Night Mooring at the Maple Bridge 1
Zhang, Ji 2 (fl. 740-780 CE)
The moon set, ravens crowed,
And the frost swept all over the sky.
Facing the red maple trees and fishermen's fires along the river,
I was inflamed with worry 3 and could not sleep.
Bell tolls 4 from Han-shan Temple
5 outside Gu-su City
Reached our passenger boat at midnight.
1 The Maple Bridge was located in the Feng-qiao Borough, outside Chang Gate
of Su-zhou City. The bridge is six miles from downtown Su-zhou City. One may
to learn how this poem is sung by local musicians. In this video, a man and a
woman sing in a local dialect. After every half line the man sings, the woman
repeats his words with a different tune. For the last half line in a stanza,
they sing together. Their song is full of local flavor. This video is a good
example of how we should popularize poetry: How do we add accompanying
background music to make a poem more interesting and more closely related to our
2 Yi-sun was Ji Zhang's alternate first name. His ancestral home was in Xiang-zhou City (present day Xiang-yang City in Hubei Province). His family was
an eminent clan in Nan-yang City (in present day Henan Province). He passed the
Advanced Exam during the Tian-bao Period. He was the minister overseeing
sacrificial rites and then a judge in charge of the affairs concerning salt and
iron in Hong-zhou City. Most of his poems were his travel notes written in a
simple style. Zhong-wu Gao said, "Ji Zhang was from a
family that produced poets generations after generations. He clearly inherited
the talents of his ancestors. His poems are simple and natural without
ornamentation. They give readers a lingering appeal as though they were written
by a philosopher. His description of an event is concise but thorough; his
analysis is to the point."
3 "Worry" is often explained as the feeling of homesickness. It can also
refer to the various problems of life in general.
4 In Zen philosophy, a sudden beautiful thing, such as the tolling of a bell,
is known to bring inspiration or epiphany.
5 Han-shan Temple was located one mile west of the Maple Bridge. The temple
was first built during the Southern Liang dynasty. Poet Monks Han-shan and
Shi-de lived here. This was how the temple gained its name. It was destroyed by
the flames of war many times. The current temple was rebuilt at the end of the
6 Gu-su City is another name for Su-zhou City. The city was so named because
Gu-su Mountain was located southwest of Su-zhou City.