave, then seem to come back, Suddenly you seem close, and then far away, So distant — so sudden — Yet still better than not seeing you at all — I long for those momentary dreams! 3 1 Traditionally in China, married women have kept their father's surname (their maiden name). 3 2 Ji vol. 1, nianpu 1.4. Hence, her death was possibly a result of complications after giving birth, a very common cause of mortality at this time. The son died in 1038 (ibid. 1.6). 3 3 In Ji vol. 1, 6.45-46; also in Xuanji 17-18. 3 4 Ji vol.2, 7.41, and in Xuanji 267-268. In my translation, I use a dash for the Chinese character xi which functions as a pause. This character is used frequently in the rhyme-prose (Hl/w) genre. 17 Having remarried, in 1034, the daughter of one Yang Daya ^ ^ f t in Kaifeng, Ouyang was bereaved again just the following year.3 5 Also in 1035, his younger sister lost her husband, and she moved in to Ouyang's house to live with their mother.36 As we shall see, this event had serious repercussions on Ouyang many years later. For the present, Ouyang was left in a distraught and sick state, as his poem bidding farewell to a friend visiting from Luoyang makes clear:3 7 [Line 9] Since arriving at the capital, I've twice mourned the spring, Haggard and worn, I exhaust my sadness in the dust of the Nine Streets.38 Red bulbs and violet buds are emerging all over the place, 12 But I lack friends to accompany me riding out to find them. The Yellow River in the third month flows into the River Sui, And when the river waters rise, my gloomy desires rise too. And all because I cherish the place from which these waters come: 16 They bear within them the flowing Y i , and the ripples of the Luo . 3 9 Suddenly, I discover that you have come from the Western Capital, Wiping my tears, I look at you: my eyes grow bright for a moment. My heart is weakened, my face aged: I fear that you will ask why, 20 Startled at my emaciated bones, as clear as jagged ice. This year, in the seventh month, my sister lost her husband, The little children and the widowed woman wept with mourning sobs. 3 5 Ji vol. 1, nianpu 1.5. 3 6 Ibid, for the brother-in-law's death; and for his sister's move, see Ouyang's memorial of 1045, "At Chuzhou, Thanking the Emperor," mJi vol.2, 10.102-103. 3 7 The poem's title translates as " A Song to See Off Zhang Duntian, on His Return to Luo[yang]," found in Ji vol.1, 6.53. 3 8 The capital (line 9) was Kaifeng, and the Nine Streets were its main thoroughfares. 3 9 I.e. tributaries of the Yellow River which flowed through Luoyang, the Western Capital of the next line. 18 Fall came, and in the ninth month, I lost my [second] wife, 24 By the tenth month, weak in spirit, sickness overtook my frame. Living alone, I moved my sick body beneath the new city wall, The whole day I stay in the house, and no-one bothers to visit. Passing the time all by myself, I feel the urge to sing loudly, 28 But even before the melody ends, two lines of tears splash down . . . Though clearly very disturbed by these deaths, Ouyang did not dwell on them as much in his poetry as Mei Yaochen who, having lost his first wife in 1044 after seventeen years of marriage, poured out his grief in page after page of poems, going over his feelings to an almost obsessive degree.40 During the same period 1034-1036, the great reforming statesman Fan Zhongyan W % 989-1052) had been steadily rising through the ranks, reaching the post of Kaifeng governor in 1035. He was keen to reform the civil service examination system and to reduce corruption among government officials, and took every opportunity to criticize abuses of the system 4 1 However, his advice was not taken graciously by the establishment, especially the Chief Councillor Lu Yijian (B % fU 978-1043), and Fan was exiled in 1036 to Raozhou H jt| (present Boyang County, Jiangxi Province), for overstepping his official position. Several of Ouyang's friends, including Yin Shu and Y u Jing ( ^ ^ 1000-1064), supported Fan, and were similarly banished to the provinces. Ouyang, having openly 4 0 For a detailed discussion of Mei's poems on his wife, see Chaves, op.cit. 146-160. Yoshikawa, discussing a later poem of Ouyang's on the death of his daughter Shi, notes too the very orderly way in which Ouyang describes his grief spreading from one part of his body to another (Yoshikawa 66-67; Chinese text of poem in Ji vol.1, 1.21-22, dated 1045). This tendency to favour ingenious poetic structures, which emerges in many of Ouyang's poems, does not mean that he is belittling the pain of bereavement, but as I will show later, seems eventually to help him find a sense of order in an otherwise ruthless environment — an environment which in 1035 had overcome him with sickness. 4 1 See James T.C. Liu, op.cit. 29-31. 19 criticized a censor named Gao Ruona (M ^ f f i ) for supporting these injustices, was himself sent off to the county of Yiling ^ HE in Xiazhou j\] (present Yichang County, Hubei Province, near the lower reaches of the Yangtze River Gorges).4 2 Arriving in the tenth month of 1036, he had remained at Yiling for only a year and a half when the court transferred him to become magistrate of Qiande County %*L H H (present Guanghua County, Hubei Province) which he reached in late spring of 1038 4 3 Though during this first exile Ouyang composed several poems complaining at the backwardness of the Yiling region, he also showed fascination at the everyday life of its inhabitants and awe at the dramatic mountain scenery. In a poem sent to his friend Su Shunqin (M Pt- Ife 1008-1048), he declares:44 The Three Gorges tower sheer beside me, I'm sent off to the south 4 5 to a land of utter remoteness. The best time of year is certainly delightful, 4 But thoughts of home leave me lonely and at a loss. The River waters flow past verdant cliffs, Gibbon howls emerge from emerald clouds. Summer shoots of wild bamboo burst through, 8 Clumps of oranges extend spring branches. Before midwinter, apricots are first to bloom, 4 2 Ji vol.1, nianpu 1.5. And for Y u Jing and Yin Shu, see Liu, op.cit. 32-34, and Xuanji 430. 4 3 Ji vol. 1, nianpu 1.5-6. 4 4 Title translates: "On First Arriving at Yiling: Answering Su Zimei's Kind Letter." Zimei H was Su Shunqin's style name.Original text in Ji vol.1, 2.71, dated 1036. For translations of similar poems from Ouyang's Yiling exile, see my chapter 2 below; also Yoshikawa 66, and a partially translated poem in Egan 113. 4 5 1 use the variant "south," instead of "together" (jtong |W]) which makes little sense here. Su Shunqin was not exiled until the mid-1040s. 20 And through the frost, the foliage never withers.46 River clouds gloomily obscure the sun, 12 Mountain mists bring darkness, morning after morning. Chopping in the valleys, they struggle to harvest lacquer, Scaling up to the forests, they battle to pick peppers. From Ba and Cong the boating merchants gather, 16 In Man markets, wineshop banners beckon 4 7 The seasons and festivals are the same as Jing customs, But popular airs add the rhymes of Chu 4 8 Their slang ditties are cause for teasing and merriment, 20 And "wiping away ghosts," they gather in noise and clamour.49 Accused of a crime, it's right that I flee abroad, Full of shame, I deserve to bow down. But passing time urges on the years of my prime, 24 Fallen and captive, I'm ashamed that the wind startles me. My white hair appears along with the New Year, My ruddy face pales in an alien region. From County Halls in the morning I face tigers, 4 6 The preceding 4 lines follow the year through almost a complete cycle. 4 7 Ba and Cong were regions west of Xiazhou, in present Sichuan Province. Man I f refers to the Man people, indigenous inhabitants of the central Yangtze valley, regarded as barbarians by the ruling Han race of the Song. 4 8 Jing[zhou] was the region beside Xiazhou, on the southern banks of the Yangtze River. Chu $t was an ancient kingdom whose domain included much of south central China before the Qin dynasty unification (221 BC). Ouyang uses the term to refer to the indigenous people of Xiazhou and their customs, which differ from those Han people in Jingzhou. 4 9 In a note to this line, Ouyang explains that wiping away ghosts (ca gui H was one of many "wild" customs of Yiling locals; whenever they celebrated one of their numerous offerings to gods, they would prepare enormous amounts of food, and gather in the hundreds for an offering feast to "wipe away the ghosts." 21 28 In the Official Lodge at night I hear owls. There are no autumn geese to dispatch a letter, Longing to return home, I gaze at the Dipper Handle. 5 0 If you must know my dreams of a thousand miles, 32 They constantly circle over the Luo River bridge! Also during this exile period, Ouyang was married for the third time in 1037 to the daughter of one Xue Kui (jf^  H 967-1034), and this wife actually outlived Ouyang, bearing him eight sons and three daughters. Ouyang's third wife was eleven years his junior, literate, composed poems, and was a devout Buddhist, despite her husband's occasional published criticisms of the religion. She also played the se M, a kind of plucked stringed instrument similar to the zither.51 In spring of 1040, after a leave period during the winter visiting Mei Yaochen in his new posting at Xiangcheng, and seeing Xie Jiang there just before his death, Ouyang received a further transfer to Huazhou Wf ^ 11 (present Hua County, Henan Province).5 2 However, the political climate was changing: Fan Zhongyan was sent to Shaanxi to deal with an invasion by the north-western Xixia H J t kingdom in late 1039, and in spring of 1040 he invited Ouyang to act as chief secretary in his entourage.53 Ouyang declined, 5 0 Name of a constellation including the northern Pole Star, used to indicate Ouyang's wish to return north to Luoyang. Geese, in the previous line, were used in ancient times to carry messages on their migratory flights north and south. 5 1 For Ouyang's third wife, see her grave inscription by Su Zhe in Gao Xiufang and Chen Hongtian, ed., Luanchengji (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1990) voX.lJucm 25, 418-420. According to this account, she died in 1089, seventeen years after Ouyang. Four of their eight sons died as children, and all three daughters died before getting married. Her father, Xue Kui, had been premier under Emperor Renzong, but died before his daughter's marriage, leaving his wife to arrange the match (ibid. 418). See also Liu Ruoyu, op.cit. 17-18. 5 2 Ji vol.1, nianpu 1.6. Ouyang had visited Xie the previous summer too at Dengzhou §P when Mei was also present (ibid.) 5 3 Fan Zhongyan was particularly strident in opposing the Song policy of rapprochement with the neighbouring "barbarian" kingdoms, most notably the Xixia people in the north-22 apparently hoping to avoid charges of opportunism, since opponents already accused him of taking part in Fan's clique.5 4 His scruples were soon rewarded when he was recalled to Kaifeng that summer, and finally resumed work on the Imperial Archives catalogue.55 Emperor Renzong was by now eager to test the efficacy of Fan Zhongyan's reform approach. In mid-1042 he decreed that officials should offer up advice on government policies. Ouyang Xiu composed a memorial dealing with "three abuses" and "five matters" — basically attacking corruption in the Fan Zhongyan manner.56 When his advice was ignored, Ouyang requested a provincial post, and once again received the magistracy of Huazhou in the ninth month.5 7 However, his stay there was very short. Though in 1042 the Song court had staved off the threat from the Qidan in the north by means of another peace treaty and increased indemnity, continued attacks by the Xixia further west, coupled with popular riots to the east and west of Kaifeng, destabilized the political situation. As a result, Grand Councillor Lu Yijian resigned in early summer of 1043, and Emperor Renzong gave the reformers a chance to act. Not only did he employ in the central government more censors of a reforming inclination, including Ouyang Xiu, he also invited Fan Zhongyan to become Vice Grand Councillor. 5 8 With the support of Fu B i (Hf ^ west. Since 1004 the Song government had paid a considerable indemnity of silk and silver to another group, the northern Qidan M ft (sometimes transliterated as Khitan), in order to guarantee peaceful relations. Now that the Xixia were beginning to encroach on Song territory, Fan was anxious that the government adopt a firmer stance towards them. In 1040, he gained his opportunity. 5 4 Ibid. See also James T.C. Liu, op.cit. 35-36, who deals with this episode in detail. According to Liu, Ouyang declined the position because he did not wish to be merely a secretary! Ouyang's letter to Fan Zhongyan declining the post explains that he dislikes writing in parallel prose, which was the main function of a secretary (Ji vol.1, 6.1-2); but in a letter to Mei Yaochen he declares that the position was beneath him (Ji vol.3, 17.38). 5 5 Ji vol.1, nianpu 1.6. The catalogue, the Chongwen zongmu, was completed that same year, and Ouyang was promoted again. 5 6 This was the "Memorial Discussing Matters Offered in Response to a Decree," Ji vol. 1, 5.87-95. 5 7 Ji vol. 1, nianpu 1.7. 5 8 Or more literally, "participant in determining government affairs" (canzhi zhengshi # % S - ) , one of the highest government positions. 23 1004-1083) and Han Qi $ f ^ 1008-1075), two more "veteran" reformers, Fan set in motion the famous Qingli Reforms with a ten-point plan to refine the examination system and clean up the political environment.59 However, after little more than a year, the movement lost its momentum, amid accusations of cliquism and lack of any tangible change among official hierarchies. First, a group of Fan's supporters were exiled in late 1044 for improper behaviour at a party, including Ouyang's close friend and fellow-poet Su Shunqin;60 then, in spring of 1045, Fan Zhongyan and all the other reform leaders resigned and were likewise exiled. The previous summer, Ouyang had already been sent on two fact-finding tours: to Hedong, then under threat from the Qidan, and to Hebei. At the time of Fan's resignation, he had just replaced one Tian Kuang as stand-in governor of Zhending subprefecture.61 Ouyang's reaction to the situation is clear in a poem he sent to his third wife, which gives a candid account of the effects of these political troubles on his family, and incidentally reveals his deep affection for his wife: Dappled, Dappled, Turtledoves in the Forest: Sent to My Wife [1045].6 2 5 9 For the Qingli Reforms, see James T.C. Liu's analysis in op.cit. 40-51. He claims that negotiations for peace with the Xixia, averting the crisis on the border, along with the arrogance and inflexibility of the reformers towards dissenting voices, hastened their decline. 6 0 See ibid. 49-50; also Su Shunqin's prose account, "Green Waves Pavilion," for description of his banishment to Suzhou, and Ouyang's answering poem of the same title (both translated below, chapter 4). 6 1 Ji vol.1, nianpu 1.8-9. James T.C. Liu sees these various postings outside the capital as signs that Emperor Renzong was uneasy with the reform movement. Fan and Fu Bi were also dispatched on border missions during 1044 (op.cit. 47). 6 2 Ji vol.1, 1.17-18. Also mXuanji 93-96. Zhending subprefecture M j£f (present Hebei Province, around Zhengding County IE H ) was also known as Zhenyang K |#, as in line 33 of this poem. Ouyang's other poems written in Zhending display a similar sense of frustration with political life, and inner conflict about whether to retire or fight his opponents. See J i vol.1, 1.17, 18, 19-20 24 Dappled, dappled, turtledoves in the forest, 'Gw, gu,' one calls to its mate: "I'm making the most of the dry weather 4 To avoid being parted from you." 6 3 The spring plain, washed by rain, brightens, Green leaves, in early morning sun, cast shadows. The sounds of their calls echo in harmony, 8 Responding and answering like the tuning of pipes. They perch deep in the soft mulberry's warmth, Then descend to peck at the fruits of high fields. People all laugh that you are so clumsy, 12 Lacking a nest in which to make your home. But your easy contentment stems from few desires, And I envy the freedom that your clumsiness brings! Though I do possess a house and home, 161 never have a constant place of employment. I once scuttled off to the Man of Jing, exiled, 6 4 They forced me to flee as if lashing a whip. Among mountains and streams, miasmal fog was dense, 20 In rivers and seas, the gales blew the waves. Constantly beside me, you shared it all, 6 3 Traditionally, the turtledove (jiu was supposed to drive away its mate in rainy weather, and call her back in clear weather; hence the bird is often used as a symbol for marital tension. See two interesting poems by Ouyang on this topic, using the turtledove, in Ji vol.1, 2.37-38, dated 1059. Later in the present poem, we find that Ouyang is away from his wife, due to his provincial posting, hence he envies the turtledove, which at least comes together with its mate in dry weather. The turtledove was also known for not building a nest: Ouyang turns this fault into a virtue as well in lines 11-16. 6 4 See notes 47 and 48 above. 