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Observations placeholder

Ou-Yang Hsiu - Autumn



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

From A Lute of Jade – Being selections from the Classical poets of China [The Wisdom of the East series] edited and translated by L.  Cranmer-Byng and Dr S. Kapadia [1918]


One night, when dreaming over ancient books,
There came to me a sudden far-off sound
From the south-west. I listened, wondering,
As on it crept: at first a gentle sigh,
Like as a spirit passing; then it swelled
Into the roaring of great waves that smite
The broken vanguard of the cliff: the rage
Of storm-black tigers in the startled night
Among the jackals of the wind and rain.
It burst upon the hanging bell, and set
The silver pendants chattering. It seemed
A muffled march of soldiers hurriedly
Sped to the night attack with muffled mouths,
When no command is heard, only the tramp
Of men and horses onward. "Boy," said I,
"What sound is that? Go forth and see." My boy,
Returning, answered, "Lord! the moon and all
Her stars shine fair; the silver river spans
The sky. No sound of man is heard without;
'Tis but a whisper of the trees." "Alas!"
I cried, "then Autumn is upon us now.
'Tis thus, O boy, that Autumn comes, the cold
Pitiless autumn of the wrack and mist,
Autumn, the season of the cloudless sky,
Autumn, of biting blasts, the time of blight
And desolation; following the chill
Stir of disaster, with a shout it leaps
Upon us. All the gorgeous pageantry
Of green is changed. All the proud foliage
Of the crested forests is shorn, and shrivels down
Beneath the blade of ice. For this is Autumn,
Nature's chief executioner. It takes
The darkness for a symbol. It assumes
The temper of proven steel. Its symbol is
A sharpened sword. The avenging fiend, it rides
Upon an atmosphere of death. As Spring,
Mother of many-coloured birth, doth rear
The young light-hearted world, so Autumn drains
The nectar of the world's maturity.
And sad the hour when all ripe things must pass,
For sweetness and decay are of one stem,
And sweetness ever riots to decay.
Still, what availeth it? The trees will fall
In their due season. Sorrow cannot keep
The plants from fading. Stay! there yet is man --
Man, the divinest of all things, whose heart
Hath known the shipwreck of a thousand hopes,
Who bears a hundred wrinkled tragedies
Upon the parchment of his brow, whose soul
Strange cares have lined and interlined, until
Beneath the burden of life his inmost self
Bows down. And swifter still he seeks decay
When groping for the unattainable
Or grieving over continents unknown.
Then come the snows of time. Are they not due?
Is man of adamant he should outlast
The giants of the grove? Yet after all
Who is it that saps his strength save man alone?
Tell me, O boy, by what imagined right
Man doth accuse his Autumn blast?" My boy
Slumbered and answered not. The cricket gave
The only answer to my song of death.

The source of the experience

Ou-Yang Hsiu

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Believing in the spiritual world