Ou-Yang Hsiu

Ou-Yang Hsiu – Tony Barnstone
Ouyang Xiu is considered to be a prime example of the Chinese ideal of the multifaceted scholar official, equivalent to the Western ideal of the Renaissance man…  He is the author of … a set of commentaries on poetics titled Mr. One six’s Talks on Poetics. (Mr. One six was a pen name of his that referred to his desire to be always in the presence of his wine, chess set, library, zither, and archaeological collection; thus, the five things he enjoyed plus himself—one old man among them—made six “ones.”) This compilation was the first treatise in the aphoristic shi hua form. Ouyang Xiu is esteemed as a prose master whose essays have clean and simple language and fluid argumentation; he helped lead a movement away from ornamental prose styles to a simpler style of “ancient prose,” a traditionalist movement that had as its aim a Confucian moral regeneration.

His poetry is also marvelous, and he was instrumental in raising the lyric (ci) form of poetry (poems written to fit popular songs) into a widespread and important Song poetic style. His plain style and use of colloquial expressions made his poetry accessible to larger audiences and helped preserve its freshness for audiences today. Like Andrew Marvell, he was a sensualist who is known for his carpe diem poems. Even just before his death, he wrote a poem about how “Just before the frost comes, the flowers / facing the high pavilion seem so bright.” Late in life he gave himself the title “The Old Drunkard.” He was also an individualist, both in his approach to writing and in his interpretations of the classics.[tooltip content= “The Anchor Book of Chinese Poetry, Tony Barnstone (Anchor, 2005)”] [source][/tooltip]

Returning in the Moonlight to Huang-hua

Joy’s in the sound of the spring up the cliff,
evening late the mountains quiet.
Pines, in a wash of moonlight,
as thousand peaks, a single hue.

J.P. Seaton

Swallow Falls

Swallows return here
to cold heights to dart through flying waters.
My friends gone, my heart sees them:
a flash of pure brilliance, glistening, long.

J.P. Seaton

East Wind

The burgeoning trees are thick with leaves.
The birds are singing on all the hills.
The east wind blows softly.
The birds sing, the flowers dance.
This minor magistrate is drunk.
Tomorrow when he wakes up,
Spring will no longer be new.

Kenneth Rexroth