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Calligraphy and Poem by Huang Tingjian


Huang Tingjian (1045-1105)




Two Poems on Playing Chess Presented to Ren Gongjian (first poem)



By chance we've no government business and the guests have retired;

We armchair strategists compare our wits in a game of chess.

Our minds are spider webs floating through the empyrean's void,

Our bodies, moulted cicada shells, cast off on a withered branch.

"One-eyed" like the King of Xiandong, we willingly perish in battle;

Our chess "empire" is divided in two, and we can both hold out forever.

Who says that we humans always worry about time's onslaught?

We don't even know that Orion is dipping and the moon set long ago!


(translation by J.D. Schmidt, Stone Lake: The Poetry of Fan Chengda)