When the busy work of day is done. A leisurely Autumn walk to the mountains outside Chang’an. Transcending time and place, we are once again treated to a spectacular view of maple leaves covered in frost on a mountainside, colorfully glittering in the twilight. As beauty is constructed in each person’s mind, it exists only in the individual’s image of things.
Far above on a steep rocky trail
Where fleecy clouds gather and families are few
I stop and sit to admire maples trees in the twilight
Gazing at red frosted leaves glowing like February’s flowers
Walking in the Mountains, Du Mu
远 上 寒 山 石 径 斜
白 云 生 处 有 人 家
停 车 坐 爱 枫 林 晚
霜 叶 红 于 二 月 花
yuǎn shàng hán shān shí jìng xié
báiyún shēng chù yǒu rén jiā
íng chē zuò ài fēnglín wǎn
shuāng yè hóng yú èr yuè huā
Shānxíng, Du Mu
Du Mu (杜牧, 803-c. 852), courtesy name Muzhi, the shepherd, called “Little Du” to distinguish him from Du Fu. Late in his life he lived in the Fanchuan Villa, south of Chang’an. There he wrote more than 400 poems known as “Fanchuan Collected Works.”
Notes on Translation
Báiyún, 白 云, white clouds; ài, 爱, treasure, love, admire; wǎn, 晚, evening; fēnglín, 枫 林, maple trees.
Shuāng yè hóng yú èr yuè huā (霜叶红于二月花) — the red frosted leaves like the flowers of spring. Keep in mind that the ancient Chinese calculated the months based on a lunar calendar and that the New Year could occur one to two months later than January 1. While there are many red flowers that bloom in Spring, the Rhododendron that blooms on the mountainside is one that readily comes to mind.