By Yeh Shao-Weng:
It must be because he hates clogs on his moss
I knocked ten times still his gate stayed closed
but spring can’t be kept locked in a garden
a branch of red blossoms reached past the wall
Sent to me by John Hertz during National Poetry Month, this poem really is by Yeh Shao-Weng the 13th Century Chinese poet. John quoting it in Vanamonde 1192 didn’t mention File 770, nor did he say Yeh’s real title was what I put above. I can’t claim authority to speak for a Sung Dynasty author, but I think I know what’s on John’s mind — because he has a lot of material in the next issue. I really do hope to publish File 770 #166 this spring.
From John’s notes: The poem can be found in Red Pine tr., Poems of the Masters (2003), the original in four lines of seven Chinese characters each on p. 228 and Red Pine’s translation on p. 229. The literary name Red Pine is the Taoist immortal Ch‘i Sung, Lord of Rain under Shen Nung, the legendary inventor of agriculture. The anthology, in Chinese named Ch‘ien-chia Shih, literally A Thousand Poems of the Masters, is sometimes called the Thousand Poems for short; the translator left out “thousand” since it’s clearly figurative, there being two hundred poems. About the poem he says, “The Chinese often use moss as a ground cover in their gardens … the clogs … had two high wooden ridges on the bottom, one in front and one in back…. The red blossoms are those of the apricot…. The last line is quite famous but was originally part of an earlier poem by Lu Yu (1125-1210) entitled ‘Written on Horseback’” (p. 228). About the anthology he says, “for the past eight centuries, it has been the most-memorized collection of verse in China and part of every student’s education” (p. 5).