Spring South of the River

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Bell tower of the 棲霞寺 Cloud Lodging Temple in Nanjing

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Spring South of the River
        Du Mu 803-852

For miles and miles
        warblers twitter
                flickering red 
                        in green trees,
While by riverside villages
        and on mountain walls
                wineshop flags flap.
Four hundred and eighty temples
        from the Southern Dynasties,
A bell toll
        in the misty rain
                        over their coutyards.
Jiāngnán Chūn Juéjù
Dù Mù 803-852

Qiānlǐ yīng tí lǜ yìnghóng,
Shuǐ cūn shān guō jiǔqí fēng.
Nánqiáo xìbǎibāshí sì,
Duōshao lóu tái yānyǔ zhōng.

Translator: Dongbo 東波

This poem was written while Du Mu was traveling in 金陵 Jinling, present day 南京 Nanjing. During the 南朝 Nanchao, Southern Dynasties, 420-589, 400 years before Du Mu's visit, many many temples were built there, some say 480! Some still remained in Du Mu's time but the misty rain had swallowed up most of them in the preceeding 400 years. Today, in early May, 2008, only a few remain, and all of these have been rebuilt many times since the Tang.

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