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Valentine Poem Collection - 45
On Seeing a Pupil of Kung-sun Dance the Chien-ch'i by Tu Fu
On the nineteenth day of the tenth month of the second year of Ta-li (15 November 767), in the residence of Yuan Ch`ih, Lieutenant-Governor of K'uei-chou, I saw Li Shih-er-niang of Lin-ying dance the chien-ch'i.
Impressed by the brilliance and thrust of her style, I asked her whom she had studied under. 'I am a pupil of Kung-sun', was the reply.
I remember in the fifth year of K'ai-yuan (717) when I was still a little lad seeing Kung-sun dance the chien-ch'i and the hun-t'o at Yen-ch'eng. For purity of technique and self-confident attack she was unrivalled in her day.
From the 'royal command performers' and the 'insiders' of the Spring Garden and Pear Garden schools in the palace down to the 'official call' dancers outside, there was no one during the early years of His Sagely Pacific and Divinely Martial Majesty who understood this dance as she did. Where now is that lovely figure in its gorgeous costume? Now even I am an old, white-haired man; and this pupil of hers is well past her prime.
Having found out about the pupil's antecedents, I now realized that what I had been watching was a faithful reproduction of the great dancer's interpretation. The train of reflections set off by this discovery so moved me that I felt inspired to compose a ballad on the chien-ch'i.
Some years ago, Chang Hsu, the great master of the 'grass writing' style of calligraphy, having several times seen Kung-sun dance the West River chien-ch'i at Yeh-hsein, afterwards discovered, to his immense gratification, that his calligraphy had greatly improved. This gives one some idea of the sort of person Kung-sun was.
In time past there was a lovely woman called Kung-sun, whose chien-ch'i astonished the whole world. Audiences numerous as
the hills watched awestruck as she danced, and, to their reeling senses, the world seemed to go on rising and falling, long after
she had finished dancing. Her flashing swoop was like the nine suns falling, transfixed by the Mighty Archer's arrows; her soaring flight like the lords of the sky driving their dragon teams aloft; her advance like the thunder gathering up its dreadful rage; her stoppings like seas and rivers locked in the cold glint of ice.
The crimson lips, the pearl-encrusted sleeves are now at rest. But in her latter years there had been a pupil to whom she transmitted the fragrance of her art. And now in the city of the White Emperor the handsome woman from Lin-ying performs this dance with superb spirit. Her answers to my questions have revealed that there was good reason to admire, my ensuing
reflections fill me with painful emotion.
Of the eight thousand women who served our late Emperor, Kung-sun was from the first the leading performer of the chien-ch'i. Fifty years have now gone by like a flick of the hand - fifty years in which rebellions and disorders darkened the royal house. The pupils of the Pear Garden have vanished like the mist. And now here is this dancer, with the cold winter sun shining on her fading features.
South of the Hill of Golden Grain the boughs of the trees already interlace. On the rocky walls of Ch'u-t'ang the dead grasses blow forlornly. At the glittering feast the shrill flutes have once more concluded. When pleasure is at its height, sorrow follows.
The moon rises in the east; and I depart, an old man who does not know where he is going, but whose feet, calloused from much walking in the wild mountains, make him wearier and wearier of the pace.
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Abu Simbel by Katharine Lee Bates
'Here will I build a temple, I the Lord,
Ramses the Great, crowned with the Double Crown,
Son of the Sun, whose chariot wheels swept down
The hosts of Kadesh, and whose thirsty sword
Hath revelled in this Ethiopian horde,
Smiting their necks. To teach them my renown,
Pyloned and obelisked in many a town,
I build a shrine wherein to be adored.
Take me this mountain of the living rock;
Hew it and hollow; carve its river-face
As mountain never yet was carved, to bear
My likenesses repeated like a prayer;
Then probe it to its inmost secret place,
And sculpture godhood from the savage block.'
The temple-cliff against the soft, deep blue
Of Nubia's star-sown sky stands ashen-grey,
Save where like sifted snow or frosted spray
The moonlight blanches it. Supreme in view
Sit throned the four colossi, emblems true
Of thine illimitable pride, thou clay,
Dust of the desert, Ramses, strewn to-day
In shattered images thine Egypt through.
Yet the stupendous Four are meek to Him
Graved at the hewn rock's heart, eternal, dim,
A God with Gods. With that dread Trinity,
Burning Harmachis, and the death-white Ptah
And, Lord of Thrones, the high-plumed Ammon-Ra,
The Pharaoh mates his mock divinity.
The dawn-light steals across the solemn Nile,
Warms the huge knees and stony, silent lips
Of those ranged giants, through the portal slips
And up the great Osiris columns, while
Chamber on chamber brightens, aisle on aisle.
The walls wax wonderful with mystic ships
And pageantry of war. Blue lotus dips
In sacrifice, and sudden faces smile.
Yet poignant, penetrant, the level beam
Strikes down those dusky courts to that last gloom
Of Zenith Splendor, and the Sun in Tomb
Of Night, with Ramses, their beloved one,
And fires their altar with a fleeting gleam.
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Sonnet 2 by Thomas Lodge
You sacred sea-nymphs pleasantly disporting
Amidst this wat'ry world, where now I sail;
If ever love, or lovers sad reporting,
Had power sweet tears from your fair eyes to hail;
And you, more gentle hearted than the rest,
Under the northern noon-stead sweetly streaming
Lend those moist riches of your crystal crest,
To quench the flames from my heart's Ætna streaming
And thou, kind Triton, in thy trumpet relish
The ruthful accents of my discontent,
That midst this travel desolate and hellish,
Some gentle wind that listens my lament
May prattle in the north in Phillis' ears:
'Where Phillis wants, Damon consumes in tears.'
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Jesus Calls Us by Cecil Frances Alexander
Jesus calls us over the tumult
Of our life’s wild, restless, sea;
Day by day His sweet voice soundeth,
Saying, “Christian, follow Me!”
As of old Saint Andrew heard it
By the Galilean lake,
Turned from home and toil and kindred,
Leaving all for Jesus’ sake.
Jesus calls us from the worship
Of the vain world’s golden store,
From each idol that would keep us,
Saying, “Christian, love Me more!”
In our joys and in our sorrows,
Days of toil and hours of ease,
Still He calls, in cares and pleasures,
“Christian, love Me more than these!”
Jesus calls us! By Thy mercies,
Savior may we hear Thy call,
Give our hearts to Thine obedience,
Serve and love Thee best of all.
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Come, Rest In This Bosom by Thomas Moore
Come, rest in this bosom, my own stricken deer,
Though the herd have fled from thee, thy home is still here;
Here still is the smile, that no cloud can o'ercast,
And a heart and a hand all thy own to the last.
Oh! what was love made for, if 'tis not the same
Through joy and through torment, through glory and shame?
I know not, I ask not, if guilt's in that heart,
I but know that I love thee, whatever thou art.
Thou has call'd me thy angel in moments of bliss,
And thy angel I'll be, 'mid the horrors of this-
Through the furnace unshrinking, thy steps to pursue,
And shield thee, and save thee-or perish there too!
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