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Poetry: Composition and Appreciation

 
 
Piffka
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Mar, 2005 02:56 pm
Dear Oristar,

I am sympathetic for most everyone. But I've come to believe we live in a "Vale of Tears." I cannot understand how some live poorly while others live a life of unbelievable luxury.

It is a terrible conundrum. Worse, this is no philosophical subject but a real life dilemma. Can we assert that those who live in luxury deserve what they have? And then, conversely, wouldn't we have to assume that those poor others deserve their fate, as well? I can't believe that. There is something very wrong with our world. Perhaps science will fix it. Poetry only assuages the pain.

Best,
Piffka
0 Replies
 
oristarA
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Mar, 2005 10:44 pm
Dear Piffka,

Supposed the poor (now about 25 millions in China) is destined to deserve poverty, let's see the statistics below:

Impoverished population in China:

In 1979, 250 millions; in 1992, 95 millions; in 1999, 50 millions; by now, about 25 millions.

The fate of nine out of ten of the impoverished population has been changed in the past 25 years. So the sense of fatality that the poor is destined to deserve poverty cannot hold water.

Best,
Oristar
0 Replies
 
Piffka
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Mar, 2005 10:48 am
Dear Oristar,
Well, of course, I don't believe that the poor deserve poverty. It is a conundrum because I also believe the hard-working should receive the fruits of their labors and that artists need wealthy sponsorship. What I was questioning was plutocracies -- something my country is aiming towards. This seriously corrupts people. However, yours is excellent news -- nine tenths of the Chinese poor & their families are out of poverty in just twenty years? How did this happen? My heart sings with joy that these folks may live happy lives, though what you said earlier concerns me. I assume the cost of living in China is very, very low?

Quote:
... live on/under Chinese Poverty Line, which is defined as "yearly income is lower than 80 USD, or 627 yuan according to Chinese govt report. Because all NK's people could get their houses free of charge from their govt, but most of Chinese people not, especially the poor population.


Just eighty dollars a year? So little money that I cringe. Most Chinese, especially the poor, cannot get free housing? What about medical care?

The United States has a frighteningly large number of poor who are poor because of illness... often mental illness, though people are frequently bankrupted by a single serious illness. Many mentally deranged were turned out of the federal & state & veterans hospitals during the time of Reagan and some still wander about on the county roads & city streets receiving little assistance. They've been joined by more people every year who fall through the cracks. I don't know the figures but would be surprised if the United States was not going in the opposite direction with the number of poor people is rising.

When people point in derision at the welfare state of the United States they don't realize that many on federal assistance welfare are new immigrants, the disabled and their children. The federal government has left the care and costs for helping most of the poor to the fifty states. Each state must design and pay for its own ways to care for the needs of the poor -- this is mostly aimed at children. The life of a poor child is nothing to the life of a child born to wealth and never will be. You may have noticed that we have a quiet but not invisible class structure here. There is also something called the working poor -- those who work all their lives but never ever get ahead. No wonder some people turn to crime or drugs or both.

Geez, I need to think of something lighter for a moment. This is painful stuff, don't you think?

Best,
Piffka

"Some people became foolish because they were so disappointed at their social reality. Some people regarded themselves as being foolish because they were so firm in sticking to their political ideas. All these people were not really foolish. They were too clever and too principled to lead an easy-going life. But, I am not like them. Now, as our country is so prosperous, out time is so great and our emperor is so brilliant, I became foolish only because I am really stupid." From the Foolishman's Garden, Liu Zhong-yuan (773-819 AD)


Do you know what camellias are? I have a beautiful camellia bush blooming just outside my window. It looks something like this but I believe the leaves on mine are a darker shade of green:

http://www.themagnolias.co.uk/images/april2001/camellia-x-williamsii-st-michael-tn.jpg

What do you see out your window?
0 Replies
 
oristarA
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Mar, 2005 09:09 am
Dear Piffka,

What I got from your point of view is that plutocracies lead to widespread corruption in the United States. Have I understood you correctly?

