night clouds began to settle in…

“He fell asleep, and this is what he dreamed.

“The long golden rays seemed to turn into the bars of a cage. Yes, he was in a huge cage! He tried frantically to get out! He beat against the bars! Then he saw what looked like the roots of trees, and brown tree trunks, a grove all around the cage. But the trees moved and stepped about, and, looking up the trunks, instead of leaves he saw feathers, and still farther, sharp beaks, and then bright eyes looking at him. They were birds!

“What he had thought were the roots of trees were their claws, and the trunks of the trees were their legs. But what enormous birds! They were as big as men, while he was as small as a bird.

“‘Let me out!’ he shouted. ‘Don’t you know I am the Emperor, and every one must obey me? Let me out, I say!’

“‘Ah, he is beginning to sing,'” said one bird to another.

“‘Not a very musical song. Too shrill by far! Take my advice, wring his neck and roast him. He would make a tender, juicy morsel for our supper.’

“‘Oh, let me out! Please, please let me out!’ cried the poor Little Emperor in terror.

“He is singing more sweetly now,” remarked one of the birds. 

“‘Too loud! Quite ear-splitting!’ said a lady bird, fluffing out her breast feathers and lifting her wings to show how sensitive she was.

“‘If he were mine I should pluck him. His little yellow silk trousers would line my nest so softly.’

“‘Oh, please, please set me free!’

“‘Really, his song is growing quite charming! But one can’t stand listening to it all day.’

“And with a great whir and flap and rustle of wings the birds flew away and left him in his cage, alone.

“He called for help and threw himself against the bars until he was exhausted. Then bruised, panting, his heart nearly breaking out of his body, he lay on the floor of the cage. Finally, growing hungry and thirsty, he looked in his seed and water cups, drank a little lukewarm water, and ate a dry bread crumb. Now and then birds came and looked at him. Some of them tried to catch his pigtail with their beaks or claws.

“Next day the Little Emperor was thoughtful. Could it be, he wondered, that a little bird’s nest was as dear to it as his own bed with its rainbow coverlets and its moon and stars was to him? That a little bird liked ripe berries and cold brook water as much as he liked ripe peaches and tea with jasmine flowers? That a little bird was as frightened when he tried to catch its tail in his fingers as he was when the birds tried to catch his pigtail?

“And then he thought of how he had felt when the lady bird had wanted his pantaloons to line her nest, and, hot with shame, he remembered his glistening jewel-bright blue cloak made of thousands of kingfishers’ feathers. It had made him miserable to think of their taking his clothes, but suppose his clothes grew on him as their feathers did on them? How would he have felt then, hearing the bird say: “I should pluck him. His little silk trousers would line my nest so softly’?”

“He went to bed thinking about his little brown bird, and before he shut his eyes he made up his mind to set it free in the morning.

“Then he fell asleep, and once again he dreamed that he was in the golden cage.

“Whir-rr! One of the great birds flew down by the cage door. With his claw he unfastened it – opened it! 

“Oh, how exciting! The Little Emperor tore out, so afraid he would be stopped and put back in the cage!

“Oh, how he ran across the room and through the open door! Free! He was free! Tears rushed to his eyes, and his heart felt as if it would burst with happiness.

“But it was winter…”

cited: The Dream Coach
by Anne Parrish, 1888-1957 and Dillwyn Parrish, 1894-1941.
New York: The Macmillan company, 1924. Copyright not renewed. 

68th day of self isolation 

Skyscape photograph Nikon D750 f/8 1/400s 135 mm 400 ISO edited: Capture One 20

lie without waking…

…In infinite succession light and darkness shift,

And years vanish like the morning dew.

Man’s life is like a sojourning,

His longevity lacks the firmness of stone and metal.

For ever it has been that mourners in their turn were mourned,

Saint and Sage,—all alike are trapped.

Seeking by food to obtain Immortality

Many have been the dupe of strange drugs.

