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Title: Shirley's Art 954- Integrated Art 100:Jiang Xue -Fishing by the Snowy River --Shirley's Assignment 254 at Chinese National Academy of Arts -Dec, 2014/March, 2015
Artist: Shirley Yiping Zhang
Size: 80.00cm x 180.00cm( 31.49 inches x 70.86inches)
Completed Time: Dec 29, 2014 / March 24, 2015
Remarks:
Listen to Shirley Singing the Poem in Chinese Mar. 12, 2015
Listen to Shirley Singing the Poem in English
Learn the Meaning of the Poem
Listen to Shirley Explaining the Poem & Follow Me to Read It
See Shirley Created Paintings for the Poem -Jan 1,2015


Original Poem, Lyrics of the Song in Chinese and Pronunciations

You can click on any Chinese Character to open the New Character Board and see its Chinese pinyin, meaning, pronunciation and follow my reading, you can also click on the links to enter the Painting Column, to see more paintings and art notes that I wrote for the poem.

ѩ - Jing Xu

- Tng

Ԫ - LiZngyyun

ǧɽɾ - Qing shn nio fng ju
- wn jng rnzng mi mi
- Gzhu sulwng
ѩ - d dio hn jing xu

ǧɽɾ - Qing shn nio fng ju
- wn jng rnzng mi mi
- Gzhu sulwng
ѩ - d dio hn jing xu

- Gzhu sulwng
ѩ - d dio hn jing xu

ѩ - d dio hn jing xu


The Main Meaning of the Poem and the Lyrics of the Song in English
Listen to Shirley Singing the Poem in Chinese Mar. 12, 2015

There are no bird flying over the thousand mountains,
There are no footprint on the ten thousand pathways.
There is only an old man in the grass rain cape and bamboo hat in a boat,
Fishing alone on the cold river in the snow.

There are no bird flying over the thousand mountains,
There are no footprint on the ten thousand pathways.
There is only an old man in the grass rain cape and bamboo hat in a boat,
Fishing alone on the cold river in the snow.

There is only an old man in the grass rain cape and bamboo hat in a boat,
Fishing alone on the cold river in the snow.

Fishing alone on the cold river in the snow.


About the poet:

Liu Zong Yuan 773 C 819) was born in Yong Zhou, in todays Yunchen, Shanxi Province. The generations of his ancestors were officials, the highest position reached prime minister and his father was an imperial clerk.

His mother gave him the initial education so that he was interested in knowledge when he was just 4 years old. When he was 9, from Changan (todays Xian) - the capital of Tang Dynasty, he went to Xiakou (in todays Wuchang, Hubei Province) where his father worked as an official, warding off the danger of war. At his 12 , he followed his father to travel in Jiangxi and then go back Changan.

When he was 21 years old, he passed the national examination and became a Jinshi -- a successful candidate in the highest imperial examinations. According to the tradition at his times, after his father died, he stayed around his fathers grave for 3 years, then he entered the official circles and had a series initial positions. In 803, at his 30 years old, he became an office of imperial supervisor of inspecting.

And just in this year, he took part in the failed Yongzhen Innovation and was demoted for more than 10 years and then he died at the age of his 47.

Liu Zongyuan lived in the Middle Part of Tang Dynasty (756824 ) . That was a times that the Tang Dynasty was going to the decline and a lot of the bad social maladies had arisen. Working on different positions, Liu Zongyuan saw them and worried about the fate of the country so he had a strong wish to reform them some day. Therefore, he took part in the Yongzhen Innovation which was led by Wang Shuwen and was supported by the Emperor Shun Zong, for enhancing the central authority by restraining the military governors, demoting the malfeasants, adjusting the tax, abolishing eunuchs right and a lot of measures to benefit the society and the people.

Unfortunately, after the Emperor Shun Zongs health got worse and lost his imperial position, the Yongzhen Innovation failed on its about 180 the day.

As a penalty, Liu Zongyuan was demoted to be a Shaozhou Prefectural governor and then a smaller but no actual rights official in Yongzhou (in todays Hunan Province) for 10 years. Then he was called back to Changan and then to be appointed as a Prefectural Governor of Liuzhou, until he was dead in Liuzhou ( in todays Guangxi) .
Besides a reformist and an official, Liu Zhongyuan was also a litterateur and poet and his greatest contribution to Chinese culture is on literature. As one of the Eight Great Prose Masters of the Tang and Song Dynasty, the main literature achievement of Liu Zongyuan is on essays, creating many great articles and being one of the founders of the Classical Prose Movement in Tang Dynasty.
The Tang Dynastys Classical Prose Movement is a literature revolution to revive Confucianism and the style of the essays in the Qin and Han Dynasties characterized by simple, unadorned, free sentence and style, to express thoughts and life naturally and freely; while to argue against the rhythmical prose ( characterized by parallelism and ornateness ), to reach the goal to create something new by learning ancient traditional art achievement.

