Sunday, March 28, 2010

Plum Blossom Spring

Every spring it's a contest between the redbuds and the plums to see which will bloom first. This year it was the plums, but not by much because we are having a very late spring.

Plum blossoms always remind me of a wonderful art exhibition that was held back in the 1980s at the museum where I used to work, the University Art Museum at UC Berkeley (now the Berkeley Art Museum). I still have the catalog: Bones of Jade - Soul of Ice: The Flowering Plum in Chinese Art.

The title was taken from a poem by Su Shi:

In Flowering-Plum Village at the foot of LuoFu Mountain,
The flowering plums' bones are of jade and snow, and their souls of ice.
In their multitude the blossoms seem moonlight hanging from the trees,
In their brightness they are alone with Orion on the horizon at dusk.

In solitude I live on rivers and seas,
Melancholy like a sick crane perching in a deserted garden.
Heavenly scent and the land's foremost beauty: a comforting sight!
They know I am heavy with wine and ready to bring forth pure, warm verse.

Here's another good one, by Zhu Dunru:

At the old creek, a single flowering plum;
It escaped being locked in a garden or park.
The road is far, the mountain deep; it does not mind the cold.
It seems to play hide-and-seek with spring.

Hidden thoughts—who knows them?
Contracting friendships it's always hard to hit it right.
Lone romance, lone fragrance—
The bright moon comes to look for me.

And finally, Wang Wei:

You have come from my home town
You must know about things at home.
On the day you left, had the winter plum
In front of my open-work window blossomed yet?

What blooms first where you live?

No comments:

Post a Comment