Better far to drink good wine

And clothe our bodies in robes of satin and silk. …

The above 12th poem is from a series known as the Nineteen Pieces of Old Poetry. Some have been attributed to Mei Shēng (first century b.c.), and one to Fu I (first century a.d.). They are manifestly not all by the same hand nor of the same date. Internal evidence shows that No. 3 at least was written after the date of Mei Shēng’s death. These poems had an enormous influence on all subsequent poetry, and many of the habitual clichés of Chinese verse are taken from them.

cited: Trans: Arthur Waley, A hundred and Seventy Chinese Poems. Project Gutenberg. This ebook is made available at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg of Australia License which may be viewed online at http://gutenberg.net.au/license.html.

66th day of self isolation 

Skyscape photograph Nikon D750 f/8 1/25s 32 mm 400 ISO edited: Capture One 20 and Photoshop

the man who dreamed of fairies*

There was once a man who dreamt he went to Heaven:

His dream-body soared aloft through space.

He rode on the back of a white-plumed crane,

And was led on his flight by two crimson banners.

Whirring of wings and flapping of coat tails!

Jade bells suddenly all a-tinkle!

Half way to Heaven, he looked down beneath him,

Down on the dark turmoil of the World.

Gradually he lost the place of his native town…

~Po Chü

cited: Trans: Arthur Waley, A hundred and Seventy Chinese Poems. Project Gutenberg. This ebook is made available at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg of Australia License which may be viewed online at http://gutenberg.net.au/license.html.

65th day of self isolation 

Skyscape photograph Nikon D750 f/8 1/80s 92 mm 400 ISO edited: Capture One 20

*Po Chü’s (AD 772-846) poem is an attack on the Emperor Hsien-tsung, a.d. 806-820, who “was devoted to magic.” A Taoist wizard told him that herbs of longevity grew near the city of T’ai-chou. The Emperor at once appointed him prefect of the place, “pour lui permettre d’herboriser plus à son aise” (Wieger, Textes III, 1723). When the censors protested, the Emperor replied: “The ruin of a single district would be a small price to pay, if it could procure longevity for the Lord of Men.”

day’s end

sunset–
tears shine in a frog’s eyes
too

~Issa (cited: www.haikuguy.com)

David G. Lanoue writes

The most important word in this haiku is “too” (mo). The frog’s eyes look shiny, as if filled with tears. The “too” suggests someone else in the scene, and that someone else has to be Issa. Why are there tears in the poet’s eyes? He doesn’t say. Instead, he shows us, simply, a sunset and a frog. The day is over. Is the frog sad about this? Regretful? And what if the whole scene is symbolic, sunset suggesting death and the day that is almost gone, a lifetime? Then, the frog’s and Issa’s tears become even more significant and poignant. Together they weep for what has been and will never be again. 

64th day of self isolation

Skyscape photograph Nikon D750 f/8 1/100s 190 mm 400 ISO edited: Capture One 20 & Photoshop

a ladder of dark clouds

XV. 2. A Dream of T’ien-mu Mountain

(Part of a Poem in Irregular Metre.)

On through the night I flew, high over the Mirror Lake. The lake-moon cast my shadow on the waves and travelled with me to the stream of Shan. The Lord Hsieh’s* lodging-place was still there. The blue waters rippled; the cry of the apes was shrill. I shod my feet with the shoes of the Lord Hsieh and “climbed to Heaven on a ladder of dark clouds.”** Half-way up, I saw the unrisen sun hiding behind the sea and heard the Cock of Heaven crowing in the sky. By a thousand broken paths I twisted and turned from crag to crag. My eyes grew dim. I clutched at the rocks, and all was dark.

The roaring of bears and the singing of dragons echoed amid the stones and streams. The darkness of deep woods made me afraid. I trembled at the storied cliffs.

The clouds hung dark, as though they would rain; the air was dim with the spray of rushing waters.

