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THE LIBRARY

OF

THE UNIVERSITY

OF CALIFORNIA

LOS ANGELES

IN MEMORY OF

CARROLL ALCOTT

PRESENTED BY

CARROLL ALCOTT MEMORIAL
LIBRARY FUND COMMITTEE




xrbe Mist)om ot tbe iBast Secies

Edited by

L. CRANMER-BYNG

Dr. S. A. KAPADIA



A LUTE OF JADE



TO

PROFESSOR HERBERT GILES



WISDOM OF THE EAST

A LUTE OF JADE

BEING SELECTIONS FROM THE
CLASSICAL POETS OF CHINA



RENDERED WITH AN INTRODUCTION

BY L. CRANMER-BYNG

AUTHOR or "THE ODES OF CONFUCIUS*'



^'itb lutes of gold and lutes of jade

LiPo



^i.'i






NEW YORK

E. P. DUTTON AND COMPANY
1915



Pnnttd hy Hoiell, Watson <t Viney, Ld., London and AyUAury, SngUmi.



3i77






C8S



^'5



CONTENTS



Introduction

The Ancient Ballads .

Poetry before the T'angs

The Poets of the T'ang Dynasty

A Poet's Emperor

Chinese Verse Form

The Influence of Religion on

Thb Odes of Confucius



Exile



Ch'U Yuan .

The Land of

Wang Sbng-ju

Ch'en TzC-ang

Sung Chih-wen

Kao-Shih .

Impressions of a Traveller
Desolation



Mjsng Hao-jan
The Lost One
A Friend Expected

Ch'ang Ch'ien .

A Night on the Mountain



Chinese Poetry



9
9
12
U
18
22
23

29

32
32

36

36

38

40
40

41

43
43

44

46
46



1495412



CONTENTS



TS'BN-TS'AN.

A Dream of Spring

Tu Fu

The Little Rain .
A Night of Song .
The Recruiting Sergeant
Chants of Autumn



UTo

To the City of Nan-king
Memories with the Dusk Return
An Emperor's Love
On the Banks of Jo-yeh
Thoughts in a Tranquil Night
The Guild of Good-fellowship
Under the Moon .
Drifting . ...



Wang Ch*ang-ling

The Song of the Nenuphars
Tears in the Spring



Chang Chih-ho .

A World Apart .

Chang Jo-hu

T'uNG Han-ching

The Celestial Weaver



Po Cnij-i ....
The Lute Girl .
The Never-ending Wrong
The River and the Leaf
Lake Shang .
The Ruined Home



CONTENTS



A Palace Story .

Peaceful Old Age

Sleeplessness .

The Grass .

Autumn across the Frontier

The Flower Fair .

The Penalties of Rank

The Island of Pines

Springtide .

The Ancient Wind

Li Hua . . .
An Old Battle-field

SstJ-K'UNG T'u .

Return of Spring.
The Colour of Life
Set Free
Fascination .
Tranquil Repose .
The Poet's Vision
Despondent .
Embroideries
Concentration
Motion .

OU-YANQ HSIU OF Lu-LING

Autumn

At the Graveside.

Appendix ,



VAQB

92
92
93
94
94
95
96
97
97
98

100
100

103
105
105
106
106
107
108
108
109
109
110

111
111
113

115



EDITORIAL NOTE



THE object of the editors of this series is a
very definite one. They desire above all
things that, in their humble way, these books
shall be the ambcissadors of good-will and under-
standing between East and West, the old world
of Thought, and the new of Action, In this
endeavour, and in their own sphere, they are but
followers of the highest example in the land.
They are confident that a deeper knowledge of
the great ideals and lofty philosophy of Oriental
thought may help to a revival of that true spirit
of Charity which neither despises nor fears the
nations of another creed and colour.



L. CRANMER-BYNG.
S. A. KAPADIA.



nokthbrook society,
21, Cromwell Road,
London, S.W.



