Wise poet, Su Shi

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During the Song dynasty (960-1279 AD), China experienced a flourishing period in arts, culture and poetry. The wise, multi-talented Su Shi, 蘇軾, (1037-1101 AD) was a poet, calligrapher, painter, writer and politician, who wrote many exquisite poems that deserve attention and close analysis. However, today I want to share with you a small excerpt from one of his articles, that contains the essence of Middle Ages Chinese wisdom on destiny and the infinite beauty of nature.

“In this universe everything has its rightful owner. If something does not belong to you then you shall not even have a bit of it. However, the fresh breeze over the rivers and the bright moon above the mountains are exceptions. If you can hear it, it is a sound for you. If you can see it, it is a sight for you. It never ends and it is never exhausted. It is the infinite treasure that nature has for both of us to enjoy.”

16 thoughts on “Wise poet, Su Shi

  1. He is my favorite Sung Dynasty poet and I have posted many of his poems on my blog but under his pen name: Su Tung-p’o. I actually keep a book of his poetry translated by Burton Watson on my desk and turn to it often. Thank you, though, for sharing that bit of philosophy of his.

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    • I learned about him during my Chinese history course in university. I like his poems as well. However, I enjoy a bit more the poems of Li Qingzhao. This passage from one of Su Shi’s articles was a serendipity. I heard it translated into English by a Chinese lady in her podcast about myths and legends of China.

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      • Yes, she is China’s most famous female poet and deservedly so. Su Tung-p’o, though, speaks to me more than any of the others but there are so many great poets from both the Sung & Tang dynasties that it is hard to not be moved by them all.

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  2. Quite beautiful lines there In this universe everything has its rightful owner. If something does not belong to you then you shall not even have a bit of it. However, the fresh breeze over the rivers and the bright moon above the mountains are exceptions. If you can hear it, it is a sound for you. If you can see it, it is a sight for you. It never ends and it is never exhausted. It is the infinite treasure that nature has for both of us to enjoy.”

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    • Indeed, very beautiful! But sometimes humans upset the balance of nature and life, they exploit, steal and take things that were not meant for them or more than they need. And then, something comes along and shows us, humans, that we are not all powerful and we cannot use and dispose of everything as we want. We are in fact fragile and small and our strength is kindness, unity, empathy,care and respect for nature and each other.

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      • yes, we are really… these days it is only news I can see anywhere, I hope we all just get out of it, learn lessons and never do the same, Actually I am also working on my poem on this quarantine, I will be truly honored we you suggest me on that letter, you know we all have different perspectives to see the world.

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