The Chong-yang Festival 1

Liu, Ke-zhuang (1187 A.D.-1269 A.D.)

    How deep is the expansive darkness of the sky! How can I endure the entangled sorrow woven by drizzle and skewed wind? Everything in China is nothing to my experienced eyes. This is because I rely on tall towers to see all the great autumnal scenery of manifold cliffs. Even though a scholar with gray hair is sorrowful for the Divine Land 2, he will not shed tears toward Niu Mountain 3. When I try to pursue the past, it disappears without any trace.

In my youth, I was proud of my writing brush which could raise readersí spirits to the skies 4. Now my heroic spirit fades. My mind is filled with desolation. I lament that few contemporary writers are creative. They love to talk about the maniac in the Southern dynasty 5 and tell the same story of the worn hat year after year. We should drink wine as we gaze at the yellow flowers. Otherwise, the flowers will laugh at our lonesomeness. The wild geese fly north 6. The sun sets in the west 7.

1 On the ninth day of the ninth month of the Chinese lunar calendar, Chinese people used to climb mountains, drink wine and delight in observing chrysanthemums to celebrate the Chong-yang Festival.

2 The Divine Land refers to the northwest part of China (present day Henan and Shaanxi Provinces) which was occupied by the Jin dynasty, the enemy of the Southern Song dynasty, during Liuís time.

3 Niu (cattle) Mountain was located south of present day Lin-zi County in Shandong Province. When King Jing of the State of Qi visited Niu Mountain, he gazed at his capital in the north and shed tears. See Ying Yan's Spring-fall. Origins explains, "The tears of King Jing of Qi were caused by his mountain climbing."

4 After Emperor Wu of the Han dynasty read the poems of Xiang-ru Si-ma, he had a feeling of euphoria as if he was riding clouds.

5 The manic of the Southern dynasty refers to Jia Meng of Jin dynasty. He was a councilor of General Wen Huan. They once climbed Long (dragon) Mountain during the Chong-yang Festival. Meng did not notice that the wind blew his hat off his head.

6 This sentence refers to Liu's longing for the Divine Land.

7 This sentence refers to how fast the time flies. It expresses and reveals that Liu feels becoming old. A reader would feel pity at Liu's acknowledgement that his heroic spirit is fading as he becomes old.