Friday, October 30, 2009



Thought of a man 9 hundred years old... his love, poems, eternal romance....

Lu You is one of the greatest poets in Chinese history, born during the end of Northern Song dynasty, having lived through the down fall of one dynasty and the weak new formed Southern Song, his patriotism for the Song, his ups and downs in his political career, his heart beak were inspirations. Essenes of his love life, his view of current political climate, his despairing hopes for China's unity, expressed through poems. He wrote more than 10 thousand poems, more than 9 thousand of which are preserved today.

At age of 20, he married his cousin Tang Yuan, the 2 were greatly in love with shared poetic ideas. Females were seldom educated in those days. Lu You wrote a poem about them collecting yellow chrysanthemum flowers to make a pair of pillows, expressing his love for his wife and the happiness they shared (This poem was not recorded). Later Lu's mother demanded him divorcing Tang Yuan (later found that she wasn't able to have children). The 2 were heart broken and helpless. Both of them were remarried under pressure.

10 years later, Lu You accidentally ran into Tang Yuan and her current husband in the Shen's garden (Shao Qing, Zhe Jiang Province). Lu wrote a poem on the garden wall (littering :P ) expressing his anger, helplessness, and sadden lasting love for her. Tang Yuan later wrote an other poem pairing with her sorrows, and died soon after. The combined poem is the famous Chai Tou Feng - Phoenix on a Hair Pin.

Lu You spend the next 40 years fighting the Mongols and was dispatched in various provinces and cities during his political career. At age of 63, he saw some one making a chrysanthemum pillow, his broken heart struck him once again, and wrote a poem about his memories of young loving marriage with Tang Yuan. In this poem, can we only know about the existence of his previous chrysanthemum pillow poem written at age 20.

At age of 67, Lu You revisited the Shen's garden, Chai Tou Feng was a spear stabbing his bleeding heart again. An other poem was written in Tang Yuan's memory.

He moved close to Shen's garden at age of 75, every time he's in town, he'd look into the garden from a hill top afar in silence. He wrote one last poem for Tang Yuan a year before he died.

What does it take to receive such life long immense love from a man....


MatrixPetka said...

Deep dark night I visited Lu Yu in dream
Submerged in the garden emotionally broke hairpin with head of Phoenix
Song dynasty man‘s heart sentimental – tears still drops
Lament about today man‘s frivolous sentiments
When I dream on round chrysanthemum pillow
There is none who will wait till red powder will change to flying ashes.

Imen said...


Thanks for translating...

This poem was written out of a day of caffeine intake leaving me a long sleepless night, dwelling in the dark hole of internet, searching for meanings.

In shock of Lu You's misfortune in his early marriage, which did not lessen any of his love for Tang Yuan. I am ashamed of today's media portrait so call romance and love.

Perhaps I am comparing only 1 man from the ancient to millions of today, which isn't fair. However here is what I meant in my poem:

Chrysanthemum Pillow Dream:
Deep dark night I visited Lu You's dream

Heart wrenching Phoenix on a hair pin in Shen's garden

Man of Song's infatuated heart still dripping tears

Lament today's frivolous sentiment

What day will my chrysanthemum pillow dream realized

Do not wait till blushing flesh turn flying ashes

MatrixPetka said...

It was pleasure for me and my poor chinese language knowledge. Yes, indeed, chinese poetry it is full of colours and meanings - translation need a lot of explanations. For example - "red powder" I understood as powder for make up for lady :) Anyway, I am happy that in general I catched the meaning.

Thanks for pleasure of poetry.

P.S. Recently (about month ago) I was writing about cooperatio - have you got my mail. Still no answer....

Anonymous said...

That's beautiful there's a lament for the many men who didn't love a woman like that so they'd be touched again in old age after losing her. It's not surprising that the Tea Sage (Lu Yu) was also a great lover.

MatrixPetka said...

It was not about Lu Yu - tea sage, but about Lu You - famous poet. :)
A lot of time between them.

Shufra Consultancy said...

*Lu Yu.

Imen said...

Lu You is a poet in Song Dynasty,
Lu Yu wrote Tea Classic in Tang Dynasty.

Johan said...

It's so strange for me as a westerner to read things from Song dynasty or even earlier. The outlay of society seems so much like modern society, the only difference being the level of technology.

When I read stories from the same period in Europe. Their lives seem so different, their thinking seems so strange to me, it's hard to relate to, but these old chinese stories seem like their lives were much more like our own.

Imen said...


The dark ages of Europe had set european culture back for so long that it seems the entire culture only began at the end of it. The underlining mind set is rather invasive. This can be seen today in banking system, technology, foreign policy, and subconscious behaviors of many Europeans.

Chinese culture on the other hand has flourished through out with only a few war time interruption of a few hundred years at a time. Cultural recoveries were relatively quick. This recovery is also taken place now in China. Cultural revolution in the 60's destroyed human spirits on top of economy. The younger crowd today are much in the cloud today. However the 40's and up group are taking the wheel of preserving and reviving Chinese culture today. One day I hope to see this spread amongst college groups, then teenage group.