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  • Saturday, January 06, 2007

    Plum Blossom Garden & Poet Lu You

    Plum Blossom Garden is located along the Nan River near Baihuatan Park, Qintai Road and Qingyang Temple in western Chengdu. The Garden includes "a statue of Lu You (1125-1210), a famous and great patriotic poet in the South Song Dynasty" (from park sign).

    "Lu You came from a family in which there were some government officials. At that time the southern Song dynasty was frequently invaded by the Jin Dynasty (金國). When he was one, Kaifeng (汴京 or 開封), the capital of Northern Song dynesty had been captured by the troops of Jin Dynasty. Lu You, who was still an infane, fled with his family. Because of the family influence and social turbulence in childhood, Lu You was committed to save the nation by ousting the Jurchens (女真人). He passed the civil service examination, but was unsuccessful in his official career: he adopted a patriotic stance, advocating the expulsion of the Jurchen (女真) from northern China, but this position was out of tune with the times. He retired to Shaoxing (紹興) in frustration. His wife died in 1197.

    Lu You wrote over ten thousand poems, in both the shi (詩) and ci (詞) forms, plus a number of prose works. In his poetry he continues to articulate the beliefs which cost him his official career, calling for reconquest of the north. Watson identifies these works as part of the legacy of Du Fu (杜甫). Watson compares a second body of work, poems on country life and growing old, to those of Bai Juyi (白居易) and Tao Qian (陶潛). Lu You had written a lot of poem in his whole life, more than 10000, still having 9300 after erasing some of them by Lu You himself." --From Wikipedia, the leading user-contributed encyclopedia.

    The Plum Blossom Park seems an appropriate location to recognize Lu You since he wrote:

    "Plum Flowers" To the Tune of "Fortune Teller"

    By a broken bridge outside the horse relay station
    plum flowers bloom for no one.
    Already it is evening and sad and lonely
    and they are beaten by rainy wind.

    They don't wish to compete for spring,
    though other flowers envy their early blossoming.
    When petals drop to the mud and are ground to dust
    the fragrance remains the same.

    Translated by Tony Barnstone and Chou Ping

    From The Anchor Book of Chinese Poetry Web Companion
    hosted by Whittier College.

    I want to return to Plum Blossom Garden in the early spring when the trees are in full bloom.


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