Nineteen Old Poems - Ku-shih shih-chiu
Type of Spiritual Experience
Nineteen Old Poems, also known as Ku-shih shih-chiu, is an anthology of Chinese poems, consisting of nineteen poems which were probably originally collected during the Han Dynasty.
These nineteen poems were very influential in regards to later poetry.
The dating of the original poems is uncertain, though in their present form they can be traced back to about 520 CE, when these poems were included in the famous literary anthology Wen Xuan.
The Nineteen Old Poems have been supposed to date mainly from the second century CE.
The authorship of the "Nineteen Old Poems" is anonymous.
A description of the experience
Traveling and traveling on and on,
you opened a lifetime of separation:
ten thousand miles and more apart,
each living out our own edge of sky,
the road long and hard, no knowing
when I’ll ever see your face again,
A northern horse in northern winds
and a southern bird in southern trees:
the day we parted is growing distant,
my robe and sash looser every day.
Drifting clouds shroud the bright sun
you wandering without looking back,
and all this longing has made me old,
year-end moons suddenly gone dark.
I can’t tell you how abandoned I feel,
but I’m eating well, building strength.
Far, far off the Ox-Herd star drifts.
And the Star Rivers radiant lady-
she weaves shadow-and-light finery
her shuttle whispering, whispering
all day long. She’s never finished.
Her tears fall, scattering like rain.
Star Rivers a crystalline shallows,
so thin keeping them apart, a mere
wisp of water brimming, brimming.
They gaze and gaze, and say nothing.
Turning the team to begin my long
road vast and distant,I gaze through
four directions boundless and beyond
wind tearing at the hundred grasses,
everything new and strange. What
can slow the rush of age, the passing
seasons of flourish and perish? Still
here struggling to succeed: it’s bitter,
and we’re not made of metal or stone
old age won’t last. Suddenly, the great
transformation of things carries us
away, and bright legacy’s the jewel.
Those who went vanish ever further,
and those to come draw ever nearer.
Leaving the city gate, I gaze ahead,
and it’s all mounds and tombs, those
ancient graves now plowed fieldland,
pine and cypress hacked for firewood,
and poplars tangled in wind’s grief,
its whispered laments that can kill.
I long to set out for my old village, my
old home, but the road won’t go there.
A traveler came from far away
gave me a roll of delicate silk:
ten thousand long miles gone
and my dear one’s still in love.
The pattern’s all paired ducks.
I piece them into a revels quilt,
stuff it with ceaseless longing,
tuck edges and knot them tight.
If you throw glue into varnish,
who can part them ever again?