"Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice."
Gabriel Garcia Marquez: "One Hundred Years of Solitude"
The sun in the distant mountains glows The Yellow River seawards ever flows You will find a grander sight By climbing to a greater height
Zhihuan's short poem works on two levels. It is a mediation
on nature which also serves as an epigram, a short motivational work meant to
encourage seeking out new and better prospects.
While the poem is only four lines long, it works as a
meditative focus point, something to ponder whether sitting alone outside or
during a crisis as a reminder that there is a solution to be found no matter
the problem. Combining Taoist, Buddhist, and Confucian religious ideas Zhihuan’s
only surviving poem provides food for thought dressed in the language of
nature. It symbolises the pursuit of an ideal. The message it contains is the
admonition to try harder!
In China, the stork (also the heron and crane) is a symbol of longevity because it lives a long life, and its white feathers represent old age. In the Chinese imperial hierarchy, the stork is “a bird of the first rank.” Flying cranes symbolise one’s hope for a higher position. Here is another, less satisfying, translation:
The white sun sets behind the mountains,
and the Yellow River flows into the sea.
To see a thousand mile view,
go up another floor. I’m listening to the British
psychedelic folk group The Incredible String Band singing their own song “Painting
Box”. Very sixties! Listen here.