The cost of living in China is a rather subtle matter. I was also stunned when I heard of the yearly income 80USD for the first time. But I think it in depth. Those rural population have had their own land, which is more or less valuable. In this light, they aren't as poor as rat. But according to American living standard, they are, because they could not get free housing, and basically enjoy no medicaid - that is, a single serious illness would make them dog-poor once again (China's medical expenses are terribly high compared to their income). Although they seem now well-to-do according to Chinese govt's standard.

There are many serious medical problems in today's world, which have been making a big hole in economy. Here, science will make its way.

The welfare of the US is no doubt much better that of China.

I think Liu Zhong-yuan should in fact refer to Liu Zongyuan, who was a famous activist on the historical stage during the middle period of the Tang Dynasty that had lost its flourishing age.

Below is a poem by him which is best known to all students in China.

http://www.chinapage.com/poem/liuzongyuan/liuzongyuan01.jpg

River-Snow

A hundred mountains and no bird,
A thousand paths without a footprint;
A little boat, bamboo cloak,
An old man fishing in cold river-snow.

The flower pic seems too small to be seen clearly.

Overlooking through my window from the 7th floor is a street. and Ou River is about 1km away.

Best,
Oristar
0 Replies
 
Piffka
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Mar, 2005 10:03 am
Dear Oristar,
You've got it right... I live in a plutocracy which is run by and caters to the wealthy. Only the wealthy are electable because the costs of a national election are astronomically high. This corrupts the furthering of natural ideals since favors given result in favors returned.

Look at what the current congress is interested in... is their interest in helping the working class? or the poor? No. Their interests are in giving a tax break to the wealthiest and repealing the estate tax. <shrug> I guess this has always been the case for humanity. Because I am the product of a typically upper middle class & comfortable background, I have lived in a dream world of idealism (thinking that the my country was different) most of my life. It makes me understand why sages retired to the simple life and left the real world to its own vile self. So it is for that reason that I can see the people in the rural areas as being in a better position than they might realize. But to appreciate that, people first have to experience the other, I guess. Still, every time a new and expensive product is created, there is a desire for it which cannot be fulfilled.

It is a shock to me to read some of the ancient Chinese poetry because underneath the pretty words is a belief that the emperor is infallible and his whims are worthy. One of the poets, I forget which one, called himself foolish for disagreeing with the emperor. I'd like to think that was ironic, but it makes me wonder. Who wouldn't drop everything to become the emperor's close advisor again?

As you say, the situation of medicine throughout the world is startling for its costs and may be one of the main drivers of the rising of everyday expenses. To me, it is also startling for its inequities. On the one hand we have extraordinary advances being made. On the other... they are only available to the wealthy. Even medical insurances only go so far. I suppose that, like all things, these medical wonders will eventually filter down to the common people.

Thank you for posting the image of the poem. (It makes me wish again that I could read Chinese script!) Afterwards, I found and read this to understand the poem better. It allowed that the rhyme and sounds of the poem in Chinese are what perfected the poem... so now I wish I could hear it, too. Very Happy As you know I live in a cold climate, so the images of freezing rain and iced-over mountains are very familiar! Very Happy Did you know that the native people of Puget Sound used what I imagine are similar rain cloaks? However, instead of being made of bamboo or reeds, they were made of cedar. Here's an old photograph (Please, try to ignore the nose ring!):
http://www.ushistoricalarchive.com/indians/photos/ct11/ct11028r.jpg

I have not been able to find a photograph of the Ou river online. Is it also called the Oujiang River?

Best,
Piffka

Here is, I hope, a better picture of camellias similar to mine... despite the strong winds we've had, the flowers are still mostly intact.

http://www.mooseyscountrygarden.com/camellias/pink-camellia-flower.jpg
0 Replies
 
oristarA
 
  1  
Reply Thu 24 Mar, 2005 03:46 am
Dear Piffka,

I've heard economists saying federal deficit a bigger risk than terrorism. The deficit has been dramatically increased by now, at the same time, Bush, the representative of the American plutocracy, preaching his "wonderful" tax cut for plutocrats. I wonder the secret of his magic gourd. Very Happy

Your description of the course that the sages took seems to remind me of that you want to be one of them. Am I on the right track?

