Friday, January 31, 2014

The cheerfulness of my garden

I love flowers, and I particularly love flowering bushes or perennials. Annuals -- come and gone -- are probably the most showy, but things that come back please me most in my own garden. I also find blue and purple flowers difficult to photograph (this reminds me of my mother, who was always trying to get a photo of her morning glories that was the right shade of blue, and whinging about the developing) so I was pleased with the way the iPhone rendered this early bloom on the germander. You can see some of the whitish stems on the new growth of the plant in this picture. The entire bush is the freshest thing in the garden right now. Breath of spring!

Li Po wrote of springtime, too. Peach blossoms!


Where the dogs bark
by roaring waters,
whose spray darkens
the petals' colours
Deep in the woods
deer at times are seen;

The valley noon:
one can hear no bell,
But wild bamboos
cut across bright clouds,
Flying cascades
hang from jasper peaks;

No one here knows
which way you have gone:
Two, now three pines
I have leant against!

From Penguin Classics Li Po and Tu Fu; poems selected and translated with an introduction and notes by Arthur Cooper. 1973. Page 105. In this book, there is also a discussion of this poem as it relates to the philosophy of teaching without words. The master will not even meet him but allow him to learn by looking about. This is compared to Wittgenstein's, "Don't think: Look!"

Visiting A Taoist On Tiatien Mountain

Amongst bubbling streams
a dog barks; peach blossom
is heavy with dew; here
and there a deer can
be seen in forest glades!
No sound of the mid-day
bell enters this fastness
where blue mist rises
from bamboo groves;
down from a high peak
hangs a waterfall;
no one knows where he has gone, so sadly I rest,
with my back leaning
against a pine.

Li Po

This is another version I found here, at the Poem Hunter.  You will see that there is a dog and there is a bell! These poems illustrate the difficulties we can have when knowing about poetry in languages which are not are own. Still, I think the effort is interesting and very rewarding.

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