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For the interview with Tony in Winter 2000

For more of Tony's translations from the Chinese

Poetry selection from Readymades by Tony Barnstone in Fall 2001.

HE ZHIZHANG (Ho Chih-chang) (659-744)


Translated byTony Barnstone and Chou Ping



He Zhizhang came from Yuezhou-Yongxing (in what today is Xiaoshan County, in Zhejiang Province). He was one of a group of four poets from the Lower Yangtze Basin that included Zhang Ruoxu, whose work is also included in this volume (they were known as the “Four Scholars from Wuzhong,” and also included Zhang Xu, and Bao Rong). He was a politician and a poet who retired from politics at age eighty-five to become a Daoist hermit near Lake Jinghu in Zhejiang Province. He was a great friend of Li Bai, and in fact gave him his appelation of the “Banished Immortal.,” He was himself called one of the “Eight Immortals of the Winecup,” by Du Fu and as he was known for his idiosyncrasy, also earned the appelation “Crazy Zhang,” He was known for his openhearted love of the lower classes, and for his free thinking, and in later Daoist tales is presented as a man who achieved immortality. Only 19 of his poems remain.


Willow

Green jade decorates a tall tree,
thousands of emerald ribbons hanging down.
Who cut those tiny leaves so fine?
The March wind like a pair of scissors.


Two Poems Written on Returning Home

1
I left home young and returned old,
accent unchanged, but my hair now thin and gray.
Little kids do not know me at all —
with a big smile they ask,“Where are you from, stranger?,”

2
Away from home, many years passed.
Now all men, all things seem half worn out.
Yet before my door I see the water of Mirror Lake.
Spring wind cannot change its old waves.