25 Through demotion and loss, we disappeared together.65 Yet escaping with our lives, we were out of peoples' sight, 24 Already exiled, who could envy us now? Amidst alpine flowers and wild grasses, I grew drunk, and you sounded your zither. We knew only contentment in poverty and baseness, 28 And paid no heed to the racing months and years. Returning to the court these last few years, M y official income was showered upon children and nephews. With exalted position came greater responsibility, 32 Such a small vessel, I'm afraid, often overflows!66 Now this year I have come to Zhenyang, I am forced to stay here and see the spring plants. The Northern Pool overflows with fresh water, 36 Fish and birds make a tumultuous sound. But my mind cannot fix itself on the spring, And vainly I sigh to myself about my worries. A single official post is really quick to finish, 40 And when can I finally repay the country? In the high hall, my mother is aging now, Her remaining hair is too sparse to bother combing. And yesterday, you sent a letter to say:6 7 44 With the coming of spring her old sickness returned. Though you work hard to give her food and medicine, 6 5 Actually, Ouyang was already in Yiling when he married this wife (noted in Xuanji 94-95, note 3). 6 6 Ouyang suggests that his talents are not up to the job. 6 7 It seems that Ouyang's family were unable to join him in Zhenyang. 26 How can it compare with having me by her side? You also write that you too are sick, 48 And can't even manage to fix your messy hair. When a letter comes, it's supposed to console, Instead it just agitates my worry and gloom . . . 61 . . . In recent days, I read the official appointments: The Imperial Court has replaced the Grand Councillor. 6 8 His Gracious Lordship is concerned for great ministers, 64 Advancing and retiring them according to proper procedure; But petty people recklessly follow suit, With edicts and memorials, they compete to wield their brushes. I also hear that they're speaking of "cliques and parties," 68 And in succession, they propose their lists of names.69 But as for me, would I dare to flee, Much better be the first to accuse myself! Above, I rely oh the Son of Heaven's sageliness, 72 That he won't have to treat me as a capital offender. I only need to be sent into exile, For hordes of mouths to cease their endless chatter . . . . . . I'll regain my nature as a wild bird, 80 And escape the cage with its shock and terror. 6 8 Referring to Fan Zhongyan's demotion. 6 9 Fan Zhongyan had been accused of organizing a clique, or faction (dang M) in an attempt to wrest control from the Emperor. Ouyang wrote an essay defending Fan against the charge. See James T.C. Liu, op.cit. 48-49, 52-64, for an excellent discussion of the problem of factionalism in the 1040s. 27 I don't care what intention you have in mind, My plans are already firmly fixed! You can appreciate ferns and vetch, 84 I'll be happy to remove hatpin and sash.70 The thirty six peaks of Mount Song, Grey and azure, will rise up loftily.7 1 How can we get to leave hand in hand, 88 To plough fields, and grow old in a mean thatched hut? As Chen Xin and Du Weimo point out, despite Ouyang's claims that he would voluntarily retire from office, he could not resist speaking out against the demotions of Fan Zhongyan and his colleagues, an action which certainly increased the wrath of his opponents.72 Having thus expressed his indignation in a memorial, Ouyang was accused of sexual impropriety with the daughter of his widowed sister. Though the courts cleared him of the charge, they still recommended his exile to Chuzhou $ | jW (present Chu County, Anhui Province), and Ouyang took up the position of governor there in the tenth month of 1045 7 3 7 0 "Ferns and vetch" refers to a poor person's diet; removing "hatpin and sash" indicates retirement from office. 7 1 Mount Song, near Luoyang, like many of China's great mountains, was often used as a place for living in reclusion. On his trip there in 1032, Ouyang encountered a recluse living in a cave high among the peaks. See description by Xie Jiang, included at the back of Ouyang's collection {Ji vol.3, 18.72-74). Ouyang composed a poem to this recluse late in his life: see chapter 2 below for translation. 1 2 See Xuanji 96, n.10. 7 3 Details in Ji vol. 1, nianpu 1.9. His "Memorial Discussing the Matter of Du Yan and Fan Zhongyan Being Removed from Office" is in Ji vol.2, 12.102-106; also annotated in Xuanji 381-387. 28 Before continuing with the account of Ouyang's life, I will examine these charges of sexual misconduct in a little more detail, since later in his career he was to face similar accusations. Was there any basis for such slurs on his personal conduct? Certainly while a young official in Luoyang, Ouyang gained a reputation for enjoying life to the hilt, and apparently engaged in a rather public affair with a well-known courtesan.74 He himself admitted that before he reached thirty he "enjoyed and considered highly luxury and culture, loved wine and singing songs; [he] knew to consider them pleasurable, but didn't know what was wrong with them."7 5 By traditional Chinese reckoning, Ouyang would have reached thirty soon after he left Luoyang, 7 6 and it is possible that the premature deaths of his first two wives, coupled with the less congenial, faction-ridden environment of Kaifeng, forced on him a more responsible attitude to life. As he notes in the same letter just quoted, written in 1039: "Afterwards [i.e. after reaching thirty] when I became a little more familiar with the Way of the Sages, and regretted my past errors, they were already spread about and I could not pursue them . . . I can only make an effort to do good in order to compensate for the past."77 Unfortunately, the notoriety of his earlier amorous adventures counted against him in the 1040s. I mentioned before that Ouyang's younger sister, after being widowed in 1035, moved back to live with their mother in Ouyang's house. Ouyang relates what then transpired in a memorial defending his character, written in Chuzhou: 7 8 [My younger sister] lost her husband and had no means of support, so bringing her orphaned daughter, she came back home. At that time, 7 4 As noted by James T C . Liu, op.cit. 29. 7 5 J/vol.2, 8.67. 7 6 He left Luoyang in 1034. Born in 1007, his thirtieth Chinese year would have been 1036. 7 7 Ibid. It is significant that Ouyang wrote this letter long before he was charged with sexual misconduct, so it cannot be interpreted as a reaction to those charges. 7 8 J / vol.2, 10.102-103. 29 Miss Zhang [the daughter] was only seven years old. I'm ashamed that I don't have any understanding of divination or predicting the future, and I could not foresee what she would do when she grew older. But since it would have been inhumane to abandon her by the wayside, my sister therefore raised her in her own apartments. After explaining how Miss Zhang seemed impatient to be married off, but hadn't yet reached marrying age, Ouyang continues: "Soon I allowed her to be given in marriage, but five or six years after her wedding, when we were separated by several thousand //', her character unfortunately became rotten!"79 Another account by one Wang Zhi fills in the details:80 [Miss Zhang] married [Ouyang's] nephew Sheng. When Sheng finished his posting at Qianzhou, they travelled together with a servant Chen Jian, and Zhang had a sexual liaison with Jian. 8 1 When the affair was discovered, they were detained at the constabulary of the Right Military Barracks in Kaifeng. Zhang was terrified at her crime, and hoping to exonerate herself, everything she said implicated [Ouyang Xiu]. And in 7 9 Ibid. A //' M is a distance measurement equivalent to about a third of a mile. 8 0 Original text in Wang Zhi, Mo ji [with the Gui 'er ji by Zhang Duanyi, and the Yanyi yimou lu by Wang Yong] (Taibei 1982) 39-40. Also quoted in Ding Chuanjing, ed., Song renyishi huibian (Shanghai: Shangwu 1935; 1958 repr.) vol.1, 346-347. 8 1 Another source is even more lurid: one day, the husband Sheng attended a banquet along the route, and returning, "he couldn't find their boat. When he reached the capital he captured them. The matter was investigated by the Kaifeng government: the oarsman [possibly the same Chen Jian?] had engaged in a sexual liaison with Sheng's concubine, and when Sheng's wife [Zhang] discovered it, she was about to whip them. Instead, she was led astray by the concubine, and they both had sexual intercourse with the oarsman together!" From Zhao Kui, Xingyingzalu, quoted in Songrenyishi huibian, op.cit. 346, textual note. 30 describing what had occurred before she was married, she said many ugly and astounding things. When the matter was investigated further, the niece's accusations were found to be completely groundless. Ouyang's reputation was severely damaged, however, and his enemies were able to have him exiled on a charge of illegally appropriating his niece's dowry to pay for some land. 8 2 Though it was Ouyang's support for Fan Zhongyan's reform program that caused his downfall, and the rather dissolute lifestyle of his Luoyang days which made his enemies' accusations plausible, there is a further crucial factor that explains the extremely violent and personal nature of their attacks on Ouyang in particular. His son's biographical record notes several times that Ouyang's character was very direct and straightforward: "If he knew something [was wrong], he would never remain silent."83 As a censor, responsible for reporting official incompetence and misbehaviour, Ouyang wrote a series of extremely critical memorials, including some directed at the most powerful government ministers. For example, after Premier Lu Yijian resigned in 1043, Ouyang sent up a memorial requesting not only that the Emperor refuse to employ Lu in such a prestigious post again, but also that none of Lii 's family be given positions in the central government.84 He declares that when LU was in power, he "acted as a tyrant both within the Court and outside; everyone feared him, but no-one dared censure him. So when he became ill, the whole Empire rejoiced together that a treacherous and evil person, so difficult to remove, had for now been deposed by Heaven."8 5 After suggesting ways in which the Emperor can ensure that Lu is not reappointed, Ouyang continues: "I also 8 2 Ibid. 347. Also in James T C . Liu, op.cit. 66. 8 3 This quotation occurs twice, in Ji vol.3, 18.61, line 8; and 18.66, line 4. Other similar remarks on Ouyang's directness appear on 18.56; 18.64 and 18.69. 8 4 Ji vol.2, 12.37, composed in 1043. 8 5 Ibid. 31 worry that he will still seek your gracious favours for his sons and younger brothers . . . And since now in our border regions we face so many problems, and those officials who worked so hard outside have never been granted accelerated promotion, how can such a treacherous, evil and hugely venomous family, with its block-headed sons and younger brothers greedy for bribes, be granted endless favours?"86 Although by this time Lu had already retired — and as James T.C. Liu notes, Ouyang was successful in preventing Lu from gaining the Emperor's ear after retiring — Ouyang's caustic and personal attacks on him and several other government officials doubtless provoked their enmity. They would surely have reacted with barely disguised glee when his niece implicated Ouyang in her sordid affairs.87 Of course, another side of Ouyang's character not represented fairly in his memorials about corrupt government officials, but very clear in those describing unrest around the capital, is his compassion for the suffering of ordinary people. Sent on inspection trips through Hedong and Hebei in the early 1040s, he saw firsthand the results of official corruption and incompetence, namely, people dying of starvation or forced into banditry in order to survive. A representative example of his concern is the pair of memorials from the winter of 1043-44 written after heavy snow, in which he requests the 8 6 Ibid. 12.38. 8 7 The sources do not make it clear whether niece Zhang's charges were spontaneous, or were perhaps suggested as a kind of "plea bargain" by her investigators. Other victims of Ouyang's censures included one of the top military officials, Wang Juzheng: Ouyang calls for his replacement by Fan Zhongyan, declaring: "Wang Juzheng is the epitome of incompetence. He has been in a key post for such a long time, but he is weak and timid and doesn't understand his business. Since he keeps his mouth closed and makes no constructive suggestions, it would be best to discharge him . . ." (Ji vol.2, 12.14-15). Another memorial accuses two lesser officials of corruption and wickedness, recommending their exile (ibid. 12.17-18). Further examples are given by Wang Zhi in his Mo ji, op.cit. 39. Ouyang himself was aware of the fury that he had provoked: see the beginning of his defence in Ji vol.2, 11.6. 32 Court to distribute food and supplies of firewood and charcoal to the poor around Kaifeng, since already many people have frozen to death.88 Ouyang's anger with greedy and corrupt officials, so evident during the first half of his career, thus had a definite and justified cause. Yet his sharp and direct approach proved counter-productive, resulting in his disgrace and exile to Chuzhou, a place where he had little chance to criticize those with greatest influence.89 From this point on, the second half of Ouyang's life followed a similar pattern to the first — rising from provincial beginnings to central government posts — though this time reaching a rather higher level. He completed his term at Chuzhou in 1048, following which he was given briefer postings as governor of Yangzhou ;H Yingzhou ($K '}[\ 1049)90 Yingtianfu (M Z^C irif 1050-1052), the latter encompassing the city of Nanjing (present Shangqiu, Henan Province).9 1 He spent much time visiting the various mountains, lakes and historical sites around these places, and was responsible for constructing several pavilions at scenic viewpoints, for instance the Drunken Old Man Pavilion (f£ H ^ Zuiweng ting) in the Langya Mountains of Chuzhou, whose name echoed the sobriquet (Zuiweng y®) which he adopted there, and the Hall of Plains and Mountains ( ^ LLj ^ Pingshan tang) in Yangzhou, among others.92 8 8 Ji vol.2, 12.64-65. Another example calls for aid to the Jianghuai region following a serious drought (ibid. 12.70-71). 8 9 James T.C. Liu also remarks that some other members of Fan Zhongyan's reform faction acted as corruptly as those they criticized, thereby tarnishing the reputation of the whole group (op.cit. 48). 9 0 Yangzhou was a famous cultural and trading metropolis in present Jiangsu Province; Yingzhou had its provincial capital in present Quyang County, Anhui. 9 1 Ji vol. 1, nianpu 1.9-11. 9 2 He adopted the sobriquet in 1046, his fortieth year by traditional Chinese reckoning (ibid. 1.9). See his prose records on the Drunken Old Man Pavilion, and another building constructed in Chuzhou, the Pavilion of Abundant Joys, in Ji vol. 1, 5.35-37. His son notes that the former record, along with a "Record on the Eastern Garden of Zhenzhou," dated 1051 (original text in ibid. 5.40-41), were especially praised for their style, which was "unprecedented" (ibid, vol.3, 18.58). Cf. English translations of the former two pieces in 33 The prose and poetic commemorations that Ouyang composed during his exile and subsequent provincial postings reveal a more relaxed, accomplished and witty style than that of the previous two decades. It appears that now he not only recognized the patience and determination necessary to achieve any lasting change in the society around him, but also began to discover greater satisfaction in his personal interests — appreciating natural beauty, drinking wine with friends, and reading and writing as means of spiritual sustenance. Two poems comparing West Lake, a well-known scenic spot in Yangzhou, with its namesake in Yingzhou give a taste of his life of relative leisure in the provinces: Answering Grand Tutor Magistrate Lu [1049].93 A thousand acres of lotus stems cover the water evenly,94 The Governor of Yangzhou in past days viewed them with much affection. Patterned pots were placed all around; their glowing blossoms mingled, 4 Red sleeves passed them about, and the drinking game proceeded.95 Dancing before the setting sun, I urged drunken guests to linger, When music lagged, the sandalwood clappers took up a fresh rhythm.96 Egan 214-215, 215-217.1 deal with some of Ouyang's poems celebrating Chuzhou sights in chapter 2 below; Egan translates several others from Chuzhou: ibid. 85, 86-87, 88-89, 101-102, 119. 9 3 Ji vol.1, 2.81. Also in Xuanji 124-125. According to a note under the title of this poem in the contents pages of Ji, Magistrate LU, interestingly enough, was Lu Gongzhu, the son of former Premier Lu Yijian, whose whole family Ouyang had roundly criticized a few years earlier (Ji, vol.1, mulu 1.13). During this period, Ouyang exchanged several apparently very cordial poems with Lu junior, who was his colleague at Yangzhou! 9 4 An original note to this line states: "On Shaobo [Lake] the lotuses extend in all directions as far as the eye can see." Shaobo Lake was North-East of present Jiangdu County, Jiangsu Province, near Yangzhou. 