Tu Fu 2022

Finally! The first bean! Tu Fu is one of the Scarlet Emperor Beans I planted too deep — 3 inches! I don’t know why I did that — bad advice from Mr. Internet, I think, very stupid because this isn’t my first rodeo or bean. The packet from which the original beans came is in my seed box, but did I look at it? No. Or rely on previous (successful) experience, good God no, never that.

I didn’t expect to be this happy over the emergence of a bean, but I guess that happens every year.

You may be asking “Why Tu Fu?”

Simple. MAYBE he’ll be the ONLY bean (I don’t know). And, if that’s the case, I want the poet who wrote my favorite Tang Dynasty poem. He also had to CLIMB to get to the sunlight. He might feel a sense of accomplishment.

Gazing at the mountain

Preparing to climb Mt. Tai
All around me, Zhao and Jiang
a distant blue
Good Fortune, the God of Time, bestows and
Balanced in dawn’s early light are Yin and Yang

To the layers of clouds I bare my breast, while 
From the corner of my eye
I catch the sight of flying birds
As I struggle to reach the top
From the summit all the mountains seem small.

I changed the last line to the one my friend translated for me when he wrote the poem for me on a scroll.

Sometimes I feel sorry for myself because I can’t easily climb anything, but then I think, I live at the same altitude as the highest mountains in San Diego County. A mountain is a mountain is a mountain. A mountain can challenge me, but never to judge me. The ring of mountains around me? They just remind me of the immensity of time, sometimes even that they were not always here; that there were Rocky Mountains BEFORE these Rocky Mountains. The great gift of a mountain — as Tu Fu writes in this beautiful poem — is perspective.

望 岳

岱 宗 夫 如 何
齐 鲁 青 未 了
造 化 钟 神 秀
阴 阳 割 昏 晓
荡 胸 生 层 云
决 眦 入 归 鸟
会 当 凌 绝 顶
一 览 众 山 小

You can see more here, along with the story behind the poem and something about Tu Fu: https://100tangpoems.wordpress.com/2017/02/21/gazing-at-the-mountain/

9 thoughts on “Tu Fu 2022

  1. congrats on your bean, a true emperor. a reminder that whatever we do or don’t do, life goes on. or it doesn’t. we only have control over so much. love the poem with the translation.

  2. Not sure what “other mountains before these mountains” means, but it’s true that the great gift of a mountain is perspective. I suppose you can also turn the phrase slightly and say our earth has been given the gift of great mountains. 🙂

  3. Yes, a wonderful poem! I would like to add a slightly different translation for comparison:

    a view of taishan

    what shall i say of the great peak? —
    the ancient dukedoms are everywhere green,
    inspired and stirred by the breath of creation,
    with the twin forces balancing day and night.
    …i bare my breast toward opening clouds,
    i strain my sight after birds flying home.
    when shall i reach the top and hold
    all mountains in a single glance?

    Zhao and Jiang are just synonyms for the ancient world, when everything was perfect….

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