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“Jiusheng huan yu” 鳩聲喚雨 by Shen Zhou 沈周 (1427-1506)

“Jiusheng huan yu” 鳩聲喚雨 by Shen Zhou 沈周 (1427-1506)






To no avail [I] hear a host of a hundred birds

Chirping through seasons of coldness and heat,

Unlike the jiu-pigeon at the branch tip

Whose calls can summon rain.[2]

By Shen Zhou

[1] Red characters rhyme. [2] The pigeon here refers to banjiu 斑鳩 (Streptopelia), whose activities are closely associated with rainfall in Chinese literature. In his magisterial commentary on animals and plants in the Shijing 詩經, Lu Ji 陸璣 (261-303) notes that male banjiu chase away their wives when it is about to rain and call them back when it is clear again; see Lu Ji, Maoshi caomu niaoshou chongyu shu 毛詩鳥獸草木蟲魚疏:

A young wood pigeon I found in the garden a few days ago. As it happens, rain finally fell in southwestern France over the weekend after weeks of scorching heat.

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