Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, ABOVE THE RIVER, HEAVY ON THE HEART, by SU SHIH



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ABOVE THE RIVER, HEAVY ON THE HEART, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Above the river, heavy on the heart, thousandfold hills
Last Line: My hill friends will soon be sending poems to call me home.
Alternate Author Name(s): Su Dongpo; Tzu-chan; Su Tung-p'o; Su Shi
Variant Title(s): Above The River, Heavy On The Heart (1088)
Subject(s): Heaven; Mountains; Paintings And Painters; Yangzi River, China; Paradise; Hills; Downs (great Britain)


WRITTEN on a painting entitled "Misty Yangtze and Folded Hills" in the
collection of Wang Ting-kuo.

Above the river, heavy on the heart, thousand-fold hills:
layers of green floating in the sky like mist.
Mountains? clouds? too far away to tell
till clouds part, mist scatters, on mountains that remain.
Then I see, in gorge cliffs, black-green clefts
where a hundred waterfalls leap from the sky,
threading woods, tangling rocks, lost and seen again,
falling to valley mouths to feed swift streams.
Where the river broadens, mountains part, foothill forests end,
a small bridge, a country store set against the slope:
now and then travelers pass beyond tall trees;
a fishing boat – one speck where the river swallows the sky.
Tell me, where did you get this painting
sketched with these clean and certain strokes?
I didn't know the world had such places –
I'll go at once and buy some land!
Perhaps you've never seen those hidden spots
near Wu-ch'ang and Fan-k'ou, where I lived five years –
spring wind shook the river and sky was everywhere;
evening clouds rolled back the rain on gentle mountains;
from scarlet maples, crows flapped down to keep the boatman company;
from tall pines, snow tumbled, startling his drunken sleep.
The peach flowers, the stream are in the world of men!
Wu-ling is not for immortals only –
rivers, hills, clean and empty: I live in city dust,
and though roads go there, they're not for me.
I give back your picture and sigh three sighs;
my hill friends will soon be sending poems to call me home.





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