Dawn Walk After Rain

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Milo river in Hunan

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Dawn Walk After Rain
        After Rain, Dawn Walk Alone 
        To Stupid Stream's North Pool

        Liu Zongyuan 773-819

Reluctant clouds melt over river island,
Dawn sun brightens country village.
Towering trees overlook clear pond,
Rising wind surprises yesterday's rain.
My nature prefers this idleness,
        by chance 
                we meet here together!
Yǔ Hòu Xiǎoxíng Dú Zhì Yúxī Běichí
Liǔ Zōngyuán 773-819

Sù yún sǎn zhōu zhǔ,
Xiǎo rì míng cūn wū;
Gāo shù lín qīng chí,
Fēng jīng yè lái yǔ
Yǔ xīn shì wú shì,
Ǒu cǐ chéng bīn zhǔ.
Translator: Dongbo 東波

This poem was written during Liu Zongyuan's first exile to Yongzhou in southern Hunan Province. As Liam Kelley writes in Beyond The Bronze Pillars, "What is unique about Liu Zongyuan is that he composed several prose pieces during his exile. One, his 'Preface to Poems About Stupid Creek' (Yuxi shi xu) is important for understanding Nguyan Du's verse 'Liu Zihou's Old Residence In Yongzhou'. (Vietnamese envoy passing through Yongzhou enroute to Peking in the early 19th century) In that preface Liu explained that his own stupidity was responsible for his banishment. And as Liu looked around Yongzhou he saw an environment that mirrored his inner sense of dejection.

There was for instance, a waterway that Liu named 'Stupid Creek'. Although this was an insulting name (sic. poor creek!), Liu Zhongyuan actually identified closely with the creek. It was, he explained, too shallow to use for irrigation, and it had too many stones in it to allow for navigation. Just like Liu Zongyuan, Stupid Creek was of no use to society."

Translation from Liam Kelley's fascinating study of Vietnamese envoy poetry, Beyond the Bronze Pillars, Envoy Poetry And The Sino-Vietnamese Relationship, University of Hawaii Press, 2005

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