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Contemplating “Return”: Xie Lingyun’s “Hillside Garden”

In: Journal of Chinese Humanities
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  • 1 Associate Professor of Department of Asian Languages and Literature, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA
Open Access

Abstract

Xie Lingyun was the first of China’s great nature poets. As the most celebrated poet in fifth-century China and a histrionic scion of the illustrious Xie clan of the Eastern Jin, he had cultural influence that extended beyond the literary into religion and philosophy. This article examines Xie’s poetic exploration of the concept of “return” – an important rhetorical trope throughout the history of Chinese literature. By close reading, annotating, and analyzing a selection of Xie’s poems, the article sheds light on the poet’s obsession with instability in the meaning of “return” and argues that beneath the compliant poetic surface lies a saliently dissenting voice. Xie’s distinctive imagery and ideation emerge from an intricate deployment of earlier texts, among which the Classic of Changes is of paramount importance.

Abstract

Xie Lingyun was the first of China’s great nature poets. As the most celebrated poet in fifth-century China and a histrionic scion of the illustrious Xie clan of the Eastern Jin, he had cultural influence that extended beyond the literary into religion and philosophy. This article examines Xie’s poetic exploration of the concept of “return” – an important rhetorical trope throughout the history of Chinese literature. By close reading, annotating, and analyzing a selection of Xie’s poems, the article sheds light on the poet’s obsession with instability in the meaning of “return” and argues that beneath the compliant poetic surface lies a saliently dissenting voice. Xie’s distinctive imagery and ideation emerge from an intricate deployment of earlier texts, among which the Classic of Changes is of paramount importance.

Xie Lingyun 謝靈運 [385–433] came from one of the most distinguished aristocratic families of the Eastern Jin [317–420]. The Xie ancestral home in the north was in Yangjia 陽夏 County, Chen Commandery, in present-day Taikang 太康, Henan. The family moved south after the fall of the Western Jin [265–317]. They established an estate in the area of Guiji 會稽 (present-day Shangyu, Zhejiang, east of Shaoxing).1

The most accomplished member of the Xie clan was Xie An 謝安 [320–385], who at the climax of his career thwarted the attempted invasion by Fu Jian 苻堅 [338–385] in the Fei River Battle in 383.2 Xie An, as a cultural hero, triumphed not through brute force but moral and spiritual excellence. Michael Rogers posits: “Xie An’s legend does not depict an isolated great man, hurling challenge into the teeth of fate and commanding the tides of history; his heroics are of gentler order, and seem to be predicated of him more as a member of a collectivity than as an individual…. they convincingly dramatized a great cultural ideal the Southern Dynasties: the inevitable triumph of spirit over brute force.”3 Xie An was the perfect embodiment of what Charles Holcombe calls a “new cultural balance” admired by the Eastern Jin literati.4 The new ideal personhood, adopting terms from the Zhuangzi 莊子 such as the “divine one” [shenren 神人]5 or the “true man” [zhenren 真人],6 cuts across the boundaries of so-called Confucian ethics, Daoist philosophy, and Buddhist-Daoist spiritual mysticism.7 At the heart of this new idealism is the virtue of passivity and quietism. Xie was the most outstanding figure in the fourth century, and his “returning/retiring” [gui ] to the Eastern Mountains 東山 made him the living example of Eastern Jin ideal personhood.8

The Eastern Mountains in Guiji came to embody the monumental merit of “yielding” [rang ], for which the Xie clan would be remembered.9 Xie Lingyun wrote two poems praising Xie An and An’s nephew Xie Xuan 謝玄 [343–388], who was Xie Lingyun’s grandfather and the commander-in-chief in the Fei River Battle.10 Their retirement in the Eastern Mountains, shortly after having triumphed and saved the Jin, recalls the heroic conduct and moral rectitude of the high-minded recluses in the Zhou dynasty [1046–256 BCE].11 Politically and militarily, the Xie descendants could not replicate the success of Xie An and Xie Xuan. Yet, through literary excellence, the cultured way of the Xie clan was propagated. The virtues of passivity and quietism as embodied in the concept of “return” were articulated the most eloquently in Xie Lingyun’s poetry.

In this article, we look closely at a few of Xie Lingyun’s poems and focus on the instability of the meaning of “return.” We argue that beneath the compliant poetic surface of “return” is a saliently dissenting voice that is critical of the military court that replaced Jin. Xie’s distinctive imagery and ideation about “return” emerge from an intricate deployment of earlier texts, among which the Classic of Changes [Yijing 易經], the Classic of Poetry [Shijing 詩經], and the Zhuangzi are of paramount importance in creating meaning.