The ideas of some poets who lived in feudal ages had, of course, their historical limitation. Because in those days, a cedar-made cloak is their macintosh, and it was natural that the son of Earth worshipped the son of Heaven (emperor).

"Jiang" in Chinese refers to "river". Yes, that is Oujiang River.

The flowers looks much like camellias. Please compare to the picture (camellias, of course):

http://new.cphoto.net/chinese/abc/cengwenxin/04-2.jpg

Best,
Oristar
0 Replies
 
Piffka
 
  1  
Reply Thu 24 Mar, 2005 09:33 am
Dear Oristar,
The gourd is his head and not magic at all. A previous president, Reagan, did a similar thing with the deficit -- it turned out he was truly losing his mind. The absurdity of this government would be more amusing if we had more than one life to squander on foolish things.

As for me, I am not looking at sage aspirations, but I'm willing to work at a patch of rosemary or sweet basil. Very Happy In the years I have left, I would like them to be pleasant and filled with joy. For me, that means reading literature, enjoying the natural world and ignoring the excesses of humans. I am pushed by my conscience to "do my duty" and help others, so I spend a small part of my time doing that.

Because much of the ancient Chinese literature is turned towards the bright light of an emperor figure, do you think in our readings we can use that figure as a symbol? What would you say it was -- pure truth, pure power, or something else?

I have never tried a cedar cloak -- maybe they are more comfortable than they look. Very Happy

Are you able to walk along the river bank of the Oujiang? Just a kilometer away... that could be reached in a walk of less than ten minutes.

Do you prefer the single-flowered camellia?

Best,
Piffka

I was at a meeting last night and someone read a poem by this author. (It is good to go to meetings where people read poems, don't you think?) I knew the poem that was read & the poet, but I like this poem better. I am already looking forward to summer, four days past the spring equinox........

The Summer Day
Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean--
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down--
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
0 Replies
 
oristarA
 
  1  
Reply Sun 27 Mar, 2005 08:57 am
Dear Piffka,

To tell the truth, the main factor that has greatly impaired the American economy is 911 attacks and the mistaken judgement made by the CIA and Congress that Iraq had WMD. The misjudgement led to the launch of the Iraq war and has since been dragging the American economy to the edge of a cliff. Compared to this factor, Bush's tax cut seems nothing.

It sounds that you've poetically arranged your rest of life. I think the lifestyle is practising the theory that humans are the integral part of nature, so you feel you have to "do my duty". That is perfect. Very Happy

Yeah, I supposed, for example that the Emperor Taizong of the Tang Dynasty can be considered a symbol of the pure truth, pure power in ancient China.

The bank of Oujiang river in our district looks a bit ugly. With the turbid water running in the river, you can hardly find a romantic walking along the bank, except Jiangbin Road that is not in my area.

For me, I prefer the question -- what made of the one who made of the world. I also looking forward to summer.

Best,
Oristar
0 Replies
 
Piffka
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 Apr, 2005 10:02 am
Dear Oristar,
This current government of Bush should be called to account for their mistakes & misjudgments... that is what I think. I don't believe the FBI had much to do with the WMD debacle --they can only operate (legally) within the borders of his country.

When you mentioned humans being an integral part of nature, I realized that though it is such a large part of my life and so omnipresent, I somehow forgot to mention Embarrassed in my life's arrangement how much I do to maintain close relations within my family. I am not an island. Getting my kids "launched" in the world is very important. I want them to feel good about their choices. I am the one in this family who makes sure everything is done, everyone is ready and plans are being made. Very Happy A big job.

I wonder -- how much have you arranged your life vs. taken it as it comes? Do you have specific goals you are working towards? From what I've read of your city, it is an important hub of international commerce. That's good. I imagine you there, feeling very happy and very busy.

The summer which I have wished for seems to have drawn away. We've had weather more like the winter (which we didn't have) than early spring. <hurumph> Everybody talks about it, but nobody does anything about the weather. Just a few days ago we were thinking summer might be just around the corner... and now it seems far away. I note however, that your city seems to be about twenty degrees (F) warmer. Lucky you!

