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As the years go by, give me but peace


© 2010
BASID #861

Beth Ames Swartz
As the years go by, give me but peace
acrylic and mixed media on canvas
18" x 24" (0.46m x 0.61m)
2010

王維  (Wang Wei, 701–761 a.c.e., Chinese)

 

 

酬張少府

Answering Vice-prefect Zhang

 

 

晚年惟好靜

As the years go by, give me but peace,

萬事不關心

Freedom from ten thousand matters.

自顧無長策

I ask myself and always answer:

空知返舊林

What can be better than coming home?

松風吹解帶

A wind from the pine-trees blows my sash,

山月照彈琴

And my lute is bright with the mountain moon.

君問窮通理

You ask me about good and evil fortune?....

漁歌入浦深

Hark, on the lake there's a fisherman singing!

 

        The story of the Fisherman’s Song is found both in Mencius and in the Ch’u Tzu or Eligies of Ch’u. The allusion here is presumably to the latter context. Ch’u Yüan, a poet of the fourth century B.C.E., to whom the poem is traditionally (though wrongly) attributed, explains to a fisherman why he is wandering in exile by the river: the world is dirty, he alone is clean; everyone is drunk, he alone is sober, and so on. The fisherman finally rows away, singing, “How clean the river water – I will wash my feet.” That is to say, one’s behavior should be adapted to whatever conditions prevail (see Hawkes, David. Ch’u Tzu: Songs of the South. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1959, 90-1).