To Honor Yuan Qu (屈原)
on the Dragon-boat Festival Day (端午節)
Liu, Ke-zhuang 2 (劉克莊,
The pomegranate flowers bloom in my lush garden. I raise the curtain and come
out in plain cloths, carrying a silk fan. The breeze at noon relieves the heat
of summer. Children compete to boast of their handicraft: a new style of head
ornaments and moxa-tigers 3. The riverside is crowded with spectators
watching the dragon-boat race 4. I am getting old and losing interest
in joining the competition. I would rather let young people drum, wave flags,
and win the race. The rain from the creek is heavy 5. Waves crash and
whitecaps dance 6.
Ling-jun's 7 bearing was highly graceful. I recall his biography.
He wore orchid flowers 8 and carried wine
9 as well as
fragrant spice 10. Who would believe a thousand years later people
imagine his soul in the river bottom would drool for angled dumplings
It is said that dragons in water become angry because they want to, but are
unable to eat these dumplings 12. If Yuan Qu
were to awaken today and discover how people treat him, he would prefer to die from drinking rather than
drown himself 13. With this humor, let us smile for the moment as we
mourn this great poet.
Yuan Qu (340-278 BCE) is the Father of Chinese Poetry. Chinese celebrate
the Drgon-boat Festival in honor of him. The Dragon-boat Festival Day is the
fifth day of the fifth month in the Chinese lunar calendar. It is said that Yuan
Qu committed suicide on this day by drowning himself in the Mi-lo River. In
1939, the writers at Chong-qing City (重庆市)
established Poets Day as the same day as the Dragon-boat Festival Day to honor
the patriotic poet, Yuan Qu.
Ke -zhuang Liu was a native of Fu-tian City in present day Fujian Province.
He had the privilege to become a government official because of his father's
great contribution to China. Once he wrote a poem titled "Fallen Plum Blossoms".
It says, "It is a mistake to allow Mr. Dong (east) to hold power/ For he is
jealous of recluses with integrity." Slanderers copied this poem and showed it
to the powerful. As a result, he was not given any meaningful jobs for ten
years. His poem "Visiting Plum Blossoms" says, "Meng-de was demoted because he
wrote a poem about peach trees./ Chang-yuan offended the incumbent because he
wrote a poem about willow trees./ Fortunately, I know nothing about peach or
willow trees. However, my poem 'Fallen Plum Blossoms' has caused me trouble for
ten years." In 1246 CE, he was given a certificate which was equivalent to
passing the Advanced Exam. Xu Feng says, "You Lu (陸游),
Qi-ji Xin (辛棄疾) and Ke-zhuang Liu
(劉克莊) were the three most
important poets in the Southern Song dynasty. Like You Lu, he moved south to
devote himself to the emperor and his country. Like Qi-ji Xin, he aimed to
contribute to his country, not just through poetry, but also through military
3 "Moxa-tigers" refers to the tiger-shape figures made by moxa plants. They
are used to banish evil spirits.
Yuan Qu's loyalty was not trusted by his king. Qu committed suicide by
drowning himself in the Mi-lo River because he wanted to awaken his king from
his blind trust of evil officials. "The dragon-boat race" symbolizes an attempt to
The rain refers to the water in the air splashed by the oars and then blown
by the wind onto the spectatorsí faces.
These two sentences hint at the fierce competition among the dragon-boat
Ling-jun was Yuan Qu's other first name.
8 "Orchid flowers" symbolizes Qu's integrity.
Wine was used as an offering to gods.
10 "Fragrant spice" was used to entice and thereby conjure gods.
In order to honor Yuan Qu, people wrap their dumplings into an angled
shape and throw them into a river as their offerings.
In ancient China, people believe that bamboo leaves could repel dragons.
Therefore, people wrapped their dumplings with bamboo leaves so that dragons in
the water could not eat them.
This sentence states that few people truly understand Yuan Qu.