Tagged poetry

a riot of blossoms

meihua yuan

In China these days, there is much talk of the flowers of the season. Pale pink cherry blossoms are opening in pockets of central China and Yunnan, actually the ancient place of origin of the esteemed bloom. But eastern China is maybe the best for spring flower viewing, especially in the jiangnan (江南) region, south of the Yangtze River.

apple blossom

Du Mu wrote over a thousand years ago:

江南春

千里莺啼绿映红
水村山郭酒旗风
南朝四百八十寺
多少楼台烟雨中

Jiangnan Spring

A thousand miles of orioles crying, red among the green
Along the village shore and city wall, wine banners wave in the breeze
Four hundred and eighty temples of the southern court
How many towers hidden in the mist and rain

meihua pavilion

We’ve just returned from Qingming Festival in Hangzhou, part of the jiangnan region, where we saw so many of these ancient images painted before us. Peach blossoms in fiery pink, the pale plum blossom in early spring, the wild orchid in secret watery groves. Delicate young shades of spring green cascade through the landscape, in a way we miss in Shenzhen where it’s green all year.

orchid hz

Qingming is a traditional time to behold springtime flowers, but the jiangnan will be in bloom through April and May, so a trip to one of the area’s cities will be especially vibrant during this season. The May 1 holiday is one upcoming three day weekend, which could make a lovely time to visit this region. Hangzhou, the former capital Nanjing, Suzhou, and Yangzhou will all hold classical scenes as in the poems, and be dressed in beautiful blooms throughout these months. Here’s a great guide to flower viewing in Hangzhou.

west lake is always rewarding

水光潋滟晴方好 shimmering xihu
山色空蒙雨亦奇。
欲把西湖比西子
浓妆淡抹总相宜。

Water shimmering under a fine billowy sky
Or by mist and rain mountains colored something wonderful.
Dressed up or wiped plain, like Xi Zi
To take in West Lake is always rewarding.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This poem exalting the beauty of Hangzhou’s West Lake was used for the temporary covering of the city’s new Apple Store, revealed today and set to open this weekend. Calligrapher Wang Dongling painted the characters of the poem, written by Su Shi, or Su Dongpo, an 11th century poet and statesman of the Song Dynasty. While serving in Hangzhou, Su penned this poem and built the lake’s main causeway which now bears his name. A museum at the southern end of the Su Causeway is dedicated to Su Shi and holds other examples of his poetry and eclectic life. The new Apple Store, opening tomorrow morning at 9am, will be located on the east side of the famous West Lake, memorialized in Su Shi’s and many other classical poems. A video of the artist at work will remain on Apple’s website. Click the image below to go straight to the video.

 

Find out how to get around West Lake, and read more ancient poems dedicated to this alluring place in China Tea Leaves 杭州 Hangzhou.