Lightning flashed: thunder roared. Peaks and ridges tottered and broke. Suddenly the walls of the hollow where I stood sundered with a crash, and I looked down on a bottomless void of blue, where the sun and moon gleamed on a terrace of silver and gold.

A host of Beings descended—Cloud-spirits, whose coats were made of rainbow and the horses they rode on were the winds.

Skyscape photography at sunset on 63rd day of self isolation Nikon D750 f/8 1/100s 190 mm 400 ISO edited: Capture One 20 & Photoshop

cited:

The Poet Li Po, by Arthur Waley and Bai Li The Project Gutenberg ebook

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at http://www.gutenberg.org

Note:

*Hsieh Ling-yün (circa a.d. 400) was a famous mountain-climber who invented special mountain-climbing shoes.

**A quotation from one of Hsieh’s poems.

the distant parting

the distant parting

III. 1. The Distant Parting

“Long ago there were two queens* called Huang and Ying. And they stood on the shores of the Hsiao-hsiang, to the south of Lake Tung-t’ing. Their sorrow was deep as the waters of the Lake that go straight down a thousand miles. Dark clouds blackened the sun. Shōjō** howled in the mist and ghosts whistled in the rain. The queens said, ‘Though we speak of it we cannot mend it. High Heaven is secretly afraid to shine on our loyalty. But the thunder crashes and bellows its anger, that while Yao and Shun are here they should also be crowning Yü. When a prince loses his servants, the dragon turns into a minnow. When power goes to slaves, mice change to tigers.

“’Some say that Yao is shackled and hidden away, and that Shun has died in the fields.

“’But the Nine Hills of Deceit stand there in a row, each like each; and which of them covers the lonely bones of the Double-eyed One, our Master?’

“So the royal ladies wept, standing amid yellow clouds. Their tears followed the winds and waves, that never return. And while they wept, they looked out into the distance and saw the deep mountain of Tsang-wu.

“’The mountain of Tsang-wu shall fall and the waters of the Hsiang shall cease, sooner than the marks of our tears shall fade from these bamboo-leaves.’”

Cited:

The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Poet Li Po, by Arthur Waley and Bai Li This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at http://www.gutenberg.org

Notes:

*These queens were the daughters of the Emperor Yao, who gave them in marriage to Shun, and abdicated in his favour. Shun’s ministers conspired against him and set “the Great Yü” on the throne. A legend says that the spots on the bamboo-leaves which grow on the Hsiang River were caused by the tears of these two queens

**A kind of demon-monkey

Skyscape photography at sunset on 62nd day of self isolation – Nikon D750 f/8 1/640 90mm 400 ISO edited Capture One 20

lens-artists photo challenge: cropping the shot

Generally my editing begins with cropping an image with a “focus” on the points of interest using a crop tool set for either a golden ratio, rectangular, or fibonacci spiral grid. The times when there is a pesky “thing” poking in from the edge(s) which somehow was either ignored or not seen in the camera lens, I will either crop or use a software program to removed the unwanted object.

I like the composition of the first image so kept the image at the original aspect ratio and cropped with a fibonacci spiral grid.

The above image was cropped with a ratio of 6×7 which seemed to invite me to move from a stilled contemplative mood to a sense of an ocean’s dynamic energy.

The monochrome cloud images were created with a Nikon D750 (f/8 1/500s 190mm 400 ISO ) and edited in Silver Efex Pro 2.

This week’s Lens-Artists photo challenge is offered by Patti who discussed the photo editing technique and benefits of cropping the shot followed by, “Show us how cropping helped to improve an image and create a desired effect. Include the shot ‘before’ and ‘after’ so we can see the difference.

impermanence with…Dr Seuss

Who could’ve imagined fifty-nine days and still not free

to roam and play like a goose on the loose

or camp in a forest to simply see

a grumpy fox named bruce, yell, “truce!”

or hear tummies giggling with glee

when we deduce the orange lizard a woose

or bake a cake for afternoon tea

without an obtuse centipede’s truce

or romp with friends across sky’s blue sea

“no! not bed time, zeus – we’re playing Dr. Seuss

impermanence at sunset…Nikon D750 f/8 1/160s – 1/400s 116mm 400 ISO

edited: Capture One 20 and Photoshop

sunset on the … 58th day

sunset

“‘…who is the founder of the database in the PeaceKeeper Corps?’…

“‘The database is a unique algorithm created by Xu Bin. …’

“‘Is he some kind of charlatan?’