9 5 Original note: "I once picked a thousand stems of lotuses, and planted them in patterned pots, arranging them around the seats. I also told the seated guests to pass round the flowers, each plucking one petal; the one who plucked the last petal had to drink wine. This we used as a drinking game." 34 But now, left in loneliness on [Yangzhou's] West Lake, 8 After the rain, no-one remains to see your fallen blossoms. This poem remembers the hedonistic delights of a party on Yangzhou's West Lake, now that Ouyang has moved away to Yingzhou, personifying the abandoned, lonely lotuses in the final couplet. In the following work, of the same year, he celebrates the fact that he has discovered an equally fine haunt at Yingzhou's West Lake: On West Lake, Written in Jest, Shown to Fellow Excursionists [1049].9 7 The fragrance of lotus blossoms is pure; the painted pleasure-boat drifts, Surely the Governor cannot still have Yangzhou on his mind? He's merely taken the "moonlight shining over the Twenty Four Bridges," 4 And in return received "West Lake's ten acres of autumn!"98 As the second of these poems makes clear, Ouyang was much taken with the surroundings of Yingzhou, and in 1050 he revealed to Mei Yaochen his plans to buy land there as a suitable place for retirement.99 In fact, in early summer of 1052, during his term at Nanjing, Ouyang's mother Madame Zheng died, and he spent most of the three-year 9 6 "Sandalwood clappers": a kind of rhythm instrument. 9 7 Ji vol.1, 2.84. Also in Xuanji 125-126. An original note to the title states: "One version has 'First Floating Out on West Lake.'" 9 8 Yangzhou was famous for twenty four scenic bridges around the city. Ouyang cleverly implies that he has replaced a typical scene of Yangzhou celebrated by literati with an equally fine scene from Yingzhou. 9 9 Ji vol. 1, nianpu 1.11. Many other poems sing the praises of Yingzhou's serene natural beauty. There are thirteen lyrics (ci |RI) entitled Cai Sangzi Jjl with a preface explaining that they describe Yingzhou's West Lake, in Ji vol.3, 15.4-7. See also another regulated verse, "Floating On a Boat at West Lake . . . " in Ji vol.2, 7.23; also in Xuanji 126-127. 35 mourning period back in Yingzhou, apart from a trip to the family grave at Longgang f | |5f] in Jizhou pif (present Ji'an County, Jiangsu Province) to bury his mother beside his two former wives. 1 0 0 As I suggested earlier, Ouyang highly respected his mother, and her decline and death seem to have shocked him greatly, jarring him into a realization of his own aging and inevitable mortality. Such a personal motive may explain the rather sombre tone of several of his poems from the early 1050s. At this time, his poetry often expresses resentment at the renewal of nature in spring, which contrasts so cruelly with his own frequent illnesses and graying hair. For instance, his poem "Rhapsody: Moved by the Spring," 1 0 1 of 1050, contains the lines: The turtledove calls — on the roof top, The sparrows twitter noisily — in among the eaves. The hundred birds are moved by Spring warmth, 4 As if something stirs in their inner mechanism. Male and female echo each other in harmony, Al l day their cacophony allows me no rest! As for the two trees beneath the terrace, 8 Who would select their withered branches? But the Spring breeze arrives in the course of one night, And their blossoms and leaves become oh so dappled. Thus do I know that Heaven's cunning steals our human strength, 12 And is able to cause withered trees to grow young rosy faces! Why is it that people, the most vital of ten thousand creatures, 1 0 0 Ibid. 1.12. 1 0 1 In Ji vol.1, 2.15-16. An original note to the title adds: "Matching Lu Gongzhu" (see also note 93 above). 36 Cannot compare with plants and trees, or birds that soar on the wing? Ever since the Spring arrived, what have I been feeling? 16 Only wonder that, fast asleep, I'm unaware of the white sun rising high over Southern Mountains, And meeting the hundred flowers as I walk, my eyes are not attracted! . . . In fact, between 1052 and 1054, Ouyang apparently composed no poems at a l l . 1 0 2 During these years, he did complete a New History of the Five Dynasties, which must have taken up much of his time and energy.1 0 3 Yet there is some evidence that he underwent a creative block with regard to poetry. In 1049, he had taken on two private students, Jiao Qianzhi & and X u Wudang ^  %. M, and in a couple of poems of that year he showered praise on their talents, claiming that they could now take over from an aging fellow like himself.1 0 4 When he finally resumed his poetic writing in 1054, one of his first works was to Xu Wudang, 1 0 5 and concludes with the lines: "Alas! My brush and inkstone have been blocked for such a long time:/I'm grateful that you inspired me to set 1 0 2 The majority of poems in the Jushi ji /i? dr H section of Ouyang's collection (i.e. those available to him at the end of his life, which he chose to retain for posterity) are dated. However, none date from 1052 or 1053. Likewise with the Waiji #h M (those poems collected after Ouyang's death), though fewer of these works are dated. As far as I can see, no other year after 1031, when Ouyang's first serious poetry was written, lacks dated poems. 1 0 3 For Ouyang's History see James T.C. Liu 34, 107-112. For an admiring comment on its concise style, modelled on the ancient "Spring and Autumn Annals," cf. Ouyang Fa in Ji vol.3, 18.58, lines 9-11. 1 0 4 These poems are very vivid portraits of the teacher-student relationship. See Ji vol. 1, 2.8 and 2.8-9. According to James T.C. Liu, Ouyang attributed the commentaries in the New History of the Five Dynasties to Xu Wudang, proving his high opinion of this student (Liu, op.cit. 110). Yet it is probable that Ouyang actually wrote them himself (ibid.) For the suggestion that Xu had been Ouyang's informal student since the early 1040s, cf. my chapter 3 below, n.55. 1 0 5 In.//, vol.1, 2.16-17. 37 down some stanzas and phrases."106 In later chapters, I will suggest the way in which Ouyang overcame this creative block and produced some of his most imaginative poems in the second half of the 1050s. In 1054, the mourning period completed, Ouyang returned to the capital. After an interview with Emperor Renzong, who was shocked at his white hair after nine years away from the capital, he received a central government post, helping to compile a revised version of the official history of the Tang Dynasty — begun by Song Qi (998-1061) in 1049, and now known as the New Tang History ( 0f J|f ^ Xin Tangshu).107 Thus began a period of almost twenty years in which Ouyang steadily rose through the hierarchy, this time weathering virtually all the intrigues and machinations which his political opponents could muster. His first test came in the winter of the following year (1055-1056) when he was sent on a mission north to the Qidan kingdom. 1 0 8 Though his discomfort at the physically taxing journey is clear in his writings of the time, the mission did at least inspire another side of Ouyang's poetic muse. He recorded his often dreamlike impressions in several works, including the following two: Crossing the Border: Second of Two Poems [1055] 1 0 9 1 0 6 die wu hi yan jiu yi ge, gan ji zhang ju yin zi xing i l ^ B f , ^ HI -f ft. I use the variant reading zhang ju ("stanzas and phrases") for duan zhang 0ft ("short phrases"): see ibid., final line of poem. 1 0 7 For the Emperor's shock, see Fa's account in Ji vol.3, 18.65; also in James T.C. Liu, op.cit. 68. Ouyang's opponents even attempted to block this central government appointment: see Ji vol.1, nianpu 1.12. 1 0 8 Ji vol. 1, nianpu 1.13. 1 0 9 In Ji vol.2, 7.24. This poem is given the date 1054 in the contents pages of Ji. However, a note under the title of the poem on p.7.24 (in the Waiji) states: "One of these [two] poems has already appeared in Jushiji [i.e. the other part of Ouyang's collection, whose dating is much more consistent]." The text of this other poem is not given in the Waiji. Examining the poems on Ouyang's mission in the Jushiji, we find a quatrain entitled "On a Mission to the Qidan, First Reaching Xiongzhou." A note to this title states: "One version has 'Crossing the Border.'" This must be the other poem referred to above. 38 Though I am driving Han horses, they tread on foreign frost, I constantly sigh that this troublesome life is giving me nothing but pain. As the weather becomes still colder, I journey still further north, 4 I'm not as wise as migrating geese, who know to head for the south! 1 1 0 The second poem is a longer work recording Ouyang's meeting with his friend Liu Chang f!j jSjfc (1019-1068, style name Yuanfu M. 3c), who was just returning from a slightly earlier mission: On the Road During My Mission to the Qidan, I Answer the Composition 'Sanggan River' Given to Me by Liu Yuanfu [1055]. 1 1 1 I recall before, when we first received our orders, Together we came down from the Violet Imperial Court. I asked you where you were about to go, 4 Laughing, you pointed to the Handle of the Dipper! We both assumed that after a short stay there, In spring breezes we'd meet for the journey home. It is dated 1055, which fits the year of Ouyang's mission as recorded in his chronology (see.// vol.1, nianpu 1.13 which states that Ouyang started his mission in the 8th. month of the 2nd year of the Zhihe reign period [i.e. around September 1055], and returned to the Song capital in the 2nd month of the 1st year of the Jiayou reign period [i.e. around March 1056] ). Hence, I feel the dating of "Crossing the Border" should be amended to 1055. 1 1 0 Literally "know to follow the yang force," yang being the cosmic force producing warmth, as opposed to yin which produces cold. For more on the yin-yang cycles as related with the seasons, see the poems on snow translated in chapter 5 below. In this poem, Ouyang suggests that he is going against the natural tendency of all living creatures by venturing north in the winter. 1 1 1 Ji vol.1, 2.20-21. 39 But since we were responsible for different business, 8 The times of our departures were suddenly separated. The days and months then seemed to disappear, Across mountains and rivers, I soon realized the distance. Turning to look back, it was over three thousand //', 12 The fortified gates stood amid violet clouds. 1 1 2 I am old, and tired of saddles and horses, So how can I manage to chant any poems? Your talents are truly expansive and overflowing, 16 Your new lines float even better than before! Yesterday we met at the walls of L i i , Unstrapping our saddles, we rested on alpine foothills. Our servant boys were delighted to chat with each other, 20 And even the horses neighed with soulful tones. You took out your poem on Sanggan River, And gave it to me to console my loneliness. I also rejoiced that when I saw you before, 24 We arranged to meet and halt our travelling carriages. And although I know we cannot stay very long, Our smiles of joy will do for the present. On your return route, you'll tread on ice and snow, 28 But arriving back home, you can remove your fox furs. 1 1 3 Where you have been, I will presently go, I'll expect you to greet me with wine in the spring! 1 1 2 Ouyang seems to be imagining the gates of the Song capital in the distance. Violet an auspicious colour often associated with the Imperial Court. 1 1 3 Literally, "marten and fox," whose pelts were used to make heavy winter coats. 40 A brief meeting with a friend becomes a particularly moving event when it occurs during a journey through the terribly barren, wintry northern wilderness. After Ouyang's return from the North, he soon provoked controversy once more, this time due to his treatment of candidates in the 1057 Ministry of Rites examination to select Presented Scholar (M ± jinshi) degree holders, for which he acted as chief examiner. He failed all those candidates who used an ornate parallel prose style (@f f t 'JC pian ti wen) — the highly stylized traditional literary style required for virtually all previous examinations, sometimes known in the Song as Current Prose ~X. shi wen) — as well as those who preferred the contrived and opaque eccentricity of the so-called Unorthodox Style (J| ft bian ti), which developed during the 1030s and 1040s. 1 1 4 Among those who, by virtue of their "simple, flowing sentences," passed the examinations, were the brothers Su Shi (Jjc f£ 1037-1101) and Su Zhe (M ft 1039-1112), and also Zeng Gong (H W 1019-1083), all of whom later joined Ouyang among the ranks of the Eight Prose Masters of the Tang and Song. 1 1 5 Through the events surrounding this examination, we can see in particularly clear relief several aspects of Ouyang's character which prove relevant to his approach to 1 1 4 For a clear explanation of these stylistic terms and their development during early Song, see Egan 12-26; and for the 1057 examination ibid. 27-8. For Ouyang Fa's comments on the exams, see Ji vol.3, 18.67, paragraph 4. Fa notes only that Ouyang failed those who used a "strange and eccentric" style. Xuanji 168, in the notes to a poem written by Ouyang during the exam, period, mentions the controversy following Ouyang's summary failure of several candidates expected to excel. Since Ouyang included a metaphor comparing the sound of brushes of students writing the exam, to "spring silkworms eating leaves," opponents accused him of despising the candidates by treating them like "silkworms and ants!" 1 1 5 Cf. Shih-shuen Liu's English translation of the traditional Chinese prose reader whose Chinese title is Tang-Song ba dajia (M A sit): Masters of Classical Chinese Prose (Hong Kong 1979). poetry. 41 Firstly, there is the whole question of writing style. As I have mentioned, since the early 1030s in Luoyang, Ouyang had turned his back on the obscurity and studied ornamentation of most early Song writers, embracing a clear and concise style known as Ancient Prose 3t gu wen). The 1057 examination was his opportunity to promulgate more widely his approach to prose writing. Fiis poetry, no less than his prose, was affected by this ideal, emphasizing a simple prose-like diction, and a broad approach to mood and subject matter inspired by the variety of experience which his life offered up. Previous scholars have remarked upon these features.116 Later, I will demonstrate the many techniques Ouyang perfected, involving especially wit and caricature, to compensate for the relative lack of compression and allusive density in his poetry. Secondly, Ouyang's refusal to stick to traditional parameters of examination grading, in which the whole exercise becomes a mechanical following of rules for both student and teacher alike, reveals indirectly his overwhelming enthusiasm for the joys and inspirations of reading and writing. Obviously, Ouyang's ability to distinguish such enthusiasm in others guided his selection of successful 1057 degree holders; and throughout his poetic oeuvre, he continually expresses the inspiration which he receives from books, and other writings like calligraphic inscriptions — especially those considered classic, or those of great antiquity.1 1 7 In his reading he sought the spark of life, the vitality at the centre of each work. Often, too, he ignored or refuted the distracting asides of the commentarial traditions when they obscured a clearer interpretation.118 To give just one 1 1 6 Especially Yoshikawa KojirS in op.cit. 69-70. Also Egan 83-84. 1 1 7 By the end of his life, he had amassed a collection of some 10,000 volumes of books, and 1000 ancient bronze and stone inscriptions; for the latter he produced a catalogue, the Jigu luM~fe ("Notes on Collecting Ancient [Artifacts]") to record their characteristics, included in Ji vol.3, 15.49-16.73. The information about his books first appears in Ouyang's mini-autobiography "Biography of Six Ones Recluse" (Liu-Yi Jushi zhuan 7\ — J§? ± f#) of 1070, in Ji vol.1, 5.78-79. Translated in Egan 223-224. 1 1 8 See James T.C. Liu, op.cit. 90, for Ouyang's method of reading the ancient canonical texts, and his disparaging comments on post-Han annotators. Liu's whole chapter on 42 example from his poetry, the composition "Book-Reading," partially quoted earlier, contains a vivid description of his approach to the Classics: 1 1 9 All my life, I have been a cold scholar, Old now, I still grasp books and scrolls. And though my sight has already worsened, 4 My will has not weakened in the slightest degree. The orthodox Classics began with "Tang and Y u , " But false theories rose up in Qin and Han . 1 2 0 Their essays and chapters made strange readings of phrases, 8 They explained in footnotes and glossed in commentaries. Right and wrong then attacked each other, To accept or discard required brave decision. From the first they resembled two armies clashing, 12 Seeking the advantage, they battled with all their might. With banners and drums urging them forward, They lost all awareness of sweating bodies and horses! How perfect, among all the joys under Heaven, 16 To spend the whole day beside one's study desk! . . . Whether or not one shares Ouyang's enthusiasm for the highly elliptical style of the Spring and Autumn Annals (Chunqiu # $C) and the l ike, 1 2 1 his search for the living Ouyang's classical studies (ibid. 85-99) gives an interesting account of his new interpretations. 1 1 9 Ji vol.1, 2.52-33. Also Xuanji 197. 1 2 0 Tang Hf and Y u |H, more commonly known as Yu-Shun J | were mythical ancient sage rulers mentioned as ideal Emperors in several of the ancient Chinese canonical texts. The Qin and Han dynasties lasted from 221-206 B C and 206 BC-220 A D respectively. Many commentaries on the canon were produced during this period. 43 heart of every work, and by extension, of every situation, is one which surely has relevance even today, and deeply affects his own attempts at writing. 