A LUTE OF JADE



INTRODUCTION
The Ancient Ballads

A LITTLE under three hundred years, from
A.D. 618 to 906, the period of the T'ang
dynasty, and the great age of Chinese poetry had
come and gone. Far back in the twiUght of
history, at least 1,700 years before Christ, the
Chinese people sang their songs of kings and feudal
princes good or bad, of husbandry, or now and then
songs with the more personal note of simple joys
and sorrows. All things in these Odes collected
by Confucius belong to the surface of life ; they
are the work of those who easily plough light
furrows, knowing nothing of hidden gold. Only
at rare moments of exaltation or despair do we
hear the lyrical cry rising above the monotone
of dreamlike content. Even the magnificent
outburst at the beginning of this book, in which



10 THE ANCIENT BALLADS

the unhappy woman compares her heart to a
dying moon, is prefaced by vague complaint :



My brothers, although they support
Are angry if I speak of my sadneea.

My sadness is so great,
Nearly all are jealous of me ;
Many calumnies attack me,
And scorning spares me not.
Yet what harm have I done ?
I can show a clear conscience.



me not.



Yes, the conscience is clear and the song is
clear, and so these Uttle streams flow on, shining
in the clear dawn of a golden past to which all
poets and philosophers to come will turn with
wistful eyes. These early ballads of the Chinese
differ in feeling from almost all the ballad htera-
ture of the world. They are ballads of peace,
while those of other nations are so often war-
songs and the remembrances of brave deeds.
Many of them are sung to a refrain. More
especially is this the case with those whose lines^
breathe sadness, where the refrain comes like i
sigh at the end of a i^egret :

Cold from the spring the waters paaa

Over the waving pampas grass,
All night long in dream I lie.
Ah me ! ah me ! to awake and sigh
Sigh for the City of Chow.



THE ANCIENT BALLADS 11

Cold from its source the stream meanders

Darkly down through the oleanders,
All night long in dream I lie,
Ah me ! ah me ! to awake and sigh-
Sigh for the City of Chow.

In another place the refrain urges and impor-
tunes ; it is time for flight :

Cold and keen the north wind blows.
Silent falls the shroud of snows.
You who gave me your heart,
Let us join hands and depart 1

Is this a time for delay t

Now, while we may.

Let us away.

Only the lonely fox is red.
Black but the crow-flight overhead
You who gave me your heart
The chariot creaks to depart.

Is this a time for delay 7

Now, while we may.

Let us away.

Perhaps these Odes may best be compared
with the little craftless figures in an early age of
pottery, when the fragrance of the soil yet lingered
about the rough clay. The maker of the song
was a poet, and knew it not. The maker of the
bowl was an artist, and knew it not. You will
get no finish from either the lines are often
blurred, the design but half fulfilled ; and yet the
effect is not inartistic. It has been well said



12 THE ANCIENT BALLADS

tidat greatness is but another name for inter-
pretation ; and in so far as these nameless workmen
of old interpreted themselves and the times in
which they lived, they have attained enduring
greatness.

Poetry before the T'angs

Following on the Odes, we have much written
in the same style, more often than not by women,
or songs possibly written to be sung by them,
always in a minor key, fraught with sadness, yet
full of quiet resignation and pathos.

It is necessary to mention in passing the
celebrated Ch'ii Yiian (fourth cent. B.C.), minister
and kinsman of a petty kinglet under the Chou
dynasty, whose Li Sao, Uterally translated Falling
into Trouble, is partly autobiography and
partly imagination. His death by drowning gave
rise to the great Dragon-boat Festival, which
was originally a solemn annual search for the
body of the poet.