First, a brief word on the life and career of Xie Lingyun before his 422 exile is in order. Known to his contemporaries as Duke Kangle 康樂公, Xie arrived in the capital Jiankang 建康 (present-day Nanjing) at the age of fifteen. He became a legendary figure whose “picturesque” life and “flamboyant and unrestrained” style made him the ultimate eccentric in the fifth century.12 When he first entered court service, Xie Lingyun followed his uncle Xie Hun 謝混 [381–412], the youngest of Xie An’s grandsons, who was married to an imperial princess. Unfortunately, Xie Lingyun soon lost his powerful ally as, in 412, Liu Yu 劉裕 [Emperor Gaozu 高祖, r. 420–422] rose to power and put Xie Hun to death.13 Xie Lingyun’s life was probably spared on account of his usefulness in decorating and legitimizing Liu Yu’s power and ambition to the throne.14 In April 413, Liu Yu appointed Xie Lingyun as the imperial librarian – a sinecure that had no significant advisory duties.15 From the beginning, Xie Lingyun seemed recalcitrant in his services to Liu Yu, who nevertheless tolerated the young man, perhaps reserving him for ceremonial roles.16 In the winter of 416, Liu Yu embarked on a northern campaign, for which he commissioned Xie Lingyun to compose a fu poem. Instead of properly singing praises of Liu Yu, the laudatory message in Xie Lingyun’s fu is mostly about Xie An.17 Whether Xie Lingyun deliberately missed the mark on this important commission is beyond the scope of this article. Suffice it to say here that our poet’s literary design cannot be called transparent or superficial.

In 418 Liu Yu hosted a large gathering at his military base in Pengcheng 彭城 (present-day Xuzhou, Jiangsu) to celebrate the victory of the northern campaign. By then, he had been made the Duke of Song 宋公. Liu Yu rewarded court officials by conferring on them new titles and positions. Xie was appointed the gentleman attendant at the palace gate and gentleman councilor of the inner court, entrusted with ceremonial duties and functions.18 The Pengcheng celebration anticipated Liu Yu’s ascension to power. A reading of two of the poems commissioned for the occasion shed light on some of the subtler feelings Xie Lingyun might have harbored about Liu Yu’s imminent usurpation of the Jin throne. Expressions of concern and reservation are couched in a poetic exposition on the theme “return” from multiple perspectives.

On the Double Ninth Day, Attending the Farewell Assembly Hosted by the Duke of Song at the Cavalry Terrace in Honor of Secretariat Director Kong [Jiuri cong Songgong ximatai ji song Kongling shi 九日從宋公戲馬臺集送孔令詩]19

As the title suggests, this poem was composed for a celebratory banquet on the Double-Ninth Festival of the fourteenth year of the Yixi 義熙 period [405–418] (October 24, 418) in honor of Kong Jing 孔靖 [347–422], a long-time councilor and supporter of Liu Yu.40 Kong Jing had served as a councilor and libationer for the army in Liu Yu’s campaign to recover the northern capitals of Chang’an and Luoyang.41 For his contributions, Kong Jing was promoted to director of the Imperial Secretariat [shangshu ling 尚書令]. Instead of accepting the position, Kong Jing asked to “retire/return” to his estate in Guiji, which was granted. In order to honor Kong Jing’s retirement, a banquet was held at Xima tai 戲馬臺.42

Kong Jing’s “returning” recalls Xie An’s voluntary renunciation of power, and it invites an interpretation with more than one dimension. Could Kong Jing’s demurral of service imply disapproval of Liu Yu’s power grab and, therefore, a refusal to pay loyalty to the general-cum-usurper?43 Gui [to return] appears in early classical texts to denote “loyalty.” To “return/retire” implies a rejection [qi ] of the reigning ruler, who is deemed unsuitable or unbenevolent.44 As a literary theme, “to return” as a potential expression of political dissent can be traced back to the Classic of Poetry and culminated in the literary works in the Selections of Refined Literature [Wenxuan 文選].45 The prevalent use of gui (a word that is inherently multivalent), however, may also have blunted its politically jarring message. Laments to “return” would develop in the direction of praise of the natural landscape, that is, a pristine world far away from the entangled network of society and politics.

