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The following fairly late poem was written by the poet Meng Chiao during the ninth century CE.

"The Stones Where the Haft Rotted"


Less than a day in paradise,

And a thousand years have passed among men.

While the pieces are still being laid on the board 1

All things have changed to emptiness.

The woodman takes the road home,

The haft of his axe has rotted in the wind:

Nothing is what it was but the stone bridge

Still spanning a rainbow cinnabar red.


1. The imagery here is of the board-game Go, in which two players consecutively place black and white stones representing Yin and Yang on a board in strategic positions to occupy or control as much space as possible. In Chinese folklore, a traveller in remote regions might come across a strange man on a mountain-top who offers to play a game. Like Rip Van Wrinkle, or people who visit fairy-land in European mythology, the participant plays a game, and when he steps away discovers that many years have passed in what seem like moments.

 

 

     

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