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Reading the Classic Book, The Mountains and Rivers 1

Tao, Yuan-ming (365-427 CE)

In May grasses and trees have grown.
The trees around my cottage are lush.
Birds rejoice to build their nests there.
I also love my home.
I have cultivated my fields and sowed my crops.
It is time again to read my books.
The blind alley with no traces of traffic
Impedes my old friends' carts from visiting me.
I enjoy filtering Spring wine
And gathering vegetables in my garden.
A light rain comes from the east.
A soft breeze accompanies the rain.
Having extensively read the stories of Emperor Mu-wang 2,
I browse through the pictures in The Mountains and Rivers 3.
I can reach any moment in history or any place in the universe
Simply by glancing at books.
If this is not happiness, then what is?


1 Zi-qi Zhong was able to appreciate Ya Bo's talent while listening to him play the zither. When Bo-ya thought of Tai-shan Mountain, Zi-qi would tell him, "Great! The mountain is as imposing as Tai-shan Mountain." When Bo-ya thought of a river, Zi-qi would tell him, "Great! The music reminds me of the flow of a mighty river." After Zi-qi Zhong died, Bo destroyed his zither and no longer played it because Ya Bo thought there was no one who could appreciate his musical talent. See The Spring and Autumn Annuals by Bu-wei Lü [ca. 291-235 BCE]. It is said that the ancient melody, "Tall Mountains and Flowing Water", in a book of music published in 1425 was composed by Ya Bo. One may listen to this melody by visiting
    Of the following two videos, the title of the first is "The River"; the title of the second is "The River Flows Eastward":

2 The essay "The Biography of Xi Shu" in chapter fifty-one of The History of the Jin dynasty says, "In 281, Bu-zhun, a native of Ji-jun County, committed a grave robbery at either the mausoleum of King Xiang-wang [?-296 BCE]of the State of Wei or the mausoleum of King of An-li. He acquired scores of wagons of bamboo books. One of them contained five stories of Emperor Mu-wang, who reigned over China from 1001 to 946 BCE, of the Zhou dynasty. One story says that Emperor Mu-wang traveled all over China and visited the creator as well as the creator's mother."

3 The preface to The Mountains and Rivers, written by Xin Liu (ca. 50-ca. 23 BCE), Xiang Liu's (ca. 77-ca. 6 BCE) son, says, "During the Xia dynasty (ca. 2070-ca. 1600 BCE), Emperor Yu divided China into nine states and established taxes on farmlands; Bo-yi collected items according to their categories and divided them into beneficial ones and harmful ones. The Mountains and Rivers was the result of his research."