Chinese & Art Classroom

Chinese Classical Poem 144 & Shirley Created Music-144 For the Poem:Zhu Shi - Bamboos on the Rocks by Zheng Xie -- April 24, 2012/ Sep 17, 2011

Listen to Shirley Reciting Singing the Poem in Chinese & in English Sep, 2012

Listen to Shirley Singing the Poem in Chinese & in English April 15,2012

Listen to Shirley Singing the Poem in Chinese & in English Sep17,2011

Listen to Shirley Introducing This Poem & Ti Hua Shi -- Poem on the Painting
Follow Shirley to Read the Poem & Chinese Characters

Learn the Meaning of the Poem With Shirley Together

See Shirley Created Picture & Calligraphy for the Poem April 4-5, 2012
See Shirley Created Picture & Calligraphy for the Poem Sep 18, 2011

Hello, friends. Today, I would like to introduce a new Chinese classical poem : Zhu Shi ? Bamboos on the Rocks by Zheng Xie (Zheng Banqian 1693-1765) who lived in Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

This is a Ti Hua Shi ? poem on the painting or painting poem. Then, what is Ti Wu Shi?

Ti Hua Shi ? Poem on Chinese Painting or Painting Poem
The traditional Ti Hus Shi usually points the poem on a Chinese painting. It is used to express the feeling, art opinion or the artistic conception of the author. Just like Fang Xun in Qing Dynasty said :“高情逸思,画之足,题以发之” Gaoqing yisi, hua zhi bu zu, ti yi fa zhi ? the distingue feelings or the surpassing thoughts cannot be totally expressed by a painting yet, therefore, to write a poem to extend them.

There is a poem on a painting and combines Poem, Painting, Calligraphy and Stamp together, is a special art characteristic of Chinese painting. It is also a unique folk form and style of the Chinese painting art and an especial aesthetics phenomenon in the world of art history. Many excellent Ti Hua Shi ? poems on the paintings are not only the valuable inheritance, but also something great in Chinese literature history.

Before Song Dynasty (960 -- 1279), the poems that were not written on the paintings, but praised paintings or expressed the feelings about some paintings also were called Ti Hua Shi in a broad sense.

About the origin of Ti Hua Shi, there are two versions. One said it started from the Wei (220-265), Jin (265 - 316), Southern and Northern Dynasties (420-589)and the other said it started from Song Dynasty (960 - 1279).
Anyway, Zheng Xie and the Eight Eccentrics of Yangzhou are acknowledged the best creators of the Ti Hua Shi in Chinese painting and poetry history.

Usually, the traditional Ti Hua Shi was written on the empty of a painting, to help the painting more balance. But Zheng Xie and the Eight Eccentrics of Yangzhou’s paintings and signatures went out of the tradition of the former Chinese painting or the scalar painting.

As the representative of the Eight Eccentrics of Yangzhou, Zheng Xie did not only write poem on every his painting, but also, he wrote his poems with combining the calligraphy and painting together ? with the four kinds of traditional Chinese calligraphies + short or long lines   + big or small sizes + punch-drunk form + his own painting style, his poem and the calligraphy have become the close parts of his paintings; His painting is picture and also poetry.

With the creative style of combining poetry, calligraphy, painting and stamp together perfectly, Zheng Xie and the Eight Eccentrics of Yangzhou extended the content of the traditional flower and bird paintings, shortened the distance between the scholar paintings and general readers, created a wonderful comprehensive art, and
produced much more influence on their society and the later generations.

About the Poet

Zheng Xie (1693―1765) was a famous poet, calligrapher and artist in Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1912) and one of the Eight Eccentrics of Yangzhou in Chinese art history. He was from Xinghua of Jiangsu Province, his original family home is Suzhou .

Zheng ’s father was a teacher who had hundreds of students, however, when Zheng Xie was born, his family had been in straitened circumstances, his mother was dead when he was 3 years old and at the age of 14 his step mother passed away.

Following his father, Zheng Xie started to read at the age of three and wrote article at 8 or 9 , and created poems and lyrics when he was 16 years old.

He earned the title of Xiu Cai --the imperial examination at the county level when he was 20; got the title of Juren -- a successful candidate in the imperial examinations at the provincial level at 40 years old; had the title of Jinshi -- a successful candidate in the highest imperial examinations when he was 43 years old.
But, he had been living a poor life and he had to raise his family with by selling his paintings in Yang Zhou. Until he was 50 years old, he was just appointed as a county magistrate in Fan County and then in Wei County in Shandong . After he was fired from these position and went back home to paint for years, he was pointed as a Shuhua Shi.

