From Yang Wan-li: The feeling passes and I laugh to myself.

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  1. The train of thoughts accompanying that feeling move to the next stations, our sightseeing enriched, that feeling and those thoughts anew smiling at us. Or is it we the ones smiling, the feelings and thoughts replying?

  2. The full poem (translated by Jonathan Chaves) reads like this:
    Evening: Sitting in the Wo-chih Studio

    The room is stuffy and uncomfortable:
    I open a window to let in the cool air.
    Forest trees shade the sunlight;
    the inkstone on my desk glitters jade green.
    My hand reaches naturally for a book of poetry
    and I read some poems out loud.

    The ancients had a mountain of sorrows
    but my heart is as calm as a river.
    If I am different from them,
    how is it that they move me so deeply?

    The feeling passes and I laugh to myself.
    Outside a cicada urges on the sunset.

    [On my reading, the feeling is ephemeral and does not disturb the calm surface of the poet’s heart. He allows it to pass by and then disappear. As the Buddha, he laughs at the momentary upheaval, which never disturbs his peace. The feeling is not rejected: it is enjoyed and becalmed.]

  3. Thanks, Michael, for the forest. For, the tree felt lonely, as usual. The piece is fine, and you have a point, I think. It would be great to know the language to understand “the” feeling and the “feeling” or at least receive it in a more familiar way. Despite our being strangers toward this language: Affectivity and a kind of urspr√ľngliche Stimmung (mood perhaps?) creep in from the very beginning and turn the balance. The poet is affected: stuffy room, no air to breath, all perceptions at play, and then not only affected but also “deeply moved”. Calm river!? Maybe rivers are different in China or differently perceived… If so, then “the feeling” is something else, on the surface and derivative? A thought could also pass by and be as ephemeral, after all. Or, the poet is not interested in drawing a division between thoughts and feelings?
    That said, you have seen the forest, or experienced the poet’s Heaven and Earth, to know better. Just, perhaps out of my habitual overhaste, do not turn the poet into a Stoic without further ado.

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