Liu Zongyuans literature works mainly includes essays, apologue, biography, travel notes of landscape, verse and poems. Among of them, his essays made the highest achievement. There are about 600 literature works existent in the world right now, including bout 140 poems.

Most of his existing poems were written after he was demoted. As an official and poet he was concerned with the society, sympathized with people, cherished lofty ideals but no way to make his dreams come true, Liu Zongyuans poems mainly expressed the civilians poor lives under the extorted excessive taxes and levies of the rulers, his own political views and the wishes did not want to associate with the corrupt and evil officials even though he was in the demotion, and some poems of describing the landscapes and nature. In art, his epic poems are natural, unadorned and lively, his allegory poems are full of the vivid images and profound morals, his lyrics are pure, fresh and clear, all of them express some very deep feelings in the brief style.

Enjoy the Poem
Listen to Shirley Singing the Poem in Chinese Mar. 12, 2015

This is a little landscape poem which includes only 20 Chinese characters and 4 lines but has been collected into the Chinese textbook of elementary school.

Maybe you would like to know why it is famous? Let us see the poem itself:

The first line: ǧɽɾ - Qing shn nio fng ju. ǧQing means thousand; ɽshn means mountain, hill; nio means bird; ju means there is nothing totally or absolutely; nio fng ju means there is no any bird in the sky at all. This line means : There are no any bird flying over the thousand mountains.

It sounds like a huge curtain has been opened. Now we have seen a so vast and so quiet scenery without any bird on the thousand mountains and in the endless sky. With the wordǧ Qing -- thousand, to emphasize the mountains so many; ju -- there is nothing totally and to stresses without any birds over the mountains absolutely. Even though we have seen thousands of mountains over there then no any bird over them at all. The first view focuses on the vast and quiet of the view.

The second line: - wn jng rnzng mi. wn means ten thousand; jng means path, footpath or track; rn means people, person; zng means track, footprint; mi means disappear, there is nothing ; means there is no any track of human being. This line means there is no any footprint of people on the ten thousand pathways.

Based on the first line, this line opened the second huge certain and shows us a more vast landscape and similar peaceful atmosphere by emphasizing no any trace of human being in the mountains ten times more than the mountains in the first line. With the word wn - ten thousand to shows us the ten times of the numbers of the mountains and the much more expanse with the scenery of -- there is no any track of human being, to match the last lines nio fng ju means there is no any bird in the sky. The first line describes the view over the mountains in the sky; this line describes the view in the mountains and on the land. Both of them work together to create a vast and silent world.

Since there is no any birds in the sky and there is no any trace of people in the mountains, what is in sight of the poet ?

The third line: - Gzhu sulwng. g means alone, lonely, isolated, solitary; zhu means boat; gzhu means an lonely boat; su means straw or palm-bark rain cape; l means a large bamboo or straw hat with a conical crown and broad brim; wng means old man. This line means there is only an old man in the grass rain cape and bamboo hat on a boat.

The last line: ѩ - d dio hn jing xu. d means alone, by oneself; dio means fish with a hook and line, angle, fish; hn means cold; jing means large river; ѩxu means snow. This line means ( the old man is ) fishing alone on the cold river in the snow.

Now not only have we seen the alive life in the vast and quiet world mountains and sky, but also, we have understood why there is no any birds or trace of human being in the sky and on the mountains, because all of the world is covered with heavy snow. Then the original landscapes in the first two lines has been bathed in the freezing and cold breath and universe . Just like an artist has colored some while colors on his /her previous drafts.

In the last two lines, both of the wordsgzhu C a lonely boat and the words d dio -- fish alone match both of the words ǧɽqing shn - thousand mountains and the words wn jng -- ten thousand paths perfectly. The vast, silent, freezing and clean background / world in the first two lines has well served as a foil to the loneliness and the calm situation of the hero in the poem.

Until now, we have seen a great landscape with many layers or a series paintings with mountains, sky, river, snow and an old fishing man. A peaceful mountain and water picture has been painted ok.

