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蘇大 《山房睡起》“Waking up in a Hillside Chamber” by Su Da (fl. 14th century)





Grasses by the steps grow furry, the stone path aslant,

River sand on the bamboo hedge and in the thatched hut.

Waking up during a long day with innumerable sentiments,  

[My] eyes wander through all the flowers of Indian pokeweeds in the shade. [2]

* From Zhang Yuzhang 張豫章 (fl. 17th century) et al. eds., Song Jin Yuan Ming sichaoshi 宋金元明四朝詩, Wenyuange Siku Quanshu 文淵閣四庫全書 (Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1987) edition, vol. 1444, 105.19a.


[1] Red characters rhyme.

[2] Shanglu 商陸 (Phytolacca acinosa) is widely found in East Asia; its roots, sometimes mistaken for ginseng, are poisonous to humans. In Chinese literature, it is often associated with cuckoos because, as the ancient proverb suggests, cuckoos cry no more when the fruits of the Indian pokeweed are ripe (商陸子熟,杜鵑不哭). The symbolic meaning of cuckoos - sorrow, separation, and the yearning for home – is hinted at in the last two lines.

The Indian pokeweed in a friend's garden


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