Friday, September 19, 2008

Qiao Ji

Qiao Ji also known as Qiao Jifu was a major dramatist and poet of his day. He was originally from Taiyuan in Shanxi, but lived in the West Lake area in Zhejiang province. His courtesy name was Mengfu and his pen name was Shenghao Weng . Qiao was said to have maintained an aloof and intimidating demeanor, to the point he frightened people away, according to the ''Record of Ghosts'' , of his many plays eleven are still extant.

Both his plays ''Jinqian Ji'' and ''Yangzhou Meng'' reached the pinnacle of notoriety in his day and are still celebrated. His extant ''sanqu'' lyric poetry are also numerous. There are 209 ''xiaoling'' lyrics exist as well as 11 ''taoshu'' suites. All were collected into the ''Complete Sanqu Poems''. In addition his collected works, ''Qiao Ji Ji'', appeared in 1986. An object of the poet's lyrics was a combination of literary elegance and the language of the street. The poet insisted on what was his "six character prescription" which he explained as a lyric poem with a "phoenix head, pig's belly and a leopard tail." The poet tells us that he “wandered for forty years.” He traveled around many of the central and southern areas of China. Qiao's influence on later drama was considerable.


Enjoying Leisure

I refine autumn mists in my alchemist stove

And heat pure snow in my tea boiler.

Blossoms fall and waters swirl by my thatch hut,

Like the spring breeze in places long lost.

Call a woodcutter, tip the gourd and drink the dregs of cloud-pale grog.

Lean against a screen, I’m a saint drunk on dew on a pure bed of cold stone.

Hanging on a vine

A wild gibbon talks to the moon, bright through my pale papered window.

This old one awakens from his sleep.

Expressing my sorrow on a winter day

Winter and Cold,

The time of snow.

Who will be the withered plum’s companion?

A fisherman’s skiff

Is moored by an islet;

His coat of green reeds cannot keep out the wind and frost.

A fish takes the barb of his hook.


Blows his hair thin;


Chaps and cracks his hands.


Never counted among the dragons,

Never entered the lists of greats.

Always the wine sage,

Everywhere the verse seer.

A graduate of mists,

A drunken saint of river and lake.

Jokes and laughs were my official career;

Got stuck.

Wrote notes for forty years instead

On the mad and crazy wind and moon.


In the hills among trees,

Hut of thatch secluded and fine.

Faded green pines, bright green of bamboos

Fit for a painting;

Three or four homes near the misty village.

The soaring dream pursued falling flowers,

For the taste of the world was like a chewed candle.

This man need only bear his own whitened head,

Not follow the monkey of his mind.

I plant my melons,

Pick my tea,

Smelt cinnabar in the alchemist stove;

Read a chapter of the Way and Power,

Talk a while the chat of a fisherman.

At leisure enclosed in my groves and fences;

Lie down drunk beneath a bottle-gourd trellis,

Just pure and unmoved, just me!

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