“‘Xu Bin is also known as Youde. He was once the clerk of the National Treasury. He has an incredible memory and he was one of the first officials that was transferred to the Peacekeeper Corps. … He is absurd and ridiculous. He never associates himself with others or the outside world. He focused only on mathematics. He said that only numbers can reveal the truth in this world…’

“‘Can all the things you said prove that you have a clear view of Xu Bin? Can the achievements and opinions on a person that are passed from one to another show the true colors of the man? Can the comments of others show the true colors of the man? Can the later generations get his true color right by guessing through his biography with the historical data or by conjecturing his face through a painter? When it boils down to it, everything depends on how the audience wants to see it and how the writer wants to write it.’

“‘Xu Bin is low-key and introverted by nature. He never expresses himself through poetry. So, we can’t find much information about him.’

“‘Poems that were written are just the thoughts and feelings for one fleeting moment. Will you be able to guess the motives and reasons behind a person’s story through a few isolated words and phrases?…'”

Cited: The Longest Day in Chang’an, Directed by Cao Dun. Written by: Paw Studio. episode 14.

photograph Metadata: Nikon D750 f/8 1/13s 38mm 400 ISO

photograph edited: Capture One 20 and Photoshop

The Longest Day in Chang’an OST

sunset 56 days

“Can ye drink of the cup that I drink of?”

sunset

“… The unpardonable sin of the supreme power is that it is supreme. I do not curse you for being cruel. I do not curse you (though I might) for being kind. I curse you for being safe! You sit in your chairs of stone, and have never come down from them. You are the seven angels of heaven, and you have had no troubles. Oh, I could forgive you everything, you that rule all mankind, if I could feel for once that you had suffered for one hour a real agony such as I—”
Syme sprang to his feet, shaking from head to foot.
“I see everything,” he cried, “everything that there is. Why does each thing on the earth war against each other thing? Why does each small thing in the world have to fight against the world itself? Why does a fly have to fight the whole universe? Why does a dandelion have to fight the whole universe? For the same reason that I had to be alone in the dreadful Council of the Days. So that each thing that obeys law may have the glory and isolation of the anarchist. So that each man fighting for order may be as brave and good a man as the dynamiter. So that the real lie of Satan may be flung back in the face of this blasphemer, so that by tears and torture we may earn the right to say to this man, ‘You lie!’ No agonies can be too great to buy the right to say to this accuser, ‘We also have suffered.’
“It is not true that we have never been broken. We have been broken upon the wheel. It is not true that we have never descended from these thrones. We have descended into hell. We were complaining of unforgettable miseries even at the very moment when this man entered insolently to accuse us of happiness. I repel the slander; we have not been happy. I can answer for every one of the great guards of Law whom he has accused. At least—”
He had turned his eyes so as to see suddenly the great face of Sunday, which wore a strange smile.
“Have you,” he cried in a dreadful voice, “have you ever suffered?”
As he gazed, the great face grew to an awful size, grew larger than the colossal mask of Memnon, which had made him scream as a child. It grew larger and larger, filling the whole sky; then everything went black. Only in the blackness before it entirely destroyed his brain he seemed to hear a distant voice saying a commonplace text that he had heard somewhere, “Can ye drink of the cup that I drink of?”

cited: G.K. Chesterton, The Man Who Was Thursday (The Project Gutenberg Ebook)

Note: “This ebook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms the Project Gutenberg License included with this ebook or online at www.gutenberg.org.”

Photograph created with Nikon D750 f/89 1/40s 68mm 400 ISO and edited with Capture One 20