“Li Bai chanting poetry” by Laing Kai, China XIIIth c. (Southern Song Dynasty) – via Tokyo National Museum
An ink painting on paper remarkable for its simplicity in technic made with just a few brush strokes; and in the portrayal of Li Bai (701-762), one of the great Chinese poets of the Tang Dynasty, known for his unencumbered use of words and depth of poetry.
The robe seems to blend with the background and a faint shadow suggest that Li Bai is walking during the evening. The painting has no elaborate details and yet we can feel the serenity of both the poet and the setting.
There is one poem by Li Bai that has always moved me and that with time, I have come to understand:
“The birds have vanished down the sky,
and now the last cloud drains away.
We sit together, the mountain and I,
until only the mountain remains.”
I was once a colourful little fish in a river.
I am now a drop in the ocean
where the fish and the river flow.
川 – kawa means “river” or “flow” in Japanese. By flow, it is meant the one from the clouds to the river to the sea. It is often used as a model for life whereby one tries to live in harmony with circunstances (people, work, thoughts, words, deeds, etc.).
« Si les temps revenaient, les temps qui sont venus!
– Car l’Homme a fini, l’Homme a joué tous les rôles!
Au grand jour, fatigué de briser des idoles,
Il ressuscitera, libre de tous ses Dieux,
Et, comme il est du ciel, il scrutera les cieux!
L’idéal, la pensée invincible, éternelle,
Tout le dieu qui vit, sous son argile charnelle,
Montera, montera, brûlera sous son front!
Et quand tu le verras sonder tout l’horizon,
Contempteur des vieux jougs, libre de toute crainte,
Tu viendras lui donner la rédemption sainte!
Splendide, radieuse, au sein des grandes mers
Tu surgiras, jetant sur le vaste Univers
L’Amour infini dans un infini sourire!
Le Monde vibrera comme une immense lyre
Dans le frémissement d’un immense baiser !
-Le Monde a soif d’amour : tu viendras l’apaiser. »
Arthur Rimbaud (1854-1891)
It is cold.
The flame of the candle shivers in the dark.
The Japanese incense releases its delicate fragrance.
I tighten the châle around my shoulders.
The window frames a dark sky.
The moon is a thin bowl,
and Venus shines beside it.
It is very quiet,
the moment utterly serene.
I anticipate nothing.
Inspirations: morning meditation, silence.
Early this morning, the fragrant breeze of the rose wrapped itself around your heart.
It loosened the constraints of sadness along with all the knots life had tied.
The rose fell in love with you. It happens all the time.
To read a few lines each day like a cat lapping milk, nourishing the soul.
Words of the ancients or the new, all wise poets bequeathing us with words like a soothing pearl necklace.
But the world threw a spear at slowness. Nowadays, few read the words of the wise.
Maybe this year, instead of giving trinkets, give a book of poetry. Wether it is read or used as a door stop, it does not matter; the very presence of the book will shine bright in the house of your friend.
Inspiration: slowness and reading poetry.
the feel of the cold glass on my forehead
when I lean against the window on a rainy afternoon.
Inspiration: Autumn rain.