The ceremonial farewell gathering may have been a savvy move by Liu Yu to thwart any unpleasant implication of Kong Jing’s retirement. Commenting on the occasion, the History of Liu-Song [Songshu 宋書] states: “[Kong Jing] declined the appointment to return east. The emperor hosted a banquet to bid him farewell at the Cavalry Terrace. All officials [were asked] to compose a verse to praise this.”46 This official account, referring to Liu Yu as Emperor Gaozu, speaks to the intended function of the Xima tai banquet, that is, to enforce and ensure a unifying narrative about Kong Jing’s “return/retirement” by laying out a pretext for “praising” Liu Yu, the soon-to-be usurper.

In the following discussion, we first look at Xie Lingyun’s poem, which through intertextual references presents a complex and complicated interpretive space of “return.” By presenting the sophisticated textual map of signification, we determine whether the poet fulfills his prescribed compositional purpose, that is, to offer “praise” to Liu Yu.

Collected in the Selections of Refined Literature under the category of “Lord’s Feast,” Xie Lingyun’s poem shares some characteristics of “Lord’s Feast” [gongyan 公讌] poetry.47 For example, the opening stanza (lines 1–4) describes the season and scenery as an introduction to the poetic occasion, which, in this case, is a grand gathering in a bordertown in desolate autumn. They mention images from nature that are conventionally constructed as indices of human emotions in responding to social-political events. Late autumn in line 1 might suggest a decline in the “kingly way,” that is, humane government.48 Frost and snow might denote hardship endured by soldiers in the campaign [zhengfu 征夫]. Migrant geese and withering grass are “evocative imagery” [xing ] associated with displacement and death.49 The backdrop as described in the first stanza obliquely refers to Liu Yu’s recent northern campaign, and yet the poetic tone can hardly be described as laudatory. Line 3 touches on the theme of “return” by alluding to “The Fourth Month [Si yue 四月],” number 204 in Mao’s Book of Songs [Maoshi 毛詩], which is a lament about “turmoils and troubles” [luanli 亂離]. One could argue that it lacks explicit criticism. But ambiguity alone is sufficient to alert a reader who is accustomed to subtle suggestions.50 To the educated elite, this poem would call to mind the familiar cry of woe by a displaced soldier: “Alas, to where can we return?”51

In the Classic of Poetry, a trooper’s complaint, together with related types of scenes, such as “distressed/deserted wife” [sifu 思婦, qifu 棄婦], “[yearning] to return” [sigui 思歸], and “hardship on the road” [xinglu nan 行路難], constitute the most striking expression of the Zhou experiences with war. For example, “Eastern Mountain [Dong shan 東山],” poem 156 in Mao’s Book of Songs, is a lyrical account of the Duke of Zhou’s three-year campaign to the east of the Taihang 太行 mountains from the soldier’s perspective.52 Also, a slate of poems sings of the campaigns carried out by King Xuan of Zhou 周宣王 [r. 828–782 BCE]: #167 “Cai wei 采薇,” #168 “Chu che 出車,” #169 “Di du 杕杜,” #177 “Liu yue 六月,” #178 “Cai qi 采芑,” #179 “Che gong 車攻,” #234 “He cao bu huang 何草不黃,”53 etc. Most of these poems are traditionally interpreted as praise of King Xuan’s military achievements, which helped restore the way of early Zhou founders. Xie Lingyun’s choice of poem 204 in Mao’s Book of Songs, intertextually speaking, is interesting if not somewhat surprising, as it seems to indicate a critical instead of eulogistic overtone.

Poem 204 is the fourth in a suite of ten poems with poem 201, “Valley Wind [Gufeng 谷風],” a motif for wife’s complaint, as the title piece.54 Commenting on the purpose of the poem, the preface reads: “This is to criticize King You of Zhou 周幽王 during whose reign the customs of the world worsened and the way of conviviality and friendship declined.”55 As such, line 3 could be read as an indirect comparison of Liu Yu to one of the most notorious ancient kings at a declining age. The image of a deep pool in line 4 is important, as it denotes the contemplative mind. Is this the reflective mind of a poet whose innermost thoughts are at the same time hidden and manifest, depending on the audience?

