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To Xiang Chen 1 at Heng-yang City

(To the Tune of "The Creek at Mo-shan Mountain")

Huang, Ting-jian 2 (1045-1105 CE)

A pair of Mandarin ducks,
A red male and a blue female,
Treasure each other's love.
Her penciled eyebrows bashfully withdraw her glances
That exude love and tenderness.
The great mountains and rivers in Hunan Province
Pale in comparison with her beauty.
Lissome and graceful,
She is little more than thirteen.
Spring is still young;
Slender tree limbs are in bud.
It is the age for sorrow-filled searches for love.

As for chasing women and drinking wine,
What man wishes to fall behind?
I am afraid that
Abundant green foliage will create shade
And the branches will be full of plums
When I return from a distant journey.
I wish she could be mine,
But I cannot control my destiny.
I wonder if she knew
I still looked back from miles away
After she offered me a willow branch at the Long Gazebo
As her parting gift.


1 Xiang Chen was a geisha girl that Ting-jian Huang admired.

2 Lu-zhi was Ting-jian Huang's alternate first name. He called himself Shan-gu-dao-ren (valley Taoist) and, in his later years, Fu-weng (old man in Fu-zhou City). A native of Fen-ning City (present day Xiu-shui City in Jiangxi Province) in Hong-zhou County, he passed the Advanced Exam in 1067. He was a clerk at Ye-xian County, a professor at the Imperial University, and the Mayor of Tai-he City, then an editor. He once was in charge of editing The History of Emperor Shen-zong’s Reign. In the beginning of the Shao-sheng Period (1094-1097), the royal family considered something in the book untrue, so Huang was demoted, first to the deputy mayor of Fu-zhou City, then to a low-ranking official in Qian City. Later, he was summoned back and reassigned to be the Mayor of Tai-ping (peaceful) City.
    While he was the Mayor of Tai-he City, he often visited the Pavilion of Joy. In 1082, he wrote a poem titled "Ascending the Pavilion of Joy". It says, "After finishing my work in the office,/ I went to the Pavilion of Joy/ And watched the sunset at its east and west sides./ The tree leaves on Qian-shan Mountain fell;/ The sky extended far and high./ The Cheng-jiang River reflected the bright moonlight./ I no longer play the zither/ Because the one who understood my music left me./ My eyes shone/ Because there was wine on the table./ Flute music was playing in a ship returning from a long journey./ I wished I could have roamed in the sky with white gulls."
    After Ting-jian Huang wrote this popular poem, the Pavilion of Joy immediately became a famous scenic spot in China. Since then, the pavilion has attracted many officials and scholars who came to improvise poetry. The number of related poems has exceeded a hundred.
    Ting-jian Huang, Guan Qin (1049-1100), Lei Zhang (1054-1114), and Bu-zhi Chao (1053-1110) were called the Four Distinguished Students of Dong-po Su. Ting-jian Huang's poetry was nuanced, concise, spirited, and creative. He was the Father of the Jiangxi Poetry School. The poets in the Jiangxi Poetry School cast off the old formalism and try to establish a new style of formalism.
    Ting-jian Huang, Dong-po Su, Fu Mi (1051-1107) and Xiang Cai (1012-1067) were called the Four Masters of Calligraphy During the Song Dynasty. Ting-jian Huang mastered both the cursive and the elaborate cursive hands in calligraphy. The unrestrained calligraphical works of Xu Zhang and Monk Huai-su derived from slight inebriation, while those of Huang’s derived from meditation and the comprehension of Zen philosophy. Thus, the changes in Zhang and Huai-su's works are unpredictable, while Huang's calligraphical works are serene and graceful.