I know better than to wait for summer. All of a sudden it will be here and I want to have my planting & chores done and be ready to sit in the garden and enjoy the sun & soft breezes. I particularly like to do that on the edges of the day... the early mornings and evening times.

My camellia bush looks frowsy and a blanket of browning pink petals lie on the ground. If it weren't raining, I'd be out there with a rake, clearing away the sad debris. I've bought some new plants -- culinary herbs -- which I am having to delay planting until the ground is not so heavy. I live on glacial till, held together with clay... not very good for gardening without a lot of additions to the soil. Hmmm, that is where the "output" from my mare comes in handy. You probably thought Pearl was just a pet... aha! :wink:


Best,
Piffka

The Little Rain

Oh! she is good, the little rain! and well she knows our need
Who cometh in the time of spring to aid the sun-drawn seed;
She wanders with a friendly wind through silent nights unseen,
The furrows feel her happy tears, and lo! the land is green.

Last night cloud-shadows gloomed the path that winds to my abode,
And the torches of the river-boats like angry meteors glowed.
To-day fresh colours break the soil, and butterflies take wing
Down broidered lawns all bright with pearls in the garden of the King.

Du Fu/ Tu Fu
(from A Lute of Jade by L. Cranmer-Byng)
0 Replies
 
oristarA
 
  1  
Reply Sat 23 Apr, 2005 08:42 am
Dear Piffka,

I've been trying to get "A Place Called Hope". Very Happy

I'll see you later.

Best,
Oristar
0 Replies
 
oristarA
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 May, 2005 08:55 am
Dear Piffka,

The little rain tastes a bit bitter to me, but it still seems a good rain. And with the sunshine, verdure begins flourishing here. Thank God, I think my cheerful mood has now recovered after a month of gloomy time. Very Happy

I haven't known much about what you've done for your family. But from the outline in which you depicted your honor and duty for your family, obviously you are a wise mother.

I believe there has been a great difference between our fates. If your life could have been well-arranged by yourself, I'd envy you greatly. So many times in my life the tough environments have forced me to struggle a way out. I could not take it as it came, or I'd have been swallowed down by the boundless darkness. Thankfully, I think the darkest time in my life is over. Very Happy

With the romantic imagination, you described the possible happy scenarios for me. I thank your kindness. But an international hub in China might be very different to that of the US, I supposed?

Best,
Oristar
0 Replies
 
Piffka
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 May, 2005 10:12 am
Dear Oristar,

I am very glad to see you back. Thank you for your PM. I have worried about you and your health, but I did not want to fill up your thread with my hand-wringing posts. Yes, I am a doting mother and spend my energies on my children who are now nearly grown. If you could be one of "my chicks," I would work to ensure that your life be as happy as possible. It is what mothers do if they can.

It is said that fate is neither kind nor fair. While each of us has our dark times... the shades of gray vary greatly, I know. From the depths of your posts I can see you are intelligent and educated and a good person. You have the capacity to succeed in anything you do. But, you must keep your health... your health... and a belief that things will get better. When you are unhappy, then any joy I have is diminished.

So, dear friend, I worry about you. I think you are correct -- your "international hub" is very different from my rural existence. Your country is not like mine either, but there is hope and there is freedom to be found. I am sure of it. Would you want my life? My life is small & quiet wth few demands and little ambition. It is a little boring. It is the life of a recluse (or possibly one who is a little lazy). It is not the life for a young person with high goals. Here is the creature who demands the most of me -- a badly-trained draft horse. (At least she is friendly.)

http://k.domaindlx.com/Piffka/Pearl.JPG

Best,
Piffka


_ _ _ _ _

The world forgetting, by the world forgot.
Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!
(from Eloise to Abelard)

The time shall come, when free as seas or wind
Unbounded Thames shall flow for all mankind,
Whole nations enter with each swelling tyde,
And seas but join the regions they divide;
Earth's distant ends our glory shall behold,
And the new world launch forth to seek the old.
(from Windsor Forest)

Alexander Pope
(1688-1744)
0 Replies
 
 

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