Written at My Summer House during a Rainy Season

Wang, Wei (700 A.D.-761 A.D.)

During a rainy season in the quiet woods
The smoke from cooking fires rises later than normal.
Cooked vegetables and grilled corn are being transported to the eastern field.
White egrets fly over the expansive water-filled rice paddies.
Orioles chirp among the shady summer trees.
I practice meditation on the mountain by watching the flowers that bloom and die in one day 1.
I cook my meal under a pine tree after picking dewy vegetables.
My guests and I contend for a better seat 2.
I wonder why the seagulls act so wary and keep their distance 3.

1 These flowers symbolize the continuous changes of a human life.

2 Chuang Tze's chapter of fables records the following story: Chu Yang went to see Lao-tze. People in the hotels treated him like an important guest and gave up their seats to him. After Yang learned Taoism from Lao-tze, people in the hotels treated him like a close friend and fought for the seat that he was going to take. This is because he had shed his haughty manners and kept no distance between himself and others.

3 Lie Zi's chapter about Emperor Huang records the following story: A boy lived by the seashore. Seagulls came and stayed close to him. After his father learned of this, he ordered his son to capture the seagulls. The boy went to the seashore again. However, he discovered that the seagulls no longer came close to him.