1 2 2 Finally, there is the more general idea of change, of recognizing that each age has its unique character to which we must adapt if we are to avoid stagnation. As regards Ouyang's poetic style and formal invention, it is difficult to predict quite how he will deal with any subject: his poems often express widely varying moods in quick succession, or treat traditional emotive images in a novel way, using irregular metres and ingenious rhyme-schemes. Likewise, content is rarely fixed to a single theme, but tends to jump suddenly between the natural and human worlds, and is frequently spiced with unusual and witty metaphors. The period Ouyang spent locked within the Ministry of Rites, grading the examinations with several colleagues including Mei Yaochen, not only proved to have tremendous influence on subsequent prose style, but also resulted in a poetry collection consisting of works composed by these officials to entertain themselves, during the long evenings away from home. Ouyang's contributions to this collection constitute several of his most innovative and brilliantly entertaining poems. I deal with a number of them in detail below, especially in chapter 4. He also composed an important preface to the collection which justifies the kinds of poems he was writing during this period, to which I will return in my conclusion. Here I will simply note the broad correlation between Ouyang's behaviour as an official and his literary ideals. 1 2 1 Liu calls this Classic Ouyang's "favourite" (ibid. 93). I return to Ouyang's views on the ancient Classics and their possible relation to his poetic style in my conclusion (chapter 6 below). 1 2 2 Though as I mentioned earlier, Ouyang had at first studied only to "escape poverty," later in his life, and especially "after his middle years," he began to see the true pleasures of reading and writing. For instance, the poem "Book-reading" continues: "Now I understand that despite the effort of book-reading,/Its joys certainly cannot be measured/. . . . I realize that what lasts long is valuable,/And the highest treasures are refined a hundred times." Ji vol. 1, 2.52-53. 44 Returning to Ouyang's progression through the central government, the 250-volume juari) New Tang History, which he had been editing and completing since 1054 based on the work of Song Qi, was finally offered up to the throne in mid-1060. 1 2 3 True to his ideals, Ouyang had utilised a concise, but still free-flowing, "ancient prose" style, rather than the customary parallel prose, even altering the Tang documents and sources from which he quoted to fit his own aesthetic tastes.124 Though the Emperor wished to give him all the credit for the work, Ouyang insisted that Song Qi's substantial contribution be acknowledged, only allowing his own name to be attached to the annals, treatises, and chronological tables.1 2 5 Ouyang's son, Fa, in the biographical record of his father quotes Councillor Song Xiang (51? M) saying: "Ever since ancient times, scholars have liked to attack and undermine each other. Such an occurrence as this is completely unprecedented!"126 Ouyang's behaviour here was representative of his generous character, revealing his readiness to acknowledge the talents of others. Another well known example was his continual praise for the poetry of Su Shunqin and Mei Yaochen, neither of whom achieved such success as himself in their public careers, along with deprecating remarks about his own poetic skills. Yet, as his son declares, with perhaps some traces of bias: "Those who really understand [poetry] would doubtless say [Ouyang] surpasses [Mei] ." 1 2 7 1 2 3 Ji vol. 1, nianpu 1.16. 1 2 4 James T.C. Liu notes the controversy among succeeding historians as to the value of Ouyang's work, due especially to his alteration of the original documents. See op.cit. 100-113. 1 2 5 i.e. the Ji 12, Zhi M, and Biao Song Qi's name was attached to the biographies (Lie zhuan f$), by far the greater portion of the work. See Fa's comments in Ji vol.3, 18.59-60. 1 2 6 Ibid. 18.60. Song Xiang was the brother of Song Qi. 1 2 7 Ibid. 18.59. For praise of Su, see Ouyang's poem "Green Waves Pavilion," translated in chapter 4 below; and for both Mei and Su, cf. numerous remarks in my conclusion. 45 The year 1060 also saw Ouyang promoted to Vice Commissioner in the Bureau of Military Affairs, one of the highest military positions in the realm. 1 2 8 However, public success was accompanied by personal tragedy when Mei Yaochen died that same year. Ouyang composed a poem, "Weeping for Shengyu," in his memory, and edited Mei's collected poems. 1 2 9 Yet a work which Ouyang wrote before Mei's death is perhaps the most moving tribute to their friendship: Offered in Return for the Composition Twenty Fifth Elder Brother Shengyu Presented to Me, Matching His Rhymes [ 1059] 1 3 0 In becoming your friend and associating with you, I was the first among numerous people. When I was young, I endured much suffering, 4 And your family always put up with great poverty. Now we've become two decrepit old men, Our hair has grown white, and our faces are lined. I am concerned that the true jade in your heart, 8 Cannot compete with the false jade at the market.12 1 2 8 Ji vol. 1, nianpu 1.17. 1 2 9 For the poem, see Ji vol. 1, 2.48. Ouyang's preface to his collection of Mei's poetry is included in Ji vol. 1, 5.63-64. Though the date of this preface in the contents of Ouyang's collected works is 1046, he mentions that Mei has already died. The confusion seems to be in the fact that Ouyang produced his original preface for a collection of Mei's poetry in 1046; hence, he first states that Mei is "almost 50 years old" (ibid.5.63, penultimate line; Mei was born in 1002, so would have been 45 by Chinese reckoning). However, after Mei's death, Ouyang added a final paragraph to this preface (around 1061, since he notes that it is 15 years since the first collection), lamenting Mei's passing, and describing his further efforts to edit Mei's later poems (ibid. 5.64, lines 7-9). The editors of Ouyang's collection perhaps considered these later comments to be a postface, and didn't alter the date of the preface. 1 3 0 Ji vol.1, 2.44. Shengyu was Mei Yaochen's style name. 46 False jade, though base, is easily sold, But true jade is abandoned, long buried in the dust. Al l it can can do is produce fine designs:132 12 White rainbows shooting across starry constellations! Luckily we both reside within the capital, No sturdy walls force a distance between us. Finishing the morning audience, two or three fellows 16 Follow behind me, close as scales on a fish. As soon as you hear that we've come, you're delighted, Setting out wine, you keep us for a while. Without awaiting our host's invitation, 20 We've already removed the scarves on our heads.1 3 3 Though feelings of happiness are few and far between, Old now, our minds become even more intimate. What need to speak of success or poverty? 24 This pattern has stayed constant since ancient times.1 3 1 3 1 Ouyang seems to indicate himself when he mentions false jade, since he had attained great success in his career, whereas Mei, the true jade, lay "buried in the dust" (line 10). 1 3 2 "Designs," or "patterns" (wenzhang ~X. ^ ) of course also means "writings." The jade has a beautiful rainbow-like pattern (see the next line) comparable to the beauty of Mei's writings. 1 3 3 The guests don't bother with the usual polite formalities, since they are such close friends. 1 3 4 The "pattern" (//' S ) here refers to the reality that some remain poor throughout their lives, while others attain great success. The following year, in "Weeping for Shengyu," Ouyang declares that "fate" (ming ^fr) is perhaps a better word than "pattern:" "As for fate, it's incomprehensible, so do not look for a pattern/Though your fame and reputation are glorious, you were restricted to a backwater" (ibid, vol.1, 2.48). Here, however, he celebrates his friendship with Mei which has lasted and become even closer in spite of their contrasting fates. 47 The following year (1061), Han Qi, the current Grand Councillor, worried at Renzong's failing health and the possibility of disorder after his death, urged the Emperor to select his heir. After much persuasion, in 1062 Renzong chose Zhao Zongshi, the future Emperor Yingzong, as his successor. In the third month of 1063, Renzong died, having reigned for 41 years. 1 3 5 Yingzong was not a healthy man: at the start of his brief four-year reign he even suffered a stroke which left him with a speech defect and too weak to take sole charge of government. Renzong's widow Empress Cao sat in court with him to assist his decision-making, and went as far as privately questioning Han Qi and Ouyang Xiu on the possibility of Yingzong's abdication. Both ministers strongly discouraged the idea, as it happens fortunately, since the summer of 1064 saw Yingzong's health improve, enabling him to take full responsibility in government affairs.136 Ouyang did not enjoy his own extra responsibilities: several years earlier (1054), he had vowed with his friends Han Jiang, Wu Kui and Wang Gui that he would retire at the age of 58 to his beloved Yingzhou. 1 3 7 This would have been in 1064 by traditional Chinese reckoning. The weakness of the present Emperor no doubt exacerbated the petty struggles and intrigues among ministers at court, and Ouyang was tired of continually defending his actions and reputation in the face of jealous opponents. He thus took every opportunity to request a provincial post. For instance, in late-1064 the Xixia again invaded, causing an urgent situation in the North-West: in the first month of 1065 Ouyang three times sought a transfer to the provinces, taking the blame for the invasion on himself, but he was refused.138 Likewise, in mid-1065, a controversy arose about the title to be 1 3 5 See Xuanji 442-443. 1 3 6 For detailed quotations of Han and Ouyang's answers to the Empress, see Xuanji 443; and Tuo Tuo, Song Shi %Z op.cit. vol.30, 10379. 1 3 7 See preface of Ouyang's poem to Han in Ji vol.2, 7.38. Mentioned in Xuanji 215. 1 3 8 See Ji vol. 1, nianpu 1.20; and for Ouyang's memorials requesting a transfer, ibid. vol.2, 10.131-134. 48 awarded Emperor Yingzong's natural father: whether he was truly an "Emperor" or just "Father of the Emperor." 1 3 9 The former would seem disrespectful to Renzong, the deceased Emperor; the latter to the present Emperor! Such an argument provided plenty of fuel for political backbiters, since the loyalty of those on both sides could be mercilessly questioned. Using the excuse of prolonged autumn rains causing flood disasters in many parts of the country, Ouyang again begged three times to resign, but was again refused.140 Clearly the Imperial family appreciated his talents more than he himself! In fact, just a month earlier the statesman Wen Yanbo had been recalled to the capital as Military Affairs Commissioner (an even higher position than that of Ouyang) after Ouyang had twice declined promotion.1 4 1 Ouyang's poetry of this period dwells almost exclusively on the burdens of office, and his desire to retire and edit his writings for posterity. For instance, "Book-Reading," of 1061, concludes its autobiographical survey by asking: 1 4 2 When will I be granted my weary bones — Assuming I manage to avoid all accusations? I'll buy books and load them on a boat into retirement, I'll build a house on the banks of Ying waters. I'll take all the essays and writings of my lifetime, Punctuating and editing them in orderly fashion. They may even last until later generations, And I won't die silently like cattle or pigs! 1 3 9 Former Emperor Renzong had been Yingzong's uncle. 1 4 0 Ji vol.1, nianpu 1.20, and ibid, vol.2, 10.134-135. For analysis of this controversy, cf. James T.C. Liu, op.cit. 77-79. 1 4 1 The position was that of Canzhi zhengshi Ouyang's two memorials declining the offer are in Ji vol.2, 10.124. 1 4 2 Ji vol. 1,2.53. 49 Finally, in early 1066 Empress Cao proposed a decree that Yingzong's father should be called "Emperor," and Yingzong reversed the judgement, decreeing that his father need not adopt this title, instead remaining "Father of the Emperor." Though this decision settled the matter according to the law, with Empress Cao paying lip-service to Yingzong's father, but Renzong politely declining to insult the former Emperor, the opponents of Han Qi and Ouyang Xiu refused to let the matter rest. They criticized Han Qi for overstepping the bounds of his position, suspecting that he had arranged the outcome, and they revived attacks on Ouyang's personal behaviour, this time accusing him of sexual impropriety with his eldest daughter-in-law.143 Ouyang persistently requested a provincial posting, but not until the third month of 1067, two months after Yingzong had succumbed to illness and died, was he finally permitted by the new Emperor Shenzong to leave the capital, still surrounded by slanderous attacks on his personal l i fe . 1 4 4 Granted the governorship of Bozhou i g '}\\ (present Bo County, on the border between Anhui and Henan Provinces), Ouyang arrived there in the sixth month of 1067, having passed through Yingzhou on the way. Until his death in 1072, he did not return to the central government, despite invitations in 1070 by the reforming group then in power under Wang Anshi. In fact, although moving to two further provincial postings in Qingzhou (1068) and Caizhou (1070), 1 4 5 and attempting to alleviate the hardship of 1 4 3 See James T.C. Liu, op.cit. 79-82, for the events leading up to this slander. Also Ji vol.1, nianpu 1.21. Ouyang composed many memorials defending himself against the accusations: see those directed to his main accuser, Jiang Zhiqi, in Ji vol.2, 11.1-7. 1 4 4 Ji vol. 1, nianpu 1.21 -22. 1 4 5 Present Yidu County, Shandong Province, and Runan County, Henan Province respectively. 50 peasants caused by abuses of the reformers' new Green Sprouts Law of 1069 and other major policy changes, Ouyang's heart was set on retirement.146 His poems now turn more and more towards recluse figures, whom he admires for spending their lives away from ordinary society in remote mountain caves and the l ike . 1 4 7 In 1068 he took a major step in becoming a "recluse" himself, having a house built in Ruyin County, Yingzhou, and from that year again persistently sent up memorials begging to retire from office altogether.148 Ouyang's mini-autobiography of 1070, written to explain his newly adopted sobriquet, Six Ones Recluse ( A —* @ ± Liu-Yi Jushi) well expresses his realization that what gives him true satisfaction is ultimately his private existence: his books and zither; his collection of ancient inscriptions; his chess set; a pot of wine; and, unifying all these, his self. 1 4 9 One can easily imagine him spending these last few years enjoying his many pastimes, collecting and editing his writings, and reflecting on his eventful career. In the sixth month of 1071, the court finally allowed Ouyang Xiu to retire, granting him the honorary title of Guanwen Palace Lesser Tutor of the Crown Prince, Retired Official. 1 5 0 He returned to Yingzhou the next month and died there almost exactly a year later, on the twenty third day of the intercalary seventh month of 1072. 1 5 1 1 4 6 For Wang Anshi's reform program, see a convenient summary in James T C . Liu, Reform in Sung China: WangAn-shih (1021-1086) and his New Policies (Cambridge, Mass. 1959). For Ouyang's response to these reforms, see the same author's Ou-yang Hsiu, op.cit. 82-83. 1 4 7 1 translate some of these poems in chapter 2 on mountains, and chapter 3, section on tea-drinking, below. 1 4 8 See Ji vol.1, nianpu 1.22; and memorials in ibid, vol.2, 11.16-23 1 4 9 Ji vol.1, 5.78-79; andXuanji 421-2. Translated by Egan 223-224. The five kinds of objects mentioned here, plus Ouyang himself, make "six ones." 1 5 0 Ji vol.1, nianpu 1.23. 1 5 1 Ibid. 1.24. An intercalary month was an extra month inserted every few years to readjust the calendar, since the traditional Chinese year only had 360 days. 51 Over the next forty years, the court awarded him several posthumous titles, all of which were received on his behalf by his son F e i . 1 5 2 His collection of writings, the Jushi ji, appeared in 1072. Ouyang edited this collection himself in the last years of his life, and it was revised in 1072 by his son F a . 1 5 3 A preface was added by Su Shi, Ouyang's most famous protege, in 1091, 1 5 4 and the collection was expanded a century later into the Ouyang Wenzhonggongji, including his lyrics (ci BR]) and many more prose and poetic pieces discarded by Ouyang or unavailable to him for the earlier edition. 1 5 5 1 5 2 Ibid, and Liu Ruoyu, op.cit. 30. 1 5 3 For Ouyang's editing work, see Ji vol. 1, nianpu postface, 1.25; see also Fa's dating at the end of each j uan, for instance, Jir vol.1, 1.11. 1 5 4 Ji vol. 1, Jushi ji xu (after nianpu) 1.1-2, with date on 1.2. 1 5 5 The later edition was edited by Sun Qianyi ( ^ g$t in 1191. See his dating at the end of each juan, e.g. Ji vol. 1, 1.11. This collection is now often called Ouyang Yongshuji, as in the edition I use. 52 Chapter 2: Dynamic, Tranquil, Intellectual — Poems on Mountains Ouyang Xiu's experience of mountain scenery, as reflected in his poetry, began in Luoyang while serving in his first official post. Surrounded by talented colleagues in the entourage of Qian Weiyan (977-1034), Ouyang spent many sociable hours on excursions around the "Western Capital." He made records of two such trips in his poem series "Travelling to Longmen, Dividing Topics Into Fifteen Poems" and "Twelve Poems on Mount Song,"1 both from 1032. Al l these poems are brief, vivid impressions of particular scenes, for instance, the following. Stone Bamboo Shoot1 Huge rock, you rise so sheer, Growing alone on the edge of this summit, In white clouds and azure mist 4 Who can see your jade-like hue? Perhaps only the mountain bird flying, Circling constantly, sometimes comes to perch. Ouyang has consciously adopted this six-line stanza: of the twenty seven poems in these two series, twenty one use the same form. To readers familiar with the innumerable 1 See these poem series mJi vol.1, 1.2-4 and 6.42-44. Ouyang's poetry is collected in vol.1, ce 1, 2 and 6, and vol.2, ce 7. 