Mot NATO, for fred

12. juni 2023

Ying Tzu 應子 (ca. 760-837)

Ink painting believed to depict Ying Tzu from the book Ink Figure Painting by Wu Hsien-Sheng 吳憲生

Ying Tzu, a poet of the Ying Dynasty, mostly wrote contemplative verses that captured the emotions of human existence.

Ying Tzu was born into a scholarly family in the prosperous city of Chang'an, the capital of the Ying Dynasty. From a young age, he displayed a interest in literature and immersed himself in the classics of Chinese poetry, philosophy, and history.

From his young adulthood, only a few short verses have been preserved, often lacking titles. The verses appear to have been written for his daughters, two of whom are believed to have resided in Zezhou, in the State of Jin, north of Luoyang. The poems from this period express a blend of affection and longing, often directly addressing the subject of the poems. These poems seem to have functioned as letters, and some of them additionally serving as travel descriptions or travel letters.

In his forties, Ying Tzu travelled extensively across the empire, and he visited Tongzhou 通州 and Huating 華亭 in the East and Haicang 海滄 in the South.

After the epidemic that affected Chang'an and the surrounding areas in the years 819-822 and the Dun Basi Rebellion(敦巴司起義)in the years 822-825, where travel became increasingly hazardous or downright impossible, Ying Tzu's poems become more mature, longer, and more expressive. This may be due to his inability to leave his Chang'an home during this period, allowing him a pretext to deepen his engagement with literature.

Ying Tzu's verses were deeply influenced by the spirit of other Ying Dynasty poets, and his poetry reflected the aesthetic ideals of the era, often exploring themes of nature, love, and the transience of life. Ying Tzu's poems are characterized by their introspective and philosophical nature, delving into the complexities of human emotions and the fleeting nature of existence. His words were imbued with a sense of melancholy and a deep understanding of the human condition.

Ying Tzu's poetic pursuits also brought him into contact with historical events that stirred the depths of his emotions. From the Dun Basi Rebellion, the devastating conflict that shook the empire, through the war in the Mountain Kingdom, to the decline of the Northern Dynasty's central authority, these tumultuous times permeated his verses, revealing his concerns and reflections on the state of the world.

Throughout his life, Ying Tzu grappled with personal struggles and challenges. His verses often reflected his own internal conflicts, the fleeting nature of joy and sorrow, and the inevitability of aging. Yet, amidst the uncertainties of existence, he sought solace and enlightenment through the power of his words.



如見書自存一旦, 如見人自存百歲。

Without title

(Translation 1)

As if I were to come across oranges, peaches, and plums
under the shade of a willow tree, in the worst drought, when the heat burns the throat with thirst
That's how a letter from you keeps me alive all morning
That's how a visit from you keeps me alive for a hundred years

(Translation 2)

Come se mi imbattessi in arance, pesche e susine
all'ombra di un salice, nella peggiore siccità, quando la mia gola brucia
Cosi una tua lettera mi tiene in vita per tutta la mattina
Cosi una tua visita mi tiene in vita per cento anni




The Beautiful Merchant of Zezhou

(Translation 1)

South at the intersection of Huanghua and Wenchang
In the middle of the day, after lunchtime, when the streets are congested with carriages
Inside a backstreet alley, there is a modest shop
With the finest textiles imported from all over the world
Often, young men drop by
Under the pretense of wanting to make a purchase
But in reality, they come just to admire her
All customers are met with the same courtesy

La bellissima mercante di Zezhou

(Translation 2)

A sud dell'incrocio tra Huanghua e Wenchang
A metà giornata, dopo l'ora di pranzo, quando il traffico è intenso nelle strade
All'interno del cancello di un vicolo c'è un modesto negozio
Con i più pregiati tessuti importati da tutto il mondo
Spesso i giovani si fermano
Con il pretesto di comprare
Ma in realtà, vengono solo per ammirarla
Tutti i clienti vengono accolti con la stessa cortesia

Letto in italiano da Edoardo Noce (m4a)




Chariots And Beacons

Amidst rumbling cannon and flashing fire,
War chariots and horses approach the gate.
Villages ablaze, chaos consumes the border regions,
Passing over countless departed souls.

Travellers are admonished not to proceed to the West.
Evacuating the young and old,
Famine and scarcity envelop the realm,
Relief is scarce and diminishing.

General Dun, unable to endure the situation any longer, rises,
Victory and defeat already ordained.
The outcome in the West appears uncertain,
While on the Eastern battlefront the spirit of resistance is confident.






Summer Disquietudes

(Translation 1)

Sitting quietly in the study, days pass with a sense of unease,
Continuing to write, endless volumes, never caring much about completion.
Without any praise or recognition, without a single ode,
Those who understand will in the future appreciate the ardour.

In the courtyard, children play and frolic leisurely,
As the summer solstice arrives, the heavens are serene and free from trouble.
Fearful of midyear's scorching heat,
Only feeling the constant hardship of financial struggle.

Thinking of your official duties in the State of Jin,
Toiling away for meager pay, the years pass in haste.
How can one endure this until autumn approaches?
I fully understand you cannot with any ease leave your position.

(Translation 2)

In the quiet study, days persist with strain,
Continuing to write, the tomes remain.
No accolades received, no verses sung,
Only the discerning future feels the impact wrung.

In the courtyard, children play and jest,
Summer's zenith, skies in peaceful rest.
Fear grips amidst mid-year's scorching wrath,
Endlessly reminded of poverty's path.

Mindful of your duties in Jin's estate,
Labouring for meager pay, years abate.
How can one endure until autumn's twilight?
I beseech you, wise one, don't yield your rightful height.

An anthology containing 17 of Ying Tzu's poems is available for download as a PDF file here.