Zhang, Jiu-ling 1 (678 A.D.-740 A.D.)


The leaves of orchids are flourishing in Spring.
The flowers of cassia trees are bright white in Autumn.
They are growing luxuriantly.
Like a gentleman keeping his integrity,
They shine through wind and rain.
Who cares whether hermits in woods become excited when smelling their fragrance?
Spreading fragrance is their nature.
Why would they care for a virtuous man's approval?


There is a grove of orange trees south of the Yangtze River.
The trees stay green throughout the winter.
It is not that the ground there is warmer,
But that the trees are resistant to the chill.
Their fruits can be recommended to the guests of honor.
It is a pity that they are made difficult to access by distance and obstacles.
We must accept the fate that we encounter.
The cycle of fortune is unpredictable.
Why do people plant only peach and plum trees 2?
Do these orange trees have no shade 3?

1 Zhang passed the Advanced Exam in 697 A.D. He was a great Prime Minister during the early stage of Emperor Ming’s reign. He was famous for his honesty and straightforwardness. However, he suffered the slander of evil officials in the emperor's court. After his resignation under pressure, the politics of the Tang dynasty became dark and corrupt. Soon he was banished from the emperor's court and demoted to mayor of City Jing. These poems were written during his exile. They show that he was concerned about slander, stayed away from trouble, and maintained integrity in his own way. His poetry greatly influenced many poets in the early stage of the Tang dynasty.

2 Their gaudy flowers are compared to flattery.

3 The benefit of their shade is long lasting.