Soon a great national dynasty arrives whose
Emperors are often patrons of hterature and
occasionally poets as well. The House of Han
.{200 B.c.-A.D. 200) has left its mark upon the
Empire of China, whose people of to-day still
call themselves " Sons of Han." There were
Emperors beloved of literary men, Emperors
beloved of the people, builders of long waterways



POETRY BEFORE THE T'ANGS 13

and glittering palaces, and one great conqueror,
the Emperor Wu Ti, of almost legendary fame.
This was an age of preparation and development
of new forces. Under the Hans, Buddhism first
began to flourish. The effect is seen in the poetry
of the time, especially towards the closing years
of this dynasty. The minds of poets sought
refuge in the ideal world from the illusions of the
senses.

The third century a.d. saw the birth of what
was probably the first hterary club ever known,
the Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove. This
Httle coterie of friends was composed of seven
famous men, who possessed many talents in
common, being poets and musicians, alchemists,
philosophers, and mostly hard drinkers as well.
Their poetry, however, is scarcely memorable.
Only one great name stands between them and
the poets of the T'ang dynasty the name of
T'ao Ch'ien (a.d. 365-427), whose exquisite
allegory " The Peach Blossom Fountain " is
quoted by Professor Giles in his Chinese Literature.
The philosophy of this ancient poet appears to
have been that of Horace. Carpe diem !

" Ah, how short a time it is that we are here !
Why then not set our hearts at rest, ceasing to
trouble whether we remain or go ? What boots
it to wear out the soul with anxious thoughts ?
I want not wealth ; I want not power : heaven
\a beyond my hopes. Then let me stroll through



14 POETRY BEFORE THE T'ANGS

the bright hours as they pass, in my garden
among my flowers, or I will mount the hill and
sing my song, or weave my verse beside the
limpid brook. Thus will I work out my allotted
span, content with the appointments of Fate,
my spirit free from care." ' For him enjoyment
and scarcely happiness is the thing. And al-
though many of his word-pictures are not lacking
in charm or colour, they have but httle signifi-
cance beyond them. They are essentially the
art works of an older school than that of the
Seven Sages. But we must have due regard
for them, for they only miss greatness by a httle,
and remind us of the faint threnodies that stir
in the throats of bird musicians upon the dawn.

The Poets op the T'ang Dynasty

At last the golden age of Chinese poetry is at
hand. Call the roll of these three hundred
eventful years, and all the great masters of song
wiU answer you. This is an age of professional:
poets, whom emperors and statesmen delight to
honour. With the Chinese, verse-making has
always been a second nature. It is one of the
accomphshments which no man of education
would be found lacking. Colonel Cheng-Ki-Tong,
in his delightful book The Chinese Painted by

I Gilee, Chinese Literature, p. 130.



THE POETS OF THE T'ANG DYNASTY 16

Themselves, says : " Poetry has been in China,
as in Greece, the language of the gods. It was
poetry that inculcated laws and maxims ; it
was by the harmony of its lines that traditions
were handed down at a time when memory had
to supply the place of writing ; and it was the
first language of wisdom and of inspiration."
It has been above all the recreation of statesmen
and great officials, a means of escape from the
weariness of pubhc life and the burden of ruUng.
A study of the interminable biographies of Chinese
poets and men of letters would reveal but a few
professional poets, men whose lives were wholly
devoted to their art ; and of these few the T'ang
dynasty can claim nearly all. Yet strange as
it may seem, this matters but httle when the
quaUty of Chinese poetry is considered. The
great men of the age were at once servants of
duty and the lords of life. To them official
routine and the responsibilities of the state were
burdens to be borne along the highway, with
periods of rest and intimate re-union with nature
to cheer the travellers. When the heavy load
was laid aside, song rose naturally from the hps.
Subtly connecting the arts, they were at once
painters and poets, musicians and singers. And
because they were philosophers and seekers after
the beauty that underlies the form of things,
they made the picture express its own significance,
and every song find echo in the souls of those



16 THE POETS OF THE T'ANG DYNASTY

that heard. You will find no tedium of repetition
in all their poetry, no thin vein of thought beaten
out over endless pages. The following extract
from an ancient treatise on the art of poetry
called Ming-Chung sets forth most clearly certain
ideals to be pursued :

" To make a good poem, the subject must be
interesting, and treated in an attractive manner ;
genius must shine throughout the whole, and be
supported by a graceful, brilUant, and subHme
style. The poet ought to traverse, with a rapid
flight, the lofty regions of philosophy, without
deviating from the narrow way of truth. . . .
Good taste will only pardon such digressions as
bring him towards his end, and show it from a
more striking point of view.

