The Cold Food Day 1

Han, Hung      (He passed the Advanced Exam in 754 A. D.)

In Spring, the poplar flowers fly everywhere in the capital 2.
On the Cold Food Day, along the royal streets
The willow trees are blown askew by the east wind.
At sunset the emperor gives permission to light candles in the palace.
Light smoke disperses into the mansions of the royal families.

1 The Cold Food Day occurs one or two days before the Pure Brightness. Some say the purpose of the Cold Food Day is to honor Hermit Chih-T'ui Chieh. Others say the day originated from the Chow dynasty's old tradition of prohibiting fire. On this day, people are prohibited from using fire in the kitchen and, as a result, they eat only cold food. This poem describes the privilege and magnificence of the royal families.

2 The State Department of the T'ang dynasty needed to hire a secretary. The position was open only to those who had passed the Advanced Exam. The officials sent the emperor a list of qualified candidates and asked him to choose one. The emperor wrote "Hung Han". However, two of the candidates were named "Hung Han". The officials again asked the emperor which one to hire. The emperor added, "The one who wrote 'In Spring, the poplar flowers fly everywhere in the capital'."