Art and poetry – Li Bai

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“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 read the poetry of hermits

I read the poetry of hermits.
Pretending to be alone,
absent from this world
that is but a bowl filled with twirling dust.
Happiness is fleeting, love even more so.
Pursuing them, we trap ourselves
going around and around inside the bowl.
Better to just float about
and settle on a flower
just as its bloom retrieves into a bud-
effortlessly, joyfully,
returning to the origin.
I read the poetry of hermits.

Kenza.

Autumn dawn

Autumn dawn,
I sit looking East
breathing as slowly as the sky changes colors.
Suddenly, a light shines from the West
creating a shadow of myself on the wooden floor.
It is the moon.
Appearing silver against a deep blue sky,
it enters the house through the back window,
shining its cold light as the sun rises.
Yin – Yang.
I remain still.

Kenza.

Like Han Shan

The wise Chinese poet Han Shan once wrote that in his secluded dwelling, he could be “a person beyond form.
Away from the “dusty” world, he wrote about mountains peaks and clouds as his neighbors, the echo of the deep river and the flutter of butterflies. He saw trees bloom and turn red, and some die of old age. He felt the mist as it entered his cave, and felt sadness and joy “under his wisteria hat.
He was away from the world but he felt it. He was on the side, alone, yet fully aware of its madness and beauty, enabling him to laugh and shed tears all at the same time.
Don’t you feel sometimes like Han Shan?
I do.

Kenza.

Inspiration: Han Shan 寒山, Chinese Tao and Zen Poet, ca.9th c. Han Shan means “Cold mountain.” I keep a volume of Han Shan’s poetry next to my bed.

I walk in the town’s main square

I walk in the town’s main square and look up at the deep blue sky. White and grey mingle in the clouds, immense as only tropical clouds can be.
Meanwhile people around me are busy talking and taking pictures of themselves.
A child eating sweet bread leaves a mount of crumbs. Joyous birds gather around him, then fly away as the mother starts to gesticulate.
Did anyone notice the majesty of the clouds? Did anyone notice the joy of the birds?
Enthralled by the sights of autumn, I walk unmindful of the crowd.

Kenza.