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

our heroes within – 57th day

Our heroes must be summoned from within. It’s up to us to put them to work and to learn how to save ourselves. 

sunset

“People …like the idea of someone with special powers watching over us, ready to intervene in a crisis and keep us safe from dark forces. The Buddha…spoke of ‘the two bright qualities [that] protect the world’ (dve sukka dhamma lokam palenti—Anguttara Nikaya 2.9). These are Hiri, or conscience, and Ottappa, our respect for others. …

“Today, …the greatest dangers we face now erupt from within our own hearts: human greed, hatred, and delusion, the arch villains that cause so many real-world problems. Greed, the powerful impulse to snatch whatever it can, will take even life itself from the defenseless. Hatred drives us to do unspeakable things to those we view as other. And delusion, so willingly embraced, smothers any insight that might arise about the danger we’re in or the harm we may do. The twin guardians are the crucial allies we have to foil their plots.

“The first hero, Hiri, can be thought of as conscience or self-respect. She… flies into our mental world at the moment when we are considering doing something that we know deep down to be wrong. Hiri is our personal sense of ethical integrity, our moral compass, our intuitive understanding of what is right and wrong, what’s appropriate and what isn’t. She is not a severe critic but a soft, caring voice whispering in our ear and guiding us through our lives with courage and compassion. She saves us from the demons lurking within and stands beside us when we say, ‘No, that is just not right. I will not do it (or say it or think it).’

“Her intrepid ally Ottappa is the elemental force of caring for others and respecting their concerns. It appears on the scene when we’re tempted to do something that is against the laws of propriety, is outside the social norm, or would be condemned by the people we respect. Ottappa draws its strength from the fact that we are social creatures who belong to a family or community, and that our actions are rooted in and accountable to a larger collective order.

“…The Buddha said [Hiri and Ottappa] guard the world, protecting it from getting broken by the onslaught of the worst parts of ourselves. Without them people could act like beasts, ravaging even their own mothers. We all know what atrocities human beings are capable of. For so many victims, Hiri and Ottappa do not always show up in time, held at bay by their nemeses, Ahiri (lack of conscience) and Anottappa (lack of respect). These two anti-heroes are present every time a harmful, cruel, or ignorant deed is done, blocking out the benevolent effects of conscience and respect.

“Fortunately Hiri and Ottappa have other friends, including Sati, or mindfulness, who goes first into every fray and summons the team into action. Sati is conscious awareness of what is happening right now, and Ahiri and Anottappa can only function when such awareness is absent. When people do harm to themselves and others, they are often not aware of what they are doing. They are conscious enough to act, but not conscious enough to be aware of the quality of their actions or of their consequences. Whenever a person musters even a degree of mindfulness, conscience and respect arrive there too, helping them do, say, and think what is helpful rather than what is harmful…”

cited: Andrew Olendzik, Guardians of the World Tricycle, Fall 2017

Nikon D750 f/8 1/50s 145mm 400 ISO

edited in Capture One 20 and Photoshop