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Saturday, 8 January 2022

Saturday Rave: Pu Suan Tzu by Dongpo.

 Su Shi (1037 – 1101) had the courtesy name of Zizhan, and the pen name of Dongpo. (As with other Chinese names, what we in English call a surname, in this case Su, comes first.)

The pen name was probably a good idea, as Su Shi tends to remind people nowadays of raw fish.

Su Shi was a politician from a family of government officials, a very bright boy who repeatedly got into trouble for not giving his support to the most powerful faction. 

He was banished twice.

Su Shi wrote poetry and prose. He wrote about the iron industry, about hydraulic engineering, about his travels, and about cookery.

I'll spare us the essay on the iron industry, but here's a short but exquisite poem, Pu Suan Tzu.

 A fragment moon hangs from the bare tung tree
The water clock runs out, all is still
Who sees the dim figure come and go alone
Misty, indistinct, the shadow of a lone wild goose?

Startled, she gets up, looks back
With longing no one sees
And will not settle on any of the cold branches
Along the chill and lonely beach


Word To Use Today: lonely. This word has come in being being because in the 1300s the word alone was wrongly imagined to be a lone. That wasn't the first time the word had been split up in a strange way, either, because in Old English it was al one - all one.

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