However, if we recall the writing background of this poem, we can find that it was written after the Yongzhen Innovation failed. As a talented and young official who was just 30 years old, with his ambitious and full of the zeal to take part in the Innovation for reforming the corrupted political systems and to save the country and the people in the deep distress, but the Yongzhen Innovation lasted just for 180 days and he was successively demoted from the capital to the poor and remote place so that all of his dreams and effort became nothing just in one night. Then in Yongzhou, he had no right, no position, even no one understood him in the afar and hard political environment lonely. Wasnt the terrible situation of Liu Zongyuan after the Yongzhen Innovation similar with the old fishing man on the cold river surrounded of mountains where there was no any bird and trace of human being but only the freezing ice and the heavy snow?

If this poem was just stopped on this level, it would not be different from many other poems that express the sadness or frustration with writing landscape only. This poem has been loved by Chinese for about 1200 years, because, it does not just tell people: What a loneliness person he was! What a sad heart he has! However, it has expressed a quite independent life attitude, even though he was in the loneliness and misery situation in the remote place and the freezing world. Instead of doing any thing dirty with those corrupt and evil officials together, rather than he chose to fish over the little boat on the cold and snowy world!

To be honest, when we read here, we have to really command respect to the poet. Right?

The fact was the same, in the 10 years Liu Zongyuan stayed in Yonhzhou, instead of living in the frustration, just like the old man fishing in the hard natural environment, he had struggled for 10 years and wrote a lot of famous works on philosophy, polity, history, literature and so on. Therefore, on the surface, this poem writes an old man but behind the figure of the fishing man is the poet itself.

In other words, this poem is adored not only because it has created a vast and freezing but pure and noble world, but also for it has endowed the hero C the old fish man with the poets soul and spirit. Then the old fish mans brave action in the severe icy and snowy world has become the portrayal of the self-imagine of the poet to keep struggling in the terrible political and hard natural environment. In this way, this poem does not write a snow-covered landscape, but also implies the noble character of Liu Zongyuans in the unfavorable situation after the Youzhen Innovation failed, it gives readers a lot of profound implications with the simple words-a beautiful picture of simplicity

Via creating a fantastical landscape and endowing the landscape with human beings quality inside to improve the general scenery to be an artistic conception, is just the basic reason that this poem has been adoring by Chinese people for about 1200 years. It is also the first and most important artistic character of this poem.

To write a vast and cold landscape and serves as a foil to the lonely elder fishing man and reflects the lofty sentiment of the poet in the political environment is the second reason why the poem successful.

To write from the distant view to the medium shot and then the close shot at least on a point, just like painting a series landscape or like opening a series landscape paintings, one by one, readers eye sight is led from afar to near and then be focus on one point. Even though the poem has been finished, still there is something touching readers heart for a long time. This is just the third charming style of the little poem.

Inspiration
Listen to Shirley Singing the Poem in Chinese Mar. 12, 2015

Pioneers are always alone, no matter in the history or in the contemporary. If we do have a dream to create something new and benefit others and the world, we must prepare to endure the aloneness for a long time.

As a pioneer, what he wants to do is not clear soon and it is not something ready- made but something creative, but it requires the pioneer to study, research and explore, to make sure what he wants to do clear, what the creation can benefit the others, how to create it and to serves the others all of these processes will be quite a long time. Usually it can not be calculated by days, but by years or even the time of a lifetime.

Since it is a creation instead of working on a ready work, before people have really seen and gotten some benefit from what the pioneers have created easily and conveniently already, usually, a pioneer can get little help, support even understanding.

So, if anyone wants to be a pioneer in a field, he or she must realize: no matter what kind of helping or meaningful thing or the cause you are working, you must make sure before you start it : Have you prepared to work alone for a long time even for the whole of your life in the situation there is no any benefit, there is seldom help, there is little understanding, just like the old man fishing in the old river alone around his is so open and cold, freezing, salient and snowy environment for a day, a moth, a year

If you are ready truly, then start your dream seeking; otherwise, to prepare something on your knowledge, skills, health, financial ability, especially a strong psychological endurance living and working alone.


After working on my little cross-culture and comprehensive art for about 14 years, when I worked on a painting relates a fish man by learning from Mr. Ren Bonian as my exercise at Chinese National Academy of Arts in the holiday of New Years Day of 2015, suddenly a little poem of Liu Zongyuan struck a responsive chord in my heart so much, so that I could not help adding some my own mountains and more water into my painting and translating the little poem into English and combine both of the picture and poem together in Beijing. Then in the winter of my 5 th class year of studying in both of China Central Academy of Fine Arts and in Chinese National Academy of Ars at home in Shenzhen, I wrote this article and created a piece of music to match the poems and the painting.

I do hope what I have done will be of some help with you to learn more about Chinese culture and language.


If you have any questions, comments and suggestions, please write to shirley@ebridge.cn . You are welcome to publish your opinions in Message Board as well.

Shirley Yiping Zhang

March 24, 2015