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黃庚《竹杖》 “Bamboo Staff” by Huang Geng (fl. 13th century)

一枝蒼節瘦,   A staff, thin with grey-green nodes, [1]

恰稱地行。   Aptly nicknamed “Immortal on the Earth”.

不但挑詩巻,   Not only does [it] bear scrolls of poetry,

尤堪掛酒。   But also [it] carries money for drinks. [2]

看梅敲雪落,   Gazing upon plum blossoms, [one may] tap on the snow [with it];

引鶴卓苔穿。   Drawing cranes behind [oneself], [one may] pierce the thick moss [with it].

莫近葛陂水,   Never go near the Kudzu Pond,

化龍蜚上[3] [Where it may] transform into a dragon, soaring up into the heavens. [4]


* From Huang Geng 黃庚 (fl. 13th century), Yuewu mangao 月屋漫稿, Wenyuange Siku Quanshu 文淵閣四庫全書 (Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1987) edition, vol. 1193, 21b:

 

[1] The wording of this line immediately evokes bamboo’s association with moral integrity. While depicting the physical appearance of the bamboo staff, the phrase cangjie shou 蒼節瘦 also implies extraordinary vigour despite the seeming lack of physical strength (as a result of old age).

[2] These two lines suggest that the staff can be used as a shoulder pole to carry bundles of books and strings of coins.      

[3] Red characters rhyme.

[4] Alluding to Fei Changfang 費長房, who got a magical bamboo staff from an exiled immortal in disguise and saw it turn into a dragon at the Kudzu Pond; see Ge Hong 葛洪 (283-343/364), Shenxian zhuan 神仙傳 (https://ctext.org/shen-xian-zhuan/9/hugong/zh), Fan Ye 范曄 (398-446), Hou Han shu 後漢書 (https://ctext.org/hou-han-shu/fang-shu-lie-zhuan-xia/zh), and a summary of the entertaining tale about Fei Changfang failing the test for becoming an immortal in Rafe De Crespigny, A Biographical Dictionary of Later Han to the Three Kingdoms (23-220 AD) (Leiden: Brill, 2007), 209-210.




"Zhuzhang chenglong" 竹杖成龍 (Bamboo staff turning into a dragon), hanging scroll by Xu Yang 徐揚 (fl. 18th century)

Image credit: National Palace Museum, Taipei


 

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