Inscription on the Wall of the Post Station North of Da-yu
Song, Zhi-wen 2 (656-713 CE)
It is said that when south-bound wild geese reach here in October,
They fly no further and return north in Spring 3.
It is still a long way to the place of my exile.
When can I return home?
The river is calm after the tide ebbs.
The forest is gloomy and the noxious mist does not dissipate
Tomorrow morning from the place where I will look toward home
I shall be able to see the plum blossoms 6 on the mountain peak.
1 Da-yu Mountain is located in present day Da-you-xian County in Jiangxi
Province. There are many plum trees on the mountain, so it is also known as Plum
Mountain. During Song's time, Da-yu Mountain was a dividing line between
civilization and a primitive region. This is why Song felt so sad about his
2 Shao-lian and Yan-qing were Zhi-wen Song's other first names. Zhi-wen Song
was a native of Fen-zhou City (present day Fen-yang City in Shanxi Province)
during the Tang dynasty. He passed the Advanced Exam in 675 CE. At the peak of
his career, he was the Deputy Minister of Examination Affairs. Later, Emperor
Rui-zong accused him of obsequiously serving Princess Tai-ping (peace) and Yi-zhi
Zhang, the prime minister of the late Empress Ze-tian Wu who usurped the Tang
dynasty. Consequently, the emperor banished Song to Qin-zhou City and later
ordered his death. It can be said that Zhi-wen Song was the victim of a power
3 Song's exile destination was Qin-zhou City (South of Qin-zhou City in
Guangxi Province) near the Southern Sea. Song felt that his situation was worse
than that of a wild goose. He had to travel very far to a primitive land.
Furthermore, he was given no specific date to return.
4 This line and the previous one describe Song's feelings. The previous line
says that the river has a time to be calm, but his agitated thoughts never calm
down. This line says that the noxious vapor, like the melancholy in his mind,
does not dissipate.
5 The next day Song wrote another poem called "Crossing Da-yu Mountain". It
"When I passed through Da-yu Mountain leaving my homeland behind,/ I stopped my
carriage to look toward home."
6 "The plum blossoms" is a double entendre. When Song looked toward home the
next morning, his heart would burst with joy just as blossoms of plum trees