2 Ji vol. 1, 1.3. The "stone bamboo" is a thin, protruding rock formation resembling a bamboo shoot. They occur at most of the famous mountain ranges in China; I encountered some on a visit to Huangshan (Yellow Mountains) in Anhui Province, in 1992. 53 eight- and four-line regulated verses of the Tang period, Ouyang's experiments must have given a curiously open-ended feeling. The content of the final couplet is similarly open-ended: the mountain bird, "constantly circling, sometimes comes to perch" — doubtless only for a moment before soaring off again. The last character of the poem is "perch" {xi ,§>): the reader can imagine it about to launch into another line. As we shall see, Ouyang Xiu enjoys creating new formal features, particularly in his mountain poems, in order better to encompass the power the subject exerts on his imagination. Though only a short work, "Stone Bamboo Shoot" also contains two other features typical of Ouyang's poetry. First, the poem exemplifies Ouyang's preference for extraordinary objects — here the rock masquerading as bamboo shoot. A quick glance through the titles of his collected poems will prove Ouyang's lifelong fascination with unusual natural occurrences, strange animals, ancient artifacts and the like. 3 Secondly, there is a sense of mystery about this object: it is constantly obscured by mists; only a careful observer, or an eagle, would become aware of its presence and "jade-like hue." Ouyang also continually returns to this theme of the discovery of hidden treasure, or hidden precious objects, as I will demonstrate below. Later, in 1036, Ouyang Xiu was exiled to Yiling in Xiazhou (near present Yichang City, Hubei Province). There he encountered much more impressive mountain scenery, now famous as the Three Gorges of the Yangtze River. In fact, mountains were perhaps the only redeeming feature of this provincial backwater, as the following poem suggests: 3 This feature is noted by Ronald Egan. See Egan 99-112. 54 Sent to Mei Shengyu [1037].4 Green mountains everywhere I look, chaotic and endless, Chickens and dogs, thin and scraggy, in several hundred homes. By Chu customs, New Year involves many ghost exorcisms, 4 The Man locality dialect is foreign to Northern Chinese.5 Circling the town the river flows fast, boats have trouble mooring, Facing the county, mountains rise high, the sun readily slants down. Banging drums and stamping out songs, they set up the evening market, 8 Appealing to turtle[-shells], divining for rain, they hurry to burn the stubble. Through clumps of forest, in broad daylight, inauspicious birds fly, On hall terraces, out of season, unusual flowers appear Only the mountains and streams here are absolutely magnificent, 12 If sent off to someone, they'd certainly manage to boast of being a painting! After a brief period in the capital Kaifeng (1040-1045), Ouyang again fell foul of his superiors, and was exiled to Chuzhou (present Anhui Province). There, as I mentioned earlier, he received much poetic inspiration from the Langye Mountains, building his famous Drunken Old Man Pavilion on their slopes.6 Here, I will examine in greater detail some of Ouyang Xiu's major poems on the theme of mountains, written both in these periods of exile, and later in his career. It seems that, on the one hand, he valued the extraordinary, even freakish, climatic conditions, the 4 Ji vol. 1, 2.73-74. Dating for many of Ouyang's poems is given in the contents of Ji vol. 1, Mulu @£| , 1.1-136. 5 For Man and Chu, see biographical sketch, nn.47 and 48, p.21 above. 6 1 have referred to Ouyang's prose account describing this pavilion, "Record of the Drunken Old Man Pavilion," and Egan's English translation, above pp.33-34, n.92. 55 weird-shaped cliffs and gullies, the massive waterfalls and unusual flora and fauna of the mountain environment. These aspects triggered his imagination and tested the limits of his expressive talents, resulting in poems as unusual as their subjects. I would term this a "dynamic" mountain influence, producing a visionary, transcendent experience. On the other hand, Ouyang also appreciated the tranquil depth of mountains — the soothing sounds of trickling streams; cool, fragrant forest air; escape from the struggles and worries of official life. This we might term the "calming," or "tranquil" influence. Finally, I will mention Ouyang's tendency to compare the different kinds of mountains he has visited, noting their relative merits and demerits: what I would call an "intellectual" influence of mountains. Dynamic Mountains The poem which follows exemplifies dynamism to an almost unbelievable degree. It must rank among the most energetic farewell poems ever written. Lu Mountain High! Given to Fellow Student Liu Zhongyun on his Retirement to Nankang [1051].7 Lu Mountain, oh so high! Several million feet — Its base twists for several hundred miles, It towers up, rising sheer and prominent, beside the Yangtze River. 4 The Yangtze River, flowing from the west, rushes past its foot, Here it has formed Zuoli Lake, lifting its waves — Flooding waves, huge breakers, night and day clashing and pounding together. When clouds disperse, and wind ceases, the mirror of water is clear, 8 Mooring my boat I climb the bank and gaze at it from a distance — 1 Ji vol. 1, 2.16. See also helpful notes in Xuanji 144-146. According to Xuanji, Liu Zhongyun, of the title, was the style-name of one Liu Huan. 56 Above, it scrapes the blue sky with its dark misty clouds, Below it crushes the huge vastness of the Deity of Earth. I will venture closer, entering into its midst — 12 Climbing up to a rocky ledge, I glimpse the empty abyss: A thousand peaks, ten thousand valleys, echo with pine and juniper. From huge rocks overhanging the cliff a flying torrent gushes, The sound of water, crashing and dashing, brings chaos to my ears: 16 Flying snow in the middle of summer, splashing the stony bridge. And constantly I encounter immortal elders and sons of Sakyamuni8 — Once I despised them, following illusion and speaking words of nonsense; Yet now I see crimson clouds and azure cliffs, far and near, reflecting the halls and pavilions, 20 Morning bells and evening drums, deep and distant, with strings of flags and banners. Secluded flowers and wild grasses: I do not know their names — Blown in the wind, moistened by dew, their fragrance fills the canyon, And sometimes pairs of white cranes arrive here on the wing. 24 Though secluded searching takes me far, I cannot reach the end, Thus I intend to break from the world, and leave its confusion behind. I.e. Daoists, or recluses seeking immortality, and Buddhist monks. 57 I envy you, purchasing land and building a home to grow old at its foot, Transplanting rice shoots to fill the fields— 28 Fermenting wine to fill the vats. You wished to make drifting alpine mists, and the warm azure of ten million forms Constantly face your terrace and windows, while you sit or recline. In your heart, many-faceted, there lies a priceless treasure,9 32 But the vulgar world cannot distinguish jade from coloured stones. Your name was listed as an officer for a period of twenty years, In dark robes,10 hair growing white, you were still confined to an outpost. You couldn't use base and servile means for favour and glory, fame and profit — 36 And if it weren't that dark clouds and white rocks held such a profound attraction, What reason could your towering spirit find to descend [to this world]? How few men of strength and virtue there are to compare with you: Alas, I would like to express myself, but how can I find a mighty brush Doubtless it is works such as this which prompted Su Shi (1037-1101), Ouyang's illustrious protege, to compare his poetry to that of L i Bai (701-762).11 Certainly the first line is reminiscent of the opening of Li 's "The Road to Shu is Hard." 1 2 However, the elemental power of the mountain is a cause not of suffering here, but of visionary elation. 9 "Many-faceted," or "with many joints," means one whose character has numerous talents, though literally refers to a tree having many knots in the trunk. See Xuanji 146, 1 0 "Dark robes" (qingshan W were worn by low-ranking officials. 1 1 See Su's preface to Ouyang's collection: Ji vol.1, Jushiji xu 1.2. 1 2 See Chinese text in Quan Tangshi (Zhonghua shuju 1960) 5.1680-1681 (juan 162). Hereafter referred to as QTS. English translation in Irving Lo and Liu Wu-chi, eds., Sunflower Splendor 104-106. standing as high as a flagpole! n.8. 58 At the same time, Ouyang's vision refuses to lose touch completely with reality, which distinguishes this work from L i Bai's other masterpiece "Climbing Tianmu in a Dream, Chanting to Keep you from Leaving," 1 3 with its ranks of immortals, zither-strumming tigers and carriage-pulling phoenixes. The nearest we come to immortals in Ouyang's poem are the "immortal old men" (Daoists?) and Buddhist monks (line 17), whom he is quick to dismiss as bearers of "words of nonsense." Examining the structure more closely, there is a logical progression behind the profusion of images and impressions; likewise, analysing the metre, we discover a basic seven syllable-per-line pulse around which the more extravagantly irregular lines dance. This reference to a poetic metre distinguishes "Lu Mountain High" from the rhyme-prose (fu ® ) of later-Han and Wei-Jin writers,1 4 in spite of Ouyang's use of the archaic pause word xi and some unusual forms of characters. Moreover, the irregular metrical episodes have a close relation with the content expressed, as will emerge during my analysis. Ouyang begins by viewing from a distance the enormous mass of the mountain, a million feet high, thirty miles across. It looms over the wild Yangtze River: immediately we notice the polarity of water and mountain beloved of early landscape poets like Xie Lingyun (385-433), here involving the longest river pounding against one of the most enormous ranges, a truly cosmic opposition of forces. 1 3 Chinese in QTS 5.1779-1780 (Juan 174). English version in Lo and Liu, op.cit. 106-108. Of course, L i Bai claims to see these visions in a dream, from which he wakes at the end in a cold sweat. 1 4 For instance, the Jiang fu fL M ("Rhyme-prose on the River") of Guo Pu (276-324), from which Ouyang seems to borrow some of his diction. See L i Shan, Pingzhu Zhaoming Wenxuan (Saoye Fangshan Press 1931) juan 3, 1-6. It is the shorter fu, often on natural objects, of later-Han and the Wei-Jin period to which I refer, rather than the enormous works by Sima Xiangru (c. 179-118 BC) and his followers. At the same time, the unusual characters that Ouyang uses as rhyme-words are mainly borrowed from Han Y u (768-824): see detailed discussion of this point in my concluding chapter below. 59 In a sudden change of weather, the waves subside — the metre also relaxes from irregularity to a more or less constant seven beats — allowing the poet to come closer (lines 7-11); he surveys the mountain from this position, scraping the sky above and crushing the Earth God below, then seeks to "enter its midst." It is surprising at first that Ouyang uses this expression — he is not aiming for the mountain summit but for its heart, its depth. The next nine lines (12-20) graphically describe this journey: in line 12 he climbs onto a rocky outcrop, and line 13 is his pause there to view the panorama and listen to the wind: " A thousand peaks, ten thousand valleys, echo with pine and juniper." Continuing, he sees a waterfall descending from a precipice, probably overhanging the path since in line 15 he passes right beside it: "The sound of water crashing and dashing brings chaos to my ears." The cold, white spray, "flying snow in the middle of summer," adds to the confusion; time begins to lose its reference in the mountains as this mix of seasons indicates; and the poem's metre correspondingly loses its consistency again.15 Monks and Daoists appear, their bannered temples mingled with the clouds and cliffs, their bells and drums — perhaps morning, perhaps evening — sound in the distance. Finally, going beyond all the noise and crowds of the mountain's "surface," Ouyang discovers a tranquil scene of unknown wild flowers in a fragrant, dew-covered valley; the metre returns to seven-syllable regularity; cranes, those typically reclusive birds, feel at home here. Though deep within the mountain, Ouyang has still not "reached the end" — only cutting himself off from the world would achieve that. Hence his admiration for Liu Huan, to whom the poem is addressed, and who has purchased land and built a home to retire at the foot of Lu Mountain! From line 26, where Liu appears, until the conclusion, Ouyang's hyperbolic description of the mountain overflows into a similar portrait of his friend. Once again, as in the first poem above, we meet the hidden treasure motif: this time a person, Liu, becomes 1 5 Lines 17-20 range from 9 to 11 syllables. 60 a valuable "jade" unnoticed by the world. The comparison with jade in this context suggests that Liu is a precious vein of jade in the mountain, an implication which is strengthened by the witty progression of lines 33 and 35: Liu has languished for twenty years in a minor position, wearing the "dark shirt" of a low-ranking official until he is "white-haired" (qingshan baishou W # Fi T§"). He would not bend himself for worldly privileges; only the profound attraction of "dark clouds" and "white rocks" (qingyun baishi ^ 9 Fi 5) will provide a resting place for his spirit. The man has figuratively been transformed into the mountain, therefore the same adjectives and an equally expansive metre apply to both. Though obviously complimentary in intent, the poem avoids descending into mere fulsome flattery through its remarkably vivid landscape evocation — the journey into the mountain — and touches of humour. The final couplet supports this impression as Ouyang searches for a brush large enough to express his admiration: probably an old joke even in the Song dynasty. Mei Yaochen (1002-1060), Ouyang's lifelong friend, recorded his impressions of this work in a poem "Matching the Rhymes of Secretary Guo Xiangzheng's 'Moved When Spending the Night at Brightness Pavilion After Meeting Rain'," which contains the lines: "Reciting 'Lu Mountain High,'/Ten thousand scenes cannot conceal themselves."16 An anecdote provides some context for Mei's comments. Gongfu was Guo Xiangzheng's style name:17 When Guo Gongfu was young, he liked to recite Duke Wenzhong's [Ouyang Xiu's] poems. One day he visited Mei Shengyu, who said: "Recently I got a letter from Yongshu [Ouyang Xiu]; he has just written 'Lu 1 6 For Mei's poem, dated to 1054, see Zhu Dongrun, ed., Mei Yaochen ji biannian jiaozhu (Shanghai 1980) vol.3, 756-757. 1 7 Attached to ibid. Also quoted in Xuanji 145. 61 Mountain High' and he is quite satisfied with it. I regret that I haven't seen this poem. Gongfu recited it for him. Shengyu beat the rhythm, sighing in appreciation, and said: "Even if I were to write poems for another thirty years, I couldn't manage to compose a single line like this." Gongfu recited it again, and couldn't help becoming elated, so they laid out wine and recited it again. The wine went round several times, they both recited it several dozen times, then concluded the meeting without further conversation. The next day, Shengyu presented a poem to Gongfu . . . Notwithstanding Mei's excitement, Ouyang Xiu rarely composed poems with such shocking metrical irregularity and archaic diction. 1 8 "Lu Mountain High" is an extreme, though brilliant, example of his dynamic approach to mountains. The extended comparison between a person and a mountain, for moral purposes, is also quite rare in his poetry. I have only found one other work, referring to the uncompromising Classics scholar Shi Jie (1005-1045) which briefly compares him to Mount Culai (present Shandong Province) where he taught.19 What is extremely common in Ouyang's other mountain poems is firstly the use of imagination to imbue the scene with an almost spiritual depth.20 I have noted this feature 1 8 Though he often uses irregular metres to a lesser degree, as in several of the poems below. 1 9 In the poem "Reading Culai's Collection" (Ji vol. 1, 1.25) whose first four lines are: "Culai is the Eastern Mountain of Lu,/Master Shi lives on the mountain slopes./What the people of Lu observe/Is the master and the mountain loftily raised high." Lu was the ancient name for the region around present Shandong Province. Shi Jie's nickname was also Master Culai. 2 0 Just how powerful is Ouyang's imaginative urge we can make out by his comments about Lu Mountain in another poem of 1041, "Seeing Off Tan Ying Retiring to Lu Mountain": . . . Anchoring the boat I gazed at Incense Burner Peak [on Lu Mountain], The Incense Burner amidst cloud and mist: Vague in the distance, as if there, yet not there. 