Poems of Mi Fu
Fewer Words on Magnolia Blossoms
(From a tower by flowing waters, sent to Zhao Boshan)
Amid the clouds, a brilliant moon
paints ten thousand silver strokes on Huai River.
On Haidai tower, I shake my sleeves in anger
at the heroes who open Chu's cliffs to the wind.
I am drunk on this clear night
as master strategists enter the picture.
With Yangzi River distant and Huai River long,
I salute the old heroes who were crazier when sober.
Remember that, metaphorically, Chu is Song. Opening Chu's cliffs to the wind is to weaken the defense of Song against the Jin. In some ways, I think the Song poets are self-deceived by nostalgia for the Tang. They want political stability like the Tang, forgetting the Tang's stability was about like the Song's -- starting out well and getting much worse over time. They want to be Du Fu, forgetting how messed up Du Fu's life was in the chaotic ebb and flow of Tang disasters and rebellions. Song poetry is kind of a big pity party. The poetic forms have been freed up from the constraints of Tang regulated verse. But this freedom began in the Tang with the advent of the New Lyric Poetry of Bai Juyi and the Lyric style of Wen Tingyun. By the time of the Song, there was so much freedom, it seems to me that they begin to get lost in it, just muddling about. More cleverness than beauty is what it leads to in the end.