Visual rhythm and perspective


In a mode of consciousness in which there is no disturbance of intellectual impositions, no hurry-scurry to establish causal relations, each object or moment is given the fullest chance to emerge in spotlight-ing distinctiveness very much the way everything appears keenly fresh in the orbit of a child’s vision. Wang Wei’s poetry is particularly noted for its visual immediacy and authenticity: visual perspicuity in each phase of perception (in this case, we may say reception) and different gradations of color and light in the natural makeup of the scenery. The visual order of his images (or moments) in the poem (i.e. the linguistic artifact) follows naturally the cuts and turns of our experiencing the fluctuations of Phenomenon.

The river flows beyond the sky and earth.
The mountain’s color, between seen and unseen.
—”Floating on the River of Han”

‘White clouds—looking back—close up.
Green mists—entering—become nothing.
—”Mount Chungnan”

Tall bamboos reflect sky’s arc.
Flashes of blue wash ripples.
Darkly into the Road of Shang-Hill—
Even woodcutters do not know.
—”Frost-Bamboo Ranges”

Vast desert: a lone smoke, straight.
Long river: the setting sun, round.
—”As Envoy to the Barbarian Pass”

Boating in the wide river:
Confluent waters reach sky’s end.
Sky-waves suddenly open up:
Towns: a thousand ten thousand houses.
Farther on: appear cities
Suddenly mulberry and hemp.
Backwards view of a former native country:
Teeming waters merge with cloud-mist.
—”Crossing River to Ch’ing-ho”