As an official, Zheng Xie loved his people as he loved his sons. When he was the magistrate in Wei County , in a famine year, despite the strong opposition from his bosses, he kept opening the granaries to save more than ten thousands of people. With this kind of responsible work style, when he was the county magistrate, there was no any injustice cases in his counties, the local people appreciated what he had done so that they built a memorial temple for him when he was still alive.

However, what he had done annoyed his superiors and he was fired. He had to go back home to paint.

In 1748, Emperor Qianlong visited Shandong , he appointed Zheng Xie as the Shuhua Shi   - an official Historian on Calligraphy and Painting.

At least 5 of his books have passed down up to now.

As an artist, Zhen Xie's painting, poem and calligraphy were called Three Matchless.

On calligraphy, he combined the 草隶篆楷 ? Cao( cursive hand -characters executed swiftly and with strokes flowing together), Li ( official script -an ancient style of calligraphy current in the Han Dynasty 206 B.C.-A.D.220), Zhuan (seal character -a style of Chinese calligraphy, often used on seals) and Kai (regular script), plused his own orchid and bamboo painting style together, with the big or small size and deflection style, created his own 六分半书 ? Liu fen ban shu (A style that Zhen Xie called his own calligraphy humorously )   means it is made of four ancient calligraphy styles + his own 2 and a half style.

On painting, his favorite were bamboo, orchid and stone and he said he painted “四时谢之兰,百节长败之变之人” ? Sishi bu xie zhi lan; bai jie changeqing zhi zhu, qianqiu bubian zhiren -- the orchid that will not wither in the four seasons; the bamboo that its hundred joints will be evergreen; the rock that will not destroy for through the ages and the people who will be invariability forever”

On poetry, most of his Ti Hu Shi- the poems on the paintings were made after he was fired. He said himself “宦海归来两袖空,逢人画 ? Huan hai gui lai liang xiu kong, feng ren hua zhu mai qing feng -- With two clean hands, I have come back from the official circles , as soon as I meet a person, I paint bamboos to sell the clear wind”.

As the representative of the Eight Eccentrics of Yangzhou, Zheng Xie’s Ti Hua Shi - poems on the paintings, walked out of the tradition of the poems on the painting ( poem was the subsidiary of the painting or the painting was the subsidiary of the poem).The content of his poems always relates to the reality life, via painting and admiring bamboo, orchid and stone to admire the characters that are firm and unyielding, upright and selflessness, grittiness, honesty and nobleness and so on. Each line expresses some idea of the poet, there is some far-reaching artistic conception.

Combining the painting, poem and stamp together, Zheng Xie and the Eight Eccentrics of Yangzhou led the scholar painting to go to the direction to pay attention to the reality, helped the pure flower and bird painting has much more social content, deeper ideological level and lyricism, shorten the distance between the readers and the scholar paintings.

To write the poems on the painting also helps the static minute on the painting to be continued and enlarged, added the artistic influence of the painting.

Zheng Xie was really one of the creators of the Ti Hua Shi in Chinese poetry history.

Enjoy the Poem with Shirley Together

This is a Ti Hua Shi and a Yong Wu Shi, to match the artistic conception of one of his   bamboo paintings (to see it below).

Let us see the title:

竹石 Zhúshií, zhú means bamboo; shí means rock, stone, the title means the Bamboos on the Rocks or the Bamboo on the Rock.

Since Song Dynasty, bamboo has been praising as one of the four gentlemen of the flowers ? plum blossoms, orchid, bamboo and chrysanthemum. It is the symbol of the qualities which are modest, straightness, rectitude, nobleness, tenacity and dogged, does not bend down in whatever hard environment and never go with the stream.

First line: 咬定青山不放松 yǎdīng qīng shān bùfàng sōng -- Cling to the green mountain, never give up. yǎo means bite, here means cling ; dì means firmly; 咬定 yǎdì means cling firmly ; qīng means green, blue; shān means mountain, hill; 青山 qīngsh means green/blue mountain; bù means no, do not; 放松 fāngsōàng means loosen, 不放松 bùfāng sōng means do/does not give up.

This line writes the roots of the bamboos, how they take their roots into the green mountain, just like poeple “ bite ” something and never loosen it at all. With the words 咬定 yǎdì ? bite / cling firmly , endows the bamboos some quality of human being, both of the feature and the character of the bamboos and the people has been stood vividly revealed on the paper. .

The second line: 立根原在破岩中 lìgēn yuán zàpòyán zhōng -- the bamboos take their roots in the cracks of the rocks. lì means stand up ; gēn means root yuán means originally; zài means in, on, at ; pò means broken, here means the crack of the rocks, cracked; yán means rock; zhōng means in, inside, within.

This line explains why the bamboos can bite /cling firmly the green mountain, because they have taken their roots into the rocks deeply. With the word “ ” pò -- broken / the crack of the rocks, indicates the poor living condition of the bamboos.

