Watching the Lingering Snow on Zhong-nan Mountain 1

Zu, Yong   (699? A.D.-746? A.D.)

The north side of Zhong-nan Mountain is beautiful.
The snowy peak floats on a sea of clouds.
The treetops in the forest glisten in the sunshine after the rain,
While in the city the chill increases at sunset.

1 The Advanced Exam in the Tang dynasty required every examinee to write a poem consisting of twelve lines. Each line had to contain five Chinese characters, and every other line had to rhyme. When Yong Zu took the exam, he wrote this poem and handed it in. Someone asked him, "Why don't you expand it to twelve lines?" Zu replied, "My poem is complete." It turned out that he passed the exam. However, he was never offered a government position. He returned home and lived as a fisherman and lumberjack all his life.