" Disappointment must attend him, if he speaks
without speaking to the purpose, or without
describing things with that fire, with that force,
and with that energy which present them to the
mind as a painting does to the eyes. Bold
thought, untiring imagination, softness and har-
mony, make a true poem.

" One must begin with grandeur, paint every-
thing expressed, soften the shades of those which
are of least importance, collect all into one point
of view, and carry the reader thither with a rapid
flight."

Yet when due respect has been paid to this
critic of old time, the fact still remains that



THE POETS OF THE T'ANG DYNASTY 17

concentration and suggestion are the two essen-
tials of Chinese poetry. There is neither IHad
nor Odyssey to be found in the libraries of the
Chinese ; indeed, a favourite feature of their
verse is the " stop short," a poem containing only
four lines, concerning which another critic has
explained that only the words stop, while the
sense goes on. But what a world of meaning is
to be found between four short lines ! Often a
door is opened, a curtain drawn aside, in the
halls of romance, where the reader may roam at
will. With this nation of artists in emotion, the
taste of the tea is a thing of lesser importance ;
it is the aroma which remains and delights.
The poems of the T'angs are full of this subtle
aroma, this suggestive compelhng fragrance
which Mngers when the songs have passed away.
It is as though the ^oHan harps had caught
some strayed wind from an unknown world, and
brought strange messages from peopled stars.

A deep simplicity touching many hidden
springs, a profound regard for the noble uses of
leisure, things which modern critics of hfe have
taught us to despise these are the technique and
the composition and colour of all their work.

Complete surrender to a particular mood until
the mood itself surrenders to the artist, and after-
wards silent ceaseless toil until a form worthy
of its expression has been achieved this is the
method of Li Po and his fellows. And as for



18 THE POETS OP THE T'ANG DYNASTY

leisure, it means life with all its possibilities of
beauty and romance. The artist is ever saying,
" Stay a Httle while ! See, I have captured one
moment from eternity." Yet it is only in the
East that poetry is truly appreciated, by those
to whom leisure to look around them is vital as
the air they breathe. This explains the welcome
given by Chinese Emperors and CaHphs of Bagdad
to all roving minstrels in whose immortaUty, hke
flies in amber, they are caught.

A Poet's Emperor

In the long hst of imperial patrons the name
of the Emperor Ming Huang of the T'ang dynasty
n<.)lds the foremost place. History alone would
ncrt; have immortahzed his memory.^ But romance
is nearer to this Emperor's life than history. He
was not a great ruler, but an artist stifled in
ceremony and lost in statecraft. Yet what
Emperor could escape immortahty who had Tu
Fu and Li Po for contemporaries, Ch'ang-an for
his capital, and T'ai Chen of a thousand songs
to wife ? Poet and sportsman, mystic and man
of this world, a great polo player, and the passion-
ate lover of one beautiful woman whose ill-
starred fate inspired Po Chii-i, the tenderest of
all their singers,' Ming Huang is more to literature

> A.D. 685-762. See p. 73.



A POET'S EMPEROR 19

than to history. Of his life and times the poets
are faithful recorders. Tu Fu in The Old Man of
Shao-Ling leaves us this memory of his peaceful
days passed in the capital, before the ambition
of the Turkic general An Lu-shan had driven his
master into exile in far Ssiich'uan, The poet
himself is speaking in the character of a lonely
old man, wandering slowly down the winding
banks of the river Kjo.