62 above when discussing the mountain climb as an inward journey to a tranquil heart, and it is interesting that even such a boisterous poem reaches for stillness at its centre. Later I will provide further examples of the depth and soothing power of mountains. Secondly, there is the ability to discern and express the extraordinary in subjects which most observers would overlook. If, for instance, we consider the above poem from the perspective of a tribute to Liu — rather than as a landscape poem — we witness a minor official, albeit one of great integrity, being transformed into a character of earth-shaking significance. The majority of Ouyang's more dynamic treatments of the mountain theme fall into this second category, of discovery. A fine example is the following poem, beginning with a stone screen, then setting off on an imaginary journey to trace the prehistoric, mythical origins of the stone. Song of the Stone Screen of Scholar Wu [1056] 2 1 Morning light enters the forest, all the birds are startled, Beating their wings they fly in flocks, the crows cawing in disorder, Through the forest, they scatter everywhere, darting into the sky, 4 In their nests, fledgling chicks hungrily wait for the feed. Suddenly we met a clear autumn day, An azure kaleidoscope floating in emptiness. Truly, it was rare and exquisite: In a different class from Qian and Huo [two mountains near Lu Mountain]. I happened to be ill and could not go that time, I could only linger awhile in mid-current. In other words, it appears that Ouyang Xiu never climbed the mountain! Add to this the fact that "Lu Mountain High" was not composed until 1051, ten years later, and Ouyang's tendency to embellish his actual experience with imaginative flourishes becomes clear. See full text of poem in Ji vol.1, 1.10. Also in Xuanji 66-68. 2 1 Ji vol.1, 2.24-25. Also mXuanji 159. 63 Female birds swoop down to peck, male birds hover up high, Male and female call to each other, flying away then returning. Nobody comes to the empty forest; the birds' sounds are joyful, 8 Ancient trees touch the sky, their branches bent and coiled. Below, there is a strange stone, lying between the trunks, Buried in mist, covered by grass, and spotted with moss and lichen. You might inquire, "Who was the one that illustrated this scene?" 12 In point of fact, it is on a stone screen which belongs to the house of Wu! Craftsmen of Guo drilled the Mountain, taking the rocky bones,22 From morning to night they pierced and chopped; it took them many a day, Tens of thousands of forms appeared, all from within the stone. 161 sigh at peoples' ignorance: they cannot see the primordial suffering of Heaven and Earth's creation, Thus they say, "The ten thousand things were born of natural causes." How would they know that in scoring, chiselling and carving the ugly and beautiful, A thousand forms, ten thousand aspects, could not be exhausted, 20 And gods grieved, ghosts wept, night and day unable to take their rest. Otherwise, how did they get what cunning craftsmen and skilful hands — wearying their spirits, exhausting their thoughts — could not attain: Visible, yet almost invisible, faintly rising, clouds of mist? The work of ghosts and gods completed, Heaven and Earth protected it, 24 They hid it within the deepest rocks beneath the mountains of Guo. Yet if only people have the will there's nothing they cannot obtain: Even though Heaven and Earth are divine, they could not manage to hide it. 2 2 Guo Mountain was in Guozhou, present Liishi County, Henan Province, then considered western China. 64 I also suspect that ghosts and gods, eager for victory, hated our kind, 28 They wished to exhaust the grotesque and rare, making our talents seem poor, Thus they dispatched one Master Zhang to travel here from the West. 2 3 Scholar of the house of Wu, you saw it and were delighted, With drunken dots of your violet-haired brush, you soaked it in charcoal-black ink. 32 With such talent, you're certainly able to battle with ghosts and gods, Woe is me! For I am old, and cannot compare with you. If "Lu Mountain High" gave a picture of a dynamic mountain environment with a tranquil heart, "Song of the Stone Screen" provides only, and almost incessantly, movement. This movement is not that of the dance either, but of pick and chisel excavating beauty from formlessness. The subject of the poem is a stone from Guo which bears a beautiful, subtly-coloured grain that resembles a misty landscape. Presumably there are also forest-like patches of green on the stone, inspiring the pastoral description in the first ten lines. As for the birds, male and female flying back and forth, and fledglings waiting in the nest, I would assume these to be Ouyang's imaginative extension, a practice which several other northern Song poets indulged in when writing about paintings.24 Such a lively scene, noisy with birdsong, gives Ouyang's surprize question and answer more bite (lines 11-15); we are shocked to find, first, that the scene is on an artifact belonging to the Wu family and, second, that the myriad forms on the stone occurred naturally, before it had been dug 2 3 An alternative title to the poem was "Matching Master Zhang's Crow and Tree Screen," hence the references to Zhang in this line and to crows above. For "the West," see the previous note. 2 4 Though see above, note 23, for suggestion that crow-like marks may also be on the stone. Ouyang gives another animated description of a painting in "Picture of a Climbing Cart," discussed below. 65 out of the "bones" of Guo Mountain by workers! The reader is brought down with a bump from the soothing pastoral scene; the poem's diction likewise becomes abruptly more prosaic — for example, with the line "in point of fact, it's on a stone screen which belongs to the house of Wu." Now, harsh words such as "excavate," "pierce" and "chop" seem to slice up the lines into sharp-edged pieces. And to increase the sense of roughness in these five lines, the poem's original rhyme-scheme has apparently been put on hold. The former rhyme returns with a vengeance in lines 16-22 — all but one of these lines bears the same rhyme — and this factor prevents the reader becoming completely disoriented by the sudden emergence of a wildly irregular metre. Up to now, Ouyang has managed a constant seven syllables per line; the next few lines range from seven to fifteen syllables! Why this further jolt to our expectations? Anticipating a stock reaction to the poem so far — "Oh, it's a natural stone, not a painting!" — Ouyang overturns it with the blunt comment that people are ignorant, so "they say 'the ten thousand things were born of natural causes'" (line 17). In answer to this claim, Ouyang provides another ingenious example of wit: since beautiful artifacts require for their production the strenuous efforts of human craftsmen, the execution of such an "exquisitely finished" natural stone must, by inference, have demanded enormous exertions from ghosts and gods. Such spurious intellectual reasoning, used as a means of entertainment or humorous persuasion, is a common feature of Ouyang's poetry, and as I shall show in later chapters, resurfaces in many and varying guises. It is one of the ways in which he sustains interest over his numerous long poems with their relatively plain diction. Yet it is not only the content of lines 16-22 that demonstrates Ouyang's wit; the irregularity of the metre fits exactly with the events being described. Ghosts and gods are creating ten thousand forms, carving the beautiful and ugly out of primeval chaos: surely such a difficult process justifies the chaotic line length, especially since the metre immediately subsides into regularity at the words "the work of ghosts and gods completed . . . " Further justification for the two longest lines (16 and 21) is provided by their 66 respective content: the former deals with the problems of creation — "I sigh at peoples' ignorance: they cannot see the primordial suffering of Heaven and Earth's creation" — a long process given a suitably long line; the latter portrays the great physical and intellectual efforts of humans attempting to equal the standards of "natural" creation — "Otherwise, how did they get what cunning craftsmen and skilful hands — wearying their spirits, exhausting their thoughts — could not attain?" — the line stretches out, imitating the extended struggle. A final instance of the graphic use of line construction comes in line 22: [Literally] "As if not there, as if there, indistinctly rising, clouds and mist." The first phrase ruowu ruoyou ^ M 4% would be sufficiently vague for most descriptions, but Ouyang draws out the line further with a rhyming binome piaomiao $ | ("indistinct, faint"), extending like a real tendril of mist. The rest of the poem proceeds with a more balanced, though still tongue-in-cheek, reasoning. Ouyang posits: either heaven and earth hid the stone within Guo Mountain, but peoples' curiosity was too strong to conceal it from them — the hidden treasure motif reappears here (lines 23-26); or, alternatively, in an age like the Northern Song when, Ouyang implies, strangeness is a prized attribute in the cultural sphere, the ghosts and gods wish to demonstrate how incomparably peculiar nature can be, thus proving the imaginative poverty of human beings (lines 27-28). Finally, Ouyang concludes once more with a protestation of his lack of energy and ability — "I am old, and cannot compare with you" — having completed another poetic tour-de-force. This poem is not a mountain poem as such; it takes an object encountered in a civilized setting (in a friend's house) and traces back to its mythical, primeval source at the heart of a mountain. With the poet, we take an imaginative journey to a world of dynamic power similar to that of "Lu Mountain High." Here, however, Ouyang gives a clear, if playful, treatment of the distinction between or fusion of nature and artifice. A "natural" woodland scene turns out to be an imaginative extension of the grain in a naturally colourful stone; the stone is, however, painstakingly carved by supernatural beings as a 67 test for Ouyang's generation of artificers to imitate; Scholar Wu has imitated the stone perfectly in his poem — "You are certainly able to battle with ghosts and gods" — whereas Ouyang claims not to have managed it, after a remarkable attempt to do so. Clearly Ouyang is amazed by creative processes. Frequently we see him returning to the source of objects, seeking the original conjunction of forces which produced their creative spark. In another poem on a stone screen, this time a "violet, moon-coloured stone," he spins a yarn about the stone gaining its translucent sheen from moonlight reflected on the sea; his friend tries to sell it to him for a thousand cash, claiming that when the moon is full, the stone will light up a dark room right to the eaves!25 Though metrically this is a more restrained, regular work than that above, it includes Ouyang's explanation of a relevant tendency in his character:26 . . . How great are Heaven and Earth and all in between! Their ten thousand wonders cannot be fully expressed. Alas! I cannot help going too far, Longing to probe the depths of every matter. I wish to take all that my two eyes and ears can perceive, And compete with Creative Transformation for every single hairtip! . . . In this case, Ouyang once again feels his talents are inadequate for the task, and passes the stone to his friend Su Shunqin (1008-1048) whose unbridled character can face the challenge undaunted. Thus we find Ouyang constantly struggling to find words for the spirit, vitality and sheer variety of the world; its creativity inspires his own creative urge and he is impelled to 2 5 "Song of the Violet Stone Screen," composed in 1047, with the alternative title "Song of the Moonstone Inkstone Screen, Sent to Su Zimei [Shunqin]." In Ji vol.1, 2.3-4. This poem is translated in full in chapter 5 below, section on the Moon. 2 6 Ibid. 2.3, lines 23-28. 68 set his immense feelings into words. It is no surprize that he must often stretch ordinary forms of poetry to breaking-point in order to hint at such grandeur. With regard to mountains, although Ouyang certainly appreciates their enormous power and dynamism in itself, he tends to use the sentiments inspired by mountain imagery to indicate the hidden "vastness" of people (i.e. Liu Huan in "Lu Mountain High"), or more often objects (the stone screen). Rather than concluding that this method belittles the mountains, making them somewhat awkward guests in the studies of civilized scholars, I feel we should instead reverse the perspective. As a result, a minor official, or a single small object, even a stone, becomes a window into the enormity of the universe. The care with which Ouyang depicts mountain scenery also rebels against the idea that he is only using it as a stock image. Moreover, the witty manner with which he treats his subjects indicates that this is a universe to be enjoyed wherever possible. To illustrate further Ouyang's use of the associations of mountains with dynamism and creative cosmic forces, as a means to open up an object and fill it with imaginative resonance, I will refer to a few more poems. First, there is the "Sealscript on Stone Poem" of 1045, in which Ouyang highly praises a stele atop the Langye Mountains (then part of Chuzhou, his second place of exile) for its ancient-style calligraphic inscription.27 The calligraphy which formed the basis for the stele was that of a famous Mid-Tang calligrapher L i Yangbing (fl. late-750s), who in turn based his style on that of Qin statesman L i Si (d.208 BC). In fact, Ouyang only saw a rubbing of the stele brought to him by his monk friend Hui Jue, hence the mountain imagery again presumably emerges 2 7 Chinese text in Ji vol. 1, 6.69-70. Also in Xuanji 97. Chaves gives an English translation of this work, along with translations of the matching poems by Mei Yaochen and Su Shunqin. See Chaves, op.cit. 205-209. Another facet of Ouyang's character was his love of ancient inscriptions on bronze and stone. As I mentioned, his collection contains a famous annotated catalogue of such inscriptions, the Jigu lu ("Record of Collecting Antiquities"). See Ji vol. 3, 15.49-176 and 16.1-75. It is in poems like "Seal-Script on Stone" that we can begin to comprehend the inspiration Ouyang received from such inscriptions, and his motivation for collecting them. 69 from his imagination or memory, rather than from direct observation of the site. He considers that the writing cannot be human; it must be that . . . . In the beginning, when Heaven and Earth divided from embryonic pulp, Primal spirit solidified in this towering, craggy place; At that time wild birds walked all over the mountain rocks, And left their traces upon the grey cliffs, of a prehistoric age . . . . (lines 11-14) Here we have another supernatural creation, this time posited for a person's calligraphic work. The poem continues with a familiar theme, of concealment and discovery, airily expressed: . . . . The Mountain Deity was not willing that people would see them often, And constantly disgorged cloud and fog, deeply screening and burying them; Crowds of immortals, flying through the air, wished to descend and read: Often they'd borrow the pure light of the ocean moon and come here . . . (lines 15-18) Finally there is a surprizing admission: "Alas I cannot comprehend the method in the calligraphy;/Yet seeing it I feel the eyes of my mind opening wide" (lines 19-20). Then in the last couplet, he sends rubbings and his poem to Mei Yaochen and Su Shunqin to see whether they can produce a better tribute. Though Ouyang sees no clear method in the calligraphy, merely its age and the vitality it emits are enough to "open wide the eyes of his mind." This is a succinct way to describe the effect many of Ouyang's poems involving mountains exert on the reader, opening our mind's eye to an awareness of hidden depth and power in objects. 70 Mention of calligraphy brings us to the subject of fine art. I have touched upon painting briefly with the "natural" woodland scene on the stone screen above. Another poem which deals with painting, this time by a human artist, is the "Picture of a Climbing Cart" of 1056.2 8 The work begins with an imaginative recreation of the scene, a horse and cart struggling up a steep mountain road, then proceeds quite abruptly to a discussion of Yang Bao, the painting's owner, and a poem that Mei Yaochen composed about it. The meandering continues through a theoretical distinction between poetry and painting, finally concluding with a return to Yang Bao, who now possesses both the original "Picture of a Climbing Cart" and two poems about the painting! Pale mountains, crag on crag, Jumbled stones piled up high, Mountain rocks are sharp and jagged; the cart goes bumpety bump. 4 Mountain contours twist and slope, following the creek in the gully, With hubs askew and axles tipping [the cart] seems about to topple. Emerging from the narrow opening between a pair of cliffs, Suddenly one sees a flat plain stretching for a hundred li.29 8 With the long slopes and steep inclines the ox has used all its strength, As day turns cold and evening comes, the driver's heart quickens. Yang Bao endured hunger as an official in the State University, With hard-earned cash he bought this painting which only just fills the scroll. 12 He loved its old trees, hard rocks, Mountains twisting, road turning, High and low, crooked and straight, Level and sloping, hidden and visible, 2 8 Ji vol.1, 2.25-26. Also in Xuanji 162-164. 2 9 One // J§. was a distance of approx. a third of a mile. 71 16 Beauty and ugliness, front and rear views: each with its own character, Near and far, the tiny details all clearly distinguishable. He himself said that once it bore the hands of several masters, The painting was ancient, passed about frequently: all their names were lost, 20 Afterwards, when one who saw it found out the name [of the artist], He begged for a poem from Elder Mei to clear up the situation. The ancient painting painted the meaning, it didn't paint the form, Mei's poem describes the objects, and doesn't conceal the emotions. 