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“Yunlong shanque” 筠籠山雀 (The mountain tit in the bamboo cage)

“Yunlong shanque” 筠籠山雀 (The mountain tit in the bamboo cage), anonymous artist of the Southern Song dynasty (1127-1279), inscription by Jiaqing Emperor 嘉慶 (1760-1820, ruling 1796-1820)

Picture credit: National Palace Museum, Taipei

編竹成樊籠, Bamboo is woven into a cage

怡情置山。 [There] to place a mountain tit for amusement.

毛羽難奮飛, Unable to spread its wings,

棲條愁束。 [It] perches on the bar, frowning at the constraint.

未感稻粱恩, No gratitude for the grains bestowed;

拂性非所。 What runs against nature brings no pleasure.

好友相招呼, A friend calling it over,

振翅思騰。 [It] flutters its wings, intending to leap out.

既受養育慈, Having received the kindness of nurture,

奚能如野。 How can it live like a wild crane? [1]

境遇安其常, [One] makes peace with the norm of any circumstance:

格物理咸[2] The investigation of things [3] always follows [this] principle.

[1] Red characters rhyme. [2] The image of yehe 野鶴 (wild crane) is often associated with Daoism, freedom, and reclusion. [3] Gewu 格物 (investigation of things) is a pivotal concept singled out by the eminent Neo-Confucianist Zhu Xi 朱熹 (1130-1200) from the Daxue 大學 (Great Learning). He believes the abstract li 理 (principal) lies within the world and the investigation of things constitutes a practical way of grasping the abstract via observing the concrete.

My new feeders that allow the birds to "receive the kindness of nurture" without staying in a cage. Some birds are just luckier than others!


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