" ' Alas ! ' he murmured, ' they are closed, the
thousand palace doors, mirrored in clear cool
waters. The young willows and the rushes re-
newing with the year for whom will they now
grow green ? '

" Once in the garden of the South waved the
standard of the Emperor.

" All that nature yields was there, vying with
the rarest hues.

" There lived she whom the love of the first
of men had made first among women.

" She who rode in the imperial chariot, in
the excursions on sunny days.

" Before the chariot flashed the bright escort
of maidens armed with bow and arrow.

*' Mounted upon white steeds which pawed
the ground, champing their golden bits.

" Gaily they raised their heads, launching their
arrows into the clouds,

** And, laughing, uttered joyous cries when a
bird fell victim to their skill."



20 A POET'S EMPEROR

In the city of Ch'ang-an, with its triple rows of
guttering walls with their tall towers uprising at
intervals, its seven royal palaces all girdled with
gardens, its wonderful Yen tower nine stories
high, encased in marble, the drum towers and bell
towers, the canals and lakes with their floating
theatres, dwelt Ming Huang and T'ai-Chen.
Within the royal park on the borders of the lake
stood a little pavilion round whose balcony crept
jasmine and magnoha branches scenting the air.
Just underneath flamed a tangle of peonies in
bloom, leaning down to the calm blue waters.
Here in the evening the favourite reclined, watch-
ing the peonies vie with the sunset beyond.
Here the Emperor sent his minister for Li Po,
and here the great lyrist set her mortal beauty
to glow from the scented, flower-haunted balus-
trade immortally through the twilights yet to
come.



What matter if the anow
Blot out the garden ? She shall still recline
Upon the scented balustrade and glow
With spring that thrills her warm blood into wine.



Once, and once alone, the artist in Ming Huang
was merged in the Emperor. In that supreme
crisis of the empire and a human soul, when
the mutinous soldiers were thronging about the
royal tent and clamouring for the blood of the



A POET'S EMPEROR 21

favourite, it was the Emperor who sent her
forth-
lily pale.
Between tall avenues of spears, to die.

Policy, the bane of artists demanded it, and so,
for the sake of a thousand issues and a common
front to the common foe, he placed the love of
his life upon the altar of his patriotism, and went,
a broken-hearted man, into the long exile. From
that moment the Emperor died. History ceases
to take interest in the crownless wanderer. His
return to the place of tragedy, and on to the
capital where the deserted palace awaits him
with its memories, his endless seeking for the soul
of his beloved, her discovery by the priest of
Tao in that island of P'eng Lai where

gaily coloured towers
Rise up like rainbow clouds, and many gentle
And beautiful Immortals pass their days in peace,

her message to her lover with its splendid
triumphant note of faith foretelling their reunion
at the last in fine, the story of their love with the
grave between them is due to the genius of Po
Chii-i. And to all poets coming after, these two
lovers have been types of romantic and mystic
love between man and woman. Through them
the symbols of the mandarin duck and drake.



22 A POET'S EMPEROR

the one- winged birds, the tree whose boughs are
interwoven, are revealed. They are the earthly-
counterparts of the heavenly lovers, the Cow-
herd and the Spinning-maid in the constellations
of Lyra and Aquila. To them Chinese poetry
owes some of its finest inspirations, and at least
two of its greatest singers, Tu Fu and Li Po.

Chinese Verse Form

In passing it is necessary to refer to the
structure of Chinese verse, which, difficult as it
is to grasp and differing in particulars from our
European ideas of technique, has considerable
interest for the student of verse form and con-
struction.

The favourite metres of the T'ang poets were
in lines of five or seven syllables. There is no
fixed rule as regards the length of a poem, but,
generally speaking, they were composed of four,
eight, twelve, or sixteen lines. Only the even
lines rhyme, except in the four-line or stop-short
poem, when the first line often rhymes with the
second and fourth, curiously recalHng the Rubaiyat
form of the Persian poets. There is also a break
or caesura which in five-syllable verses falls after
the second syllable and in seven-syllable verses
after the fourth. The Chinese also make use of
two kinds of tone in their poetry, the Ping or
even, and the Tsze or obHque.