24 To forget the form and attain the meaning is understood by few, It's better then to view the poem as if you are viewing the painting! Now I know that Master Yang truly loves the rare, Such a painting and such a poem, and he possesses them both! 28 When joys are able to make you content, then you are truly wealthy; Why must we demand gold and jade to be called rich and noble? Viewing the painting in the morning, Reading the poem in the evening, 32 Possessing these, Master Yang will never suffer hunger! One edition of this poem adds "Matching the Rhymes of Shengyu" to the title, and gives the note "presented to Lecturer Yang" [i.e. Yang Bao]. 3 0 In fact, although doubtless inspired by Mei's poem "Observing Yang Zhimei's [Bao's] Picture of a Climbing Cart," both the rhyme and the metre of Ouyang's version are quite different.31 The latter, with its four-syllable interpolations into a basic seven-syllable pulse (see lines 1-2 and 12-15), is particularly effective in suggesting the bumpy and twisting road in the painting. Yet in spite of these distinctions, the reference to Mei's poem proves very 3 0 In Ji, ibid. 3 1 See Mei's poem in Zhu Dongrun, op.cit. vol.3, 901. 72 instructive in other ways: firstly, it can serve as a foil, bringing into sharp relief Ouyang Xiu's unique approach to writing a poem (I shall discuss this point below); secondly, and crucial for interpreting Ouyang's work, Mei informs us in his poem that he actually wrote it down on the painting scroll itself: "I write it for you at the end of the scroll,/Hoping that you will pass it from generation to generation."32 With these words, suddenly Ouyang's poem gains a much tighter structural consistency: we are not merely dealing with two different objects which Yang Bao possesses, but with a single, complex painting-poem object; hence, Ouyang's comparison of the peculiarities of the two genres here is entirely fitting. Moreover, I have noted in discussions of poems above that Ouyang almost invariably juxtaposes his descriptions of mountains with other subjects. I suggested that the effect of such juxtaposition is often a remarkably expanded perception of an apparently minor theme, which draws the reader into a powerful, dynamic world. As if goaded by the very complexity of his topic here, Ouyang is not content with the simple juxtaposition of two subjects; instead he portrays, first, the mountainous world of the painting (inanimate object), another imaginative reconstruction of a static scene;33 next, Yang Bao (human subject) appears as a poor, starving official who used his hard-earned money to buy the painting, rather than filling his belly, presumably. Third, there is Yang Bao's more abstract description of the painting, quite distinct from Ouyang's "own" attempt (lines 12-17). The mountain-like breadth of Yang Bao's character is implied both by the inspiration he clearly receives from such a painting, and by his choice of Mei Yaochen to compose a complementary poem on the scroll. Hence, fourthly, there is Mei's poem — another inanimate object which, Ouyang claims, opens up the deeper, fulfilling mountainous world of the painting. Ouyang encompasses all these various subjects within the structure of his own poem. 3 2 Ibid, lines 23-24. 3 3 Similar to the activity of the crows in "Song of the Stone Screen of Scholar Wu" above. 73 If such an analysis seems rather too complex, some justification is provided by the description of the painting which Ouyang attributes to Yang: He loved its old trees, hard rocks, Mountains twisting, road turning, High and low, crooked and straight, Level and sloping, hidden and visible, Beauty and ugliness, front and rear views: each with its own character, Near and far, the tiny details all clearly distinguishable (lines 12-17). It is a similar intellectual abundance and fertile imagination that Ouyang's poems involving mountain themes portray. Before leaving this poem, I will draw a comparison with the work by Mei Yaochen on the same subject.34 Apart from the obvious fact that, unlike Ouyang, Mei does not refer to another poem in his work, hence one level of Ouyang's complex structure is missing, there are several other differences of style and content. There is no tribute to Yang Bao in Mei's poem, no attempt to show Yang's appreciation of the painting, or to draw a connection between him and the mountain scene. Mei's work consists simply of 12 lines describing the content of the painting, then 12 more lines discussing its attribution. For that, Mei chooses the Liang dynasty (502-557) painter Zhan Ziqian, yet notes the opinion of another observer that it is a much later work by Wei Xian of the Southern Tang (923-936). Since both are "wonderful artists" (line 17), the painting is worth keeping, whoever created it and despite its rather worn appearance. Mei concludes by expressing the hope (mentioned above) that his poem on the painting will also be kept and passed down through the generations. 3 4 Reference at note 31 above. 74 Mei's poem therefore adopts the tone of a connoisseur, first bringing observers' attention to certain details which show the painter's skill — for instance the "old, thin needles" of tall pines at the entrance to the valley, in contrast to the "withered, high" trunks of the ancient trees on the stream banks (lines 1-2) — and then risking a scholarly opinion on its attribution. Both these stages are carried out with great care, avoiding any recourse, if possible, to the poet's emotions. This is perhaps what Ouyang means by the comment: "Mei's poem describes the objects, and doesn't conceal the emotions" (line 23). Ouyang, by contrast, spends the first six lines emphasizing the extreme jaggedness and steepness of the mountain road, and the consequent rough passage of the carts. Apart from the opening irregular metre which I noted, the profusion of onomatopoeic and rhyming binomes gives the impression of piled up mountains — linlin il$t ("jagged and cragged"), diedie ft ft ("pile on pile") and even perhaps qiao 'ao tfji S | ("up and down") — and of the consequent bumping cart: lulu 1^  ("bumpety bump"). These binomes all occur in the first fifteen characters (three lines). Likewise the repetition of mountain three times, and rocks four times, in the first four lines adds to the sense of the landscape crowding in on all sides. Mei Yaochen, on the other hand, repeats only one adjective in all his twelve lines of description — the earthy hills pale into the "distance and further distance" — and the only noun which occurs more than once, "cart" (ju $ ) , does so because there is more than one cart in the picture! Ouyang is so concentrated on the tortuous landscape that he neglects to specify how many carts there are, and conspicuously avoids any distinction between carts at different stages of the route. Interestingly, he seems literally to be "animating" the journey as he opens the scroll — mountains and rocks roll by, then the cart bumps along; continuing to open up the scroll, more mountains and a creek appear; next the cart proceeds with hubs and axles tilted as if toppling over; then, emerging from between the cliffs, the scroll fully open, one sees the flat plain stretching ahead; now, though the ox is tired and evening is coming — bringing a corresponding drop in temperature "in the painting" (see line 9) — the traveller's heart 75 quickens with excitement. The many different carts at various stages in Mei's description thus become for Ouyang Xiu a single cart caught in several "freeze frames" as it moves through the crowding-in landscape and onto the plain. In contrast to Mei's static depiction, Ouyang observes the painting dynamically, as if it is a visual poem occurring in temporal succession. For Ouyang, too, we could adopt his own maxim: "Better to view the poem as if you are viewing the painting" (line 25). His method of "viewing" just happens to differ from that of Mei Yaochen. In "Picture of a Climbing Cart," through its juxtaposition of poem with painting and its "quotation" of Yang Bao's reasons for the painting's attractiveness, Ouyang also takes the opportunity to clarify his own manner of appreciating cultural objects as related to the landscape and the natural world. "The ancient painting," he writes, "painted the meaning; it didn't paint the form" (line 22). 3 5 This comment suggests that painters before the Song were not aiming for realistic representation — as Song literati might have understood the term — but for the meaning implied by outward forms; Ouyang's term "meaning" here is perhaps best defined by referring to the list of polar attributes which Yang Bao loved in the painting above. Only such a combination of opposites, including even beauty and ugliness, can indicate the manifold variety of the world. As for Mei's 3 5 This section discusses lines 22-25 of the poem. It is very possible that these lines are put into Yang Bao's mouth, continuing his account of the painting's attribution. Yet Ouyang clearly approves of the sentiments, hence his conclusion in line 26: "So I know that Master Yang truly likes the rare!" Egan also discusses these lines and lines 26-31 in his conclusion. He feels that Ouyang is generally more interested in the "meaning" of artworks than their "appearance" (xing which I have translated "form"). See Egan 196-7, 199. Rather than concluding with Egan that Ouyang is here espousing an ideal of "amateurism," and "valuing . . . yi [M meaning] over technical competence" in his literary as well as other cultural pursuits (ibid. 198-199), I would instead point, first, to the great care which he takes in structuring his longer poems, even down to fine details of metre and word-play; and second, to the close relation between these formal features and the content which they express. It is true that he does not describe objects as precisely as Mei Yaochen, but that is because he prefers to emphasize other poetic techniques, and certainly not because he devalues poetic craftsmanship, or "technical competence," in general. 76 poem, it "describes objects, and doesn't conceal the emotions" (line 23). As I have claimed, Mei is much more careful than Ouyang to give an exact description of the painting's contents. However, "to forget the form and attain the meaning is understood by few" (line 24). This phrase probably has two referents: first, ancient paintings, which are neglected for their lack of realism — except by connoisseurs like Yang Bao — and second, Mei's poems which, due to their remarkable objectivity, careless readers assume to have no inner "meaning," or profundity. Therefore, the conclusion in line 25 — "It is better then to view the poem as if you are viewing the painting" — in this context implies that although Mei's poem is a surface description of the painting's contents and possible attribution, we see, through its attention to detail, many meaningful features which we might otherwise overlook: he acts as a guide on what to notice in the painting. His poem is perfect for its context, written beside the painting. Ouyang Xiu, on the other hand, seems to place less faith in observers' ability to catch the painting's meaning. His description, aided by imaginative touches, attempts to show the emotional and structural power of the painting; he even gives two possible ways of looking, one concrete, the other abstract, to demonstrate the different levels of meaning in the work. His poem, even down to its formal aspect, attempts to reproduce the strong effect which the painting exerted on him, thus bringing it alive. Without the painting to examine, Mei Yaochen's poem would seem rather dry; whereas Ouyang's poem stands admirably by itself.36 Finally, in this section on Ouyang Xiu's dynamic mountain poems, the work entitled "Large Stone of Ling Creek" (from 1046)3 7 well exemplifies his interest in objects 3 6 Though certainly Mei Yaochen's admission that his poem is written "at the end of the scroll" is essential for understanding the structural ingenuity of Ouyang's work. 3 7 In Ji vol.1, 1.30. Also translated, but only very briefly discussed, by Egan 101-102. See also Egan's rendition of the prose account on two such rocks (ibid. 217-218). From this account we learn that originally there were six Ling Creek rocks, arranged in the garden of 77 which will bring alive the power of a mountain landscape through sympathetic imaginative effort. The poem runs as follows. New frost falls at night; autumn waters are shallow, There, a stone reveals itself at the edge of the cold creek. Covered with moss, soiled by earth, and pecked away by wildfowl, 4 It appears every autumn out of the creek, and in spring is submerged once more. By the creekside an aged fellow has known of it since his youth, He's puzzled why I come to gaze, so warm and enthusiastic. I love it, and move it far away, towards Secluded Valley, 3 8 8 Dragging it out with three young bullocks, and loading it on two carts. We pass right through the centre of town: they stop their market to watch, They are simply amazed and consider it strange that someone would treasure it again. Wilderness mists and wild grasses have buried it such a long time, 121 wash it clean at the pure, chill spring within the stony cave. a certain General Liu Jin (fl. late-ninth century). During the Five Dynasties period (907-960) Liu's family was ruined, and the garden abandoned. Four of the rocks were removed by anonymous collectors, and the fifth Ouyang has seen in "the home of a local resident." The final rock, subject of this poem, was too large to move, hence its neglect (Chinese text in Ji vol.1, 5.37-38). This explanation is quite surprizing if one reads it alongside the poem. As Egan notes, the prose and poetic accounts have very different concerns (ibid. 102). In fact, apart from the vague reference to "a hundred battles changing hill to valley" in line 19 of the poem, which we find indicates the Five Dynasties, I feel the poem reads better when divorced from the specific context. Thus, Ouyang purposely avoids mentioning the other five rocks in the poem, since he wishes to set up the contrast between a strange, stone-loving official like himself, and ordinary people who consider the rock useless. Reference to the other five rocks, all previously removed by collectors due to their relative portability, would dampen somewhat our impression of Ouyang as discoverer of hidden treasure. 3 8 Secluded Valley: the place in Chuzhou where Ouyang built his Drunken Old Man Pavilion, and Pavilion of Abundance and Joy. 78 Red columns and green bamboo will cover it with their reflections, I've chosen to give it the place of honour, facing the southern terrace. Lined up beside the southern terrace are tens of thousands of peaks! 16 Never before has such a wonderful craggy mass existed. Now I know that rare objects are neglected by the world: We struggle to buy them, spending a fortune, but how long can we retain them?39 Over mountains and rivers, a hundred battles have transformed hill into valley, 20 What was the reason that made you fall on the bank of that barren creek? Since mountain classics and local gazeteers cannot discover the source, Many different theories appear, struggling in chaos and confusion. Al l agree that Nugua, when she first began her refining, 24 Dissolved and condensed the unified spirit to form the essential purity. She gazed above at the blue sky and, filling in all its cracks, Dyed this carmine and emerald [stone] which dazzles and gives out warmth. Some suspect that, among the ancients, Fire-Producing Master 28 Revolved it, giving off sparks of fire for frying and for baking. It must have been such a divine sage who marked it with his own hands, Otherwise no-one could carve such holes, and excavate such caverns. Another declares that the Han ambassador, bearing the seal of the Han, 32 Travelled north-west for ten thousand //', reaching the edge of Kunlun. His route passing through Yutian, he obtained a precious jade, 4 0 It floated into the Middle Kingdom from the source of the Yellow River. Sand ground it, waters gushed over it, thus the caves were pierced, 36 And so it was that the carving and drilling left no spot or blemish. 3 9 Literally, "how many people do we pass them down to?" 4 0 Yutian is in the west part of present Xinjiang Autonomous Region; Egan suggests that the Han ambassador is Zhang Qian, who explored to the west from 139-126 B.C. (op.cit. 102). 79 Alas for me! I have a mouth but lack the gifts for debating, Heaving a sigh, all I can do is stroke it with my two hands. Lu Tong and Han Y u are no longer in this world, 40 No more are there heroic writings to suppress the hundred oddities. Struggling for rarity, battling to be different, all seek to gain the advantage, Thus do they reach the point of absurdity, without any basis or cause. Heaven is high, and Earth is broad: there is nothing which might not exist, 44 Ugly and good, the ten thousand forms: how can we fully explain them? All we should do is brush away the snow and sit down by its side, And day after day invite worthy guests to line up their clear wine goblets. This poem at first seems quite remote from the mountain theme, but Ouyang makes the connection explicit in lines 15-16: "Lined up beside the southern terrace are tens of thousands of peaks;/Never before has such a wonderful craggy mass existed!" Like the "Song of the Stone Screen of Scholar Wu" above, Ouyang takes a strange stone and creates from it another imaginative, primal atmosphere inspired by its colour and form alone. In this case the witty juxtaposition — the pretence that these are full-scale mountains viewed from the terrace — demonstrates the encroachment of wild enormity on a civilized, carefully-planned setting. In order to reach this stage of the poem, Ouyang has taken us back to where he found the rock during the most unpromising time of the year: "at the edge of the cold creek," mud- and moss-covered, emerging and sinking year after year. The local people treat it as unexceptional; only Ouyang realizes the worth of his discovery. He brings it on a slow, difficult journey through the town, back to his pavilion at Secluded Valley. Though . everyone stops their business to look, it is only because they cannot believe anyone would want such a strange, worthless object. This is the first, ignominious, journey of the stone, on bullock carts, past puzzled and contemptuous observers. 