Anyway, even though in the riprap, the bamboos still take it roots inside, just like the pine that Mr. Tao Zhu wrote: “择地势,畏严寒酷热, 随处茁壮地生长起来” ?Bu ze dishi, bu wei yanhan kure, suichu zhuzhuang di shengzhang qilai ? it does not choose the topography, does not dare the chilliness or the intense heat, grows up healthy and strongly everywhere".

Since they can live in the so bad place that lacks the water and soil. This line implies us that the bamboos would be able to stand up any tribulations. This is a line to continue from the above and introduce the following.

After reading the two lines, readers have felt (great) respect for the bamboo already. Then, in the following two lines, write out that even though the bamboos have experienced so many hard times in the rain, snow and thunderclaps, and to be given violent rocks by the winds, they still keep standing up always.

The third line: 千磨万击还坚劲 qiān mówàn jīhái jiān rì -- Though they go suffering, they are still strong,
qiān means thousand ; mó means burnish; wàn means ten thousand ; jī means beat, hit, strike; 千磨万击 qiān mówàn jī means go through much suffering. hái means still ; jiān means firmly, strong, resolutely, solid; jìn means strong; powerful; sturdy 坚劲 jiān jìn means strong and resolutely.

Passing through the hammer-harden thousand and ten thousand times, the bamboos have changed stronger, they are standing   in the winds uprightly, firmly and never bend along with any wind at all.

The last line: 任尔东西南北风 rì ér dōng xīng nán běi fēng -- Hold unyielding, no matter where the winds blow from. rì means no matter ; ér means you; dōng means; east 西 xī means west, western; nán means south ; běi means north ; fēng means wind, breeze.

With the words “千磨万击 qiān mówàn jī -- go through much suffering ” , show us how the bad the environment is; with 西 -- the four winds ” write out the bad forces and the characteristics at that times.

Originally, the planar and silent painting bamboos on the rocks have been extremely lifelike already, plus the poem, both of them match with each other, becoming a unitive entirety, and meeting the artistic conception of “ 诗有画,画有诗 ? shi zhong you hua, hua zhong you shi -- there is painting in a poem and there is a poem in a painting. ”

As we have felt clearly, this poem is in fact portrayal of the poet itself. When we read it, it seems like we have seen the positive, fortitude, pure-hearted and unyielding poet itself was standing up in the hard circumstance.

When I write here, I cannot help think of the other poem Ting Zhu - Bamboo in the Courtyard by Liu Yuxithat I introduced for you days ago. If saying in that poem, bamboo was more like a gentleman, then in this poem, bamboo is more like a fighter.   

With the method of personification, the author not only caused us to feel a kind, true and natural beauty, but also, we have been influenced by the character of bamboo and the author naturally.

With a superb ability, Zheng Xie used the usual verbs produce charming and wonderful artistic conception for the poem.

With the short four lines, a clear picture has been showed us: under the cliff, in the cracks of the rocks, several green bamboos proudly stand up in the wind, their roots deeply cling into the cracks, they are strongly growing up. Both of their tenacity inside and straight shape outside stand vividly revealed on the paper.

This poem purely writes the bamboo in the nature, but, it does not absolutely copy the natural thing and sketches it. What it writes and paints has a clear symbol meaning.

On the surface, it writes the bamboo, in fact, it is writing the poet himself. The abstract meaning is implied in the visual description, offers readers double enjoyments.

I do enjoy this poem and I often borrow its meaning to encouragement myself. Therefore, I created a piece of music to match this poem (see it via the links over) and painted a painting to match it in Sep, 2011, after I had my 6th operation and prepared to have my new travel to take part in the Kentucky World Language   Conference in USA. Now, in CNAA, April, 2012, I have re-done all of the things and I do hope that my effort will be some help with you to know something more about Chinese culture and language.

The Main Meaning of the Poem

The Bamboos on the Rocks

by Zheng Xie (Qing)

Cling to the green mountain, never give up,
The bamboos take their roots in the cracks of the rocks
Though they go suffer, they are still strong,
Hold unyielding, no matter where the winds blow from.

Chinese Characters and Pronunciations

You can clink any Chinese Character to open the New Character Board and to see its Chinese pinyin, meaning, pronunciation and follow me to read it, also, you can hit the links over to enter the Painting Column,or you can directly enter the art notes on the painting that I created for this poem to see my painting and art notes for the poem

郑燮   (
咬定青山不放松 - Yǎdīng qīng shān búfàng sōng,
立根原在破岩中 - lìgēn yuán zàpòyán zhōng。
千磨万击还坚劲 - Qiān mówàn jīhái jiān jìn,
任尔东西南北风 - rèn ěi dōng xīnán běi    fēng。

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

Shirley Zhang

April 24, 2012/ Sep 17, 2011

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