CHINESE VERSE FORM 23

The even tone has two variations differing
from each other only in pitch ; the obhque tone
has -three variations, known as " Rising, Sinking,
and Entering." In a seven-syllable verse the
odd syllables can have any tone ; as regards the
even syllables, when the second syllable is even,
then the fourth is obhque, and the sixth even.
Furthermore, hnes two and three, four and five,
six and seven, have the same tones on the even
syllables. The origin of the Chinese tone is not
a poetical one, but is undoubtedly due to the
necessity of having some distinguishing method
of accentuation in a language which only contains
about four hundred different sounds.

The Influence of Religion on Chinese
Poetry

To Confucius, as has been already stated, is
due that groundwork of Chinese poetry the
Odes. But the master gave his fellow country-
men an ethical system based upon sound common
sense, and a deep knowledge of their customs
and characteristics. There is little in the Con-
fucian classics to inspire a poet, and we must
turn to Buddhism and the mystical philosophy of
Lao Tzu for any source of spiritual inspiration
from which the poets have drawn. Buddhism
and Taoism are sisters. Their parents are self-
observance and the Law. Both are quietists,



24 THE INFLUENCE OF RELIGION

yet in this respect they differ, that the former
is the grey quietist, the latter the pearl. The
neutral tint is better adapted to the sister in whose
eyes all things are Maya illusion. The shimmer
of pearl belongs of right to her whose soul reflects
the colour and quiet radiance of a thousand
dreams. Compassion urged the one, the love of
harmony led the other. How near they were
akin ! how far apart they have wandered !
Yet there has always been this essential difference
between them, that while the Buddhist regards
the senses as windows looking out upon unreality
and mirage, to the Taoist they are doors through
which the freed soul rushes to mingle with the
colours and tones and contours of the universe.
Both Buddha and Lao Tzu are poets, one hstening
to the rhythm of infinite sorrow, one to the
rhythm of infinite joy. Neither knows anything
of reward at the hands of men or angels. The
teaching of the Semitic religions, " Do good to
others that you may benefit at their hands,"
does not occur in their pages, nor any hints of
sensuous delights hereafter. In all the great
Buddhist poems, of which the Shu Hsing Tsan
Ching is the best example, there is the same
deep sadness, the haunting sorrow of doom. To
look on beautiful things is only to feel more
poignantly the passing of bright days, and the
time when the petals must leave the rose. The
form of desire hides within it the seeds of decay.



ON CHINESE POETRY 26

.h^..^'^'''^^'' '' ^^^^^d exceedingly beautiful

of their steadfast heartT|;;^^, n"n, ""t "'"
to guard yourselves? By relrd.W h '/""

toil AT- ,'. ^^^ ''"'^ disentangled hair a,

mth'^X sho^M^'' "^"'^ '"^"^ Then ',ow
amorouXu^T'th^rshrrl ''"l ^'S"''^'''

impurity, thrunSri Co^rdTrrT- '""^

the reality, all desires die out "'"^"""^ ^^"'^

How diflerent is this meeting of beauty and

r Sacred Book, o/ ,ht Bm, vol. xix. pp. 253-4.



26 THE INFLUENCE OF RELIGION

Buddhism from the meeting of Ssii-K'ung T'u, the
great Taoist poet, with an unknown girl!

Gathering the water-plants

From the wild luxuriance of spring.

Away in the depth of a wild valley

Anon, I see a lovely girl.

With green leaves the peach-trees are loaded.

The breeze blows gently along the stream.

Willows shade the winding pathj

Darting orioles collect in groups.

Eagerly I press forward

As the reahty grows upon me. . .

'Tis the eternal theme,

Which, though old, is ever new.*

Here is reaUty emerging from the unreal, spring
renewing, love and beauty triumphant over death
and decay. The girl is the central type and


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