80 Ouyang caricatures himself as an enthusiastic magistrate, washing the stone reverentially in the "pure, chill spring within the stony cave." This contrast between himself and the townspeople sets the tone of humorous incongruity, which continues throughout the poem. Thus, having set up the stone in its place of honour, where it assumes the aspect of an immense, craggy mountain range, Ouyang and his guests must now establish a more attractive and inspiring origin that will do justice to its new-found grandeur. To replace the first humble journey, Ouyang invents an enormous mythical journey beginning when the universe was still in chaos: the goddess Niigua, using it to repair the heavens, dyed it "carmine and emerald," hence its colour. Next we come to another crucial moment in the history of the world: the discovery of fire-making. The Ling Creek stone was the base on which the mythical figure "Fire-Producing Master" drilled in order to create sparks for the first time, which apart from being very useful to human development, also pierced the holes and caverns in the stone. Finally, entering the historical period, the stone becomes a symbol of the glorious expansion of the Han dynasty: the Han ambassador discovers the Kunlun Mountains, site of the mythical pillar holding up the heavens, centre of the world. He obtains the "precious jade," and it floats down the Yellow River from the river's supposed source in the Kunlun range. Above we saw the polar opposition of the Yangtze River and Mount Lu; here we encounter an even mightier water-mountain polarity. As the rock floats down into China (the Middle Kingdom), sand and water smooth out the ruts made by Fire-Producing Master's drilling. Though Ouyang attributes the mythical explanations of the stone's three characteristics — colour, holes and smoothness of execution — to different speakers, they clearly emerge from his own fertile imagination and scholarly knowledge. His purpose is to set up these desperately ingenious disputers as foils for his own tongue-tied, but stone-loving, persona in the poem, who reappears in lines 37-38: "Alas for me! I have a mouth but lack the gifts for debating;/Heaving a sigh, all I can do is stroke it with my two hands." It is good enough to appreciate a rare object, Ouyang's silence implies. Instead of 81 inventing tales that "have no basis," why not discover the profound meaning in the stone's true journey from mossy, frosty riverbank to polished garden splendour; from neglect to appreciation. This is a quieter and less dignified, but perhaps deeper, source of meaning in life. Before moving to a contrasting series of poems, it may be instructive to treat this work as Ouyang treated the "Picture of a Climbing Cart," namely, after the imaginative description of its contents, to step up to a more abstract level and view it once more. For the painting, Ouyang gave a series of polar oppositions — "high and low, crooked and straight,/Level and sloped, hidden and visible,/Beautiful and ugly," and so on. 4 1 Seen from this viewpoint, the painting thus becomes a kind of middle stage between the infinite, chaotic variety of the world and the simplifying, classifying tendencies of human beings: although it depicts objects recognizable from our experience of the real world, the painting does not hide its conceptual nature, its ordering of that world. Hence Ouyang's phrase "the ancient painting painted the meaning; it didn't paint the form." 4 2 At the same time, the order is a complex one — nothing exists without its corresponding opposite — hinting at the complexity inherent in nature. "The Great Stone of Ling Creek" also displays many of these kinds of oppositions. There is, most obviously, the major contrast between everyday and mythical worlds exemplified by the two journeys, the mundane and the fantastic, taken by the stone. Although Ouyang's persona implies in this poem that the pursuit of the fantastic is ultimately absurd, his many other works in this vein show that it exists in a polar, complementary opposition to the everyday. Other oppositions in the poem include that of size: the stone seen as a huge mountain range; of values: the local peoples' contempt for the stone versus Ouyang's love for it; also, there are several "battles" or "struggles" of opposing forces in the work: struggles of people to buy rare objects (line 18); a hundred 4 1 See above, lines 12-17 of the poem "Picture of a Climbing Cart." 4 2 Ibid, line 22. 82 battles reducing mountains to valleys,4 3 and transforming the stone from prized possession to neglected, muddy occupant of the riverbank (lines 19-20); "chaotic" struggles (line 22) among Ouyang's guests to give the most heterodox theory on the stone's origins; and there are the "heroic" battles of Han Yu (768-824) and Lu Tong (d.835) in the Mid-Tang, attempting to suppress with words the hundred oddities (lines 39-40). In the end, Ouyang claims, faced with the infinite variety of forms, our struggles are pointless (lines 42-44): perhaps the final opposition in the poem, therefore, is one between energetic activity and silent acceptance. It is the possibility of all these divergent aspects existing together in the world and in art which inspires Ouyang Xiu. So much so that, especially in these more dynamic poems, he goes out of his way to include apparently unrelated topics within a single structure. In this way, he is able to involve the power and breadth of mountains in subjects as diverse as those above: stone screens, a calligraphic rubbing, a painting, a tribute to a retiring friend, and a colourful rock. Faced with oppositions, his mind is inspired to create a structure binding them together. Tranquil Mountains Talk of polar oppositions provides a suitable opportunity to turn now from these dynamic mountain poems to another group of works which display a more tranquil, deeper image of mountain scenery. I am not claiming that these are necessarily more profound, meaningful creations, but only that in them Ouyang emphasizes the depth, rather than the awesome size or force of the mountain. Of particular importance is Ouyang's preoccupation with pure springwater emerging from within the rocks. This preoccupation is evident even in some of the poems above, such as "The Great Stone of Ling Creek," 4 3 A figurative phrase originating in the Shijing If M. ("Book of Songs"), referring to reversals in the social hierarchy. 83 where Ouyang carefully washes the stone in the "pure, chill spring of the stony cavern." The sheer frequency with which this image recurs suggests a symbolic, even spiritual, significance which I will discuss after providing some examples. First, "Cave of the Three Travellers," a relatively early work written in 1037 during Ouyang's first exile in Yi l ing. 4 4 The three travellers of the title were the Tang poets Bai Juyi (772-846) and Yuan Zhen (779-831), along with Bai's younger brother Xingjian. Bai Juyi wrote a prose account of their trip to this cave which provides a useful background for understanding Ouyang's poem, and runs in part as follows: 4 5 On the tenth day of the third month, we met up at Yiling. The next day we rowed back, and saw each other off as far as Xialao Fort. The following day we were about to part but couldn't bear to, so we guided the boat up and down for a long time. Rapt with wine, we heard the sound of a spring between the rocks, so we left the boat and entered the thicket, stepping onto the broken bank. At first we saw rocks, as if piled up and sliced; their strangeness was like arms stretched out or like drooping flags. Next we saw the spring, as if gushing and splashing; its wonder was like suspended white silk or a thread not yet cut off. So we linked up the boats at the foot of the rocks, and led the servants in cutting the weeds and slashing the undergrowth, scaling the heights and using ropes to cross the slippery [sections]; we rested, then continued the ascent, altogether four or five times. Glancing above and peering below, there were absolutely no traces of people; only water and stone close by us, clear and solid, leaping pearls and splashing jade, startling and 4 4 Ji vol. 1,1.4. Also in Xuanji 47-48. 4 5 Quoted in Xuanji 47-48, from Bai's piece San you dongxu H W M fT% in Bai Xiangshan ji (Changsha: Guoxuejiben congshu 1938) vol.2, 26.14. 84 stimulating our eyes and ears. Since it hadn't reached the twilight hour, we loved it and could not leave.4 6 In a short while the mountains in the gorge darkened, the clouds broke up and the moon emerged: the vital essence of light was contained, then emitted, shining and extinguishing simultaneously, dazzling and glittering, so that forms were born in its midst. Though one had an agile tongue, one could not name the forms. Ouyang's poem depicts his own trip to the same place near Yi l ing : 4 7 Oars splash against the clear river current, Leaving my boat, I climb the azure peaks. Seeking the marvellous I brave layered crags, 4 Thus I reach the end of the human realm. Guiding my boat throughout the day, I love the cloudy mountains, But all I see are blues and greys between the far-off mists. Who'd have known there could be a cave within the rosy clouds 8 With milky ducts and cloudy balm congealing the essence of stone?48 Grey cliffs; a single pathway crosses a log bridge, Azure walls a thousand feet high rise up before the entrance. Past people have left appreciations: who did they write them for? 12 The people have gone from the mountain slopes; their traces seem yet more secluded. 4 6 "Twilight hour" is a paraphrase for xushi FJC Pf, which refers to the period between around seven and nine o'clock in the evening. 4 7 For reference, see n.44 above. 4 8 This line probably refers to stalactites and stalagmites, whose mineral-rich drips resembled milk. 85 Dark creepers and green osmanthus are so serene and peaceful, Mountain birds cry "chuck chuck," not startled by their guest. Pines sing at the base of the gully, where wind rises by itself, 16 The moon emerges amidst the forest, coming to shine where I sit. An immortal realm is hard to discover, but easy enough to lose, With mountains twisting and roads turning, few people will find it, Except, perhaps, when blossoms in spring fall at the mouth of the cave, 20 And flow along the Thousand Foot Creek, emerging from the mountains. Though this poem seems less fluent than those discussed above, perhaps due to its early date of composition, it is interesting for at least two reasons. First, like "Lu Mountain Ffigh," Ouyang brings out the contrast between seeing the vague forms of cloudy mountains from a distance and then entering their heart to discover a marvellous new environment: "Who'd have known there could be a cave within the rosy clouds?" (line 7). Secondly, and more unique to this poem, the cave within the clouds, containing milky stalactites and stalagmites, immediately suggests to Ouyang a "realm of immortals" (line 17). Ouyang's emphasis is on the peaceful seclusion of the cave and its environs, hence he avoids any mention of the tremendous roar of gushing water and the exertion of the climb in Bai Juyi's prose account. Yet he is clearly influenced by the former writer's description, for instance line 12, referring to Bai and company: "The people (ren A) have left the mountain slopes; their traces (ji j$i) seem yet more secluded," which comments on Bai's: "Gazing above and peering below, there were absolutely no traces of people (renji A M)" Ouyang thus claims that in a place where people have obviously been before and left traces, the sense of seclusion is greater than in a totally undiscovered place.4 9 4 9 Certainly this observation seems to hold, for instance, in a public place such as a market, which seems oddly empty on non-trading days, or a university campus on a Sunday. 86 The other borrowing from Bai's piece is the appearance of the moon, which spreads an unearthly light over the scene. In Ouyang's lines the moon is just one of several natural objects that appear to welcome him: the creepers and osmanthus are "serene and clear;" mountain birds are "not startled" by him; the pines "sing," and finally the moon "comes to shine" where he sits (lines 13-16). Judging by Ouyang's use of allusion in the poem, the influence of the hidden worlds of Tao Qian (c.365-c.427) and Wang Wei (700-759) is even stronger than that of Bai Juyi. Lines 11-15 contain almost a patchwork of words from Wang's quatrains;50 and the process of discovering a hidden opening between the cliffs — a "realm of immortals" — and then losing it immediately, added to the fallen "blossoms in spring" emerging from a creek at the cave mouth, bear unmistakable traces of Tao's "Source of the Peach Blossom Spring."5 1 One could also call these allusions hidden worlds within a superficially simple poem. Thus, it is not only quietness and serenity that Ouyang conveys, but the sense of a newly-discovered environment, with a depth that comes upon us when we least expect it. To demonstrate that Ouyang's zest for discovering hidden mountain retreats, with obligatory spring waters, was not merely a youthful characteristic, here is an example, probably written between 1055 and 1060, from later in his life: Incidentally, the "past people" who left these traces (lines 11-12) were probably Bai Juyi and his fellow travellers (see Xuanji 48, n.3, for this interpretation). 5 0 1 cannot imagine that Ouyang overlooked the verbal similarity between the following quatrain by Wang, and lines 13-16: "People at ease, the osmanthus blossom falls,/Night is silent, spring mountains empty./The moon emerges, startling mountain birds;/Occasionally they cry in the spring gully." See QTS 4.1302 ("Birds Calling in the Valley," from "Five Miscellaneous Titles on the Clouds and Creeks of Huangfu Peak"). Ouyang's lines contain "osmanthus," "moon emerges," "birds" which are "not startled"(!), and "singing" in the "gully" — which here refers to the sound of pines rather than birds. As for the moon "coming to shine" on Ouyang's seat, we must examine the second couplet of another quatrain by Wang: "In the deep forest, people don't know/The bright moon comes and shines on me" See QTS 4.1301 ("Pavilion Within the Bamboo," from the "Wang Stream Series"). 5 1 See Tao's prose preface and poem in Wang Yao, ed., Tao Yuanmingji (Beijing: Zuojia chubanshe 1956) 92-95. The allusion to Tao is noted in Xuanji 48, n.5. 87 Converging Peaks Pavilion.51 The mountain contours are clear for a hundred //', A new pavilion presses down on their summits. Crowds of peaks gradually descend downwards, 4 From high to low they link themselves together. Peering down, I suspect there's no ground, In the distance, there is only blue-grey mist. At this time, new rain is abundant, 8 In massed valleys vernal springs resound. Forest whispers echo louder in the silence, Mountain light becomes more fresh at evening. The flowers on the precipice: who do they open for? 12 When spring departs, their beauty lasts through summer. Wild birds peer as I become inebriated, Clouds over the creek invite me to stay and sleep. Day reaches evening and a mountain breeze comes, 16 It blows me back to a sober state of mind. Drunk or sober, I rely on things outside, So clouds and birds, it is vain for you to linger. Several motifs from the earlier poem are recognizable here. Ouyang is once more away from the world, this time too high to see the ground — he "suspects there's no ground:/In the distance there's only blue-grey mist." Note the similarity with "Cave of the 5 2 Ji vol. 1, 6.78. Many of the poems in this section of Ouyang's collection, including this one, are not dated, unlike those in ce 1 and 2. This one is placed between dated works of 1055 and 1060. 88 Three Travellers," line 6: "But all I see are blues and greys between the far-off mists," describing looking up from below. There is also the sound of the trees, and a freshening of the wind at evening — in the earlier poem the wind rises by itself, and the emerging moon indicates nightfall. Finally, natural objects again welcome this appreciative visitor: "birds peer" at his drunkenness; clouds urge him to stay and sleep. In this case, however, the evening wind is cool enough to sober him up and acts as a voice of reason, calling him back to reality. There are two main distinctions between this work and the "Cave of the Three Travellers" which make it more representative of Ouyang's mature, tranquil mountain verse. Although he is definitely removed from the everyday world, there is no mention of immortal realms, or of the difficulty of rediscovering such an unearthly scene a