The second stanza of the poem describes the banquet scene. The use of “sagacious mind” [shengxin 聖心] in line 5 is a reference to the host Liu Yu. Commentators have noted that sheng is usually reserved for describing the king or emperor. Does this suggest that, at the time of composition, Liu Yu’s imperial ambition had already been acknowledged and accepted? The answer is most likely yes, as the same reference is used in another poem written for the same occasion.56 The author was Xie Lingyun’s cousin, Xie Zhan 謝瞻 [387–421].57 The poem by Xie Zhan, also titled “On the Double Ninth Day, Attending the Farewell Assembly Hosted by the Duke of Song at the Cavalry Terrace in Honor of Secretariat Director Kong,” is a shorter piece of eighteen lines.58

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Citation: Journal of Chinese Humanities 7, 3 (2021) ; 10.1163/23521341-12340118

Xie Zhan’s third stanza corresponds to Xie Lingyun’s second stanza in describing the banquet with similarly decorated vocabulary typical of the “Lord’s Feast” genre. Sheng is used to refer to Liu Yu – likely a requirement for the commissioned literary presentation. Throughout the poem, Xie Zhan maintains an unequivocally eulogistic tone. The piece opens by alluding to “Seventh Month [Qiyue 七月],” poem 154 – a song of praise to the Duke of Zhou – one of the most venerated political figures in the Chinese tradition.71 Further, Xie Zhan’s allusion to the Zuo Commentaries [Zuo zhuan 左傳] in line 5 lauds Liu Yu’s campaign for wiping out illegitimate and unstable regimes that had plagued the north. The geese imagery in line 6 is associated with servicemen’s submission to Liu Yu, instead of their struggle, as is the case in Xie Lingyun’s line 2. In sum, Xie Zhan’s poetic praise of Liu Yu is uncomplicated and unreserved. His celebratory tone culminates in the imagery in lines 7 and 8: “Wisps of rosy clouds crown the autumn sun; / Swift gusts from the west flit by the ethereal firmament.” Needless to say, heaven and the sun both refer to Liu Yu as the highest power. Xie Zhan concludes the poem with appropriately congratulatory remarks to honor Kong Jing’s retirement. Overall, it was competent and uncontroversial.72

In comparison, Xie Lingyun’s poem, to which we now return, invites nuanced readings through its use of opaque allusions. The most intriguing feature of Xie Lingyun’s poetry is his intertextual reference to the Classic of Changes.73 They are critical for decoding the ambivalent tone in this piece. For example, line 9 refers to Hexagram 64, “Ferrying Incomplete [Weiji 未濟]” as follows: “The banquet is hosted to inspire confidence and trust.” Youfu 有孚 [to have/inspire confidence] alludes to the Fifth Yin [ 六五 or 6/5] and Top Yang [ 上九 or 9/6] of Hexagram 64. The statement for the Fifth Yin reads: “Rectitude brings good fortune. No regret. The light of the nobleman evokes confidence. Good fortune.”74 The statement for Top Yang reads: “With confidence, we drink. There is no blame. Yet one might get his head wet. For the one evoking confidence, in this, he missteps.”75 The intertextual background suggests a conditioned “confidence and trust,” as “misstep” due to arrogance or self-indulgence may be imminent. Hence a tone of caution in line 9.76 The Commentary on the Image [xiangzhuan 象傳] of 9/6 further supports this reading: “In drinking, one gets his head wet. This is not knowing propriety.”77 Call for prudence is noted also in the Commentary to Judgment [tuanzhuan 彖傳] and Commentary on the Image of Hexagram 64. The former reads: “The little fox has almost ferried across. He is not yet out of water.”78 The latter says: “Fire is positioned above water: this constitutes the image of Ferrying Incomplete. The nobleman [ought to] carefully distinguish among things and situate them in their correct places.”79 The overall message through Hexagram 64 is caution, which could have been Xie Lingyun’s assessment of Liu Yu’s ending of Jin. Still, Liu Yu may or may not have picked up on the message.80

The use of hexagrams gives Xie Lingyun’s piece an intriguing depth and complexity.81 As Zhang Yinan points out, the poet is inclined to use the Classic of Changes to establish correlations between events in real life and their principles as indicated in the image [xiang ].82 As such, the text and its imagery served as a practical guide in challenging and compromising situations. After all, it was through pragmatism, as Cynthia Chennault has posited, that the Xie clan had realized their speedy ascension to the top.83 For the thorny yet unavoidable question whether to serve [chuchu 出處] – that is, “whether to advance or withdraw” [jintui 進退] – the Hexagrams, with their Images and Commentaries, would have offered a reasoned if not always efficacious remedy.

In addition to Hexagram 64, Xie Lingyun alludes to Hexagram 22, Bi [Grace], in the penultimate line of his poem: “That marvelous Way of the Hillside Garden!” The term “hillside garden” [qiuyuan 丘園] is from the Judgment of the Fifth Yin [ 六五 6/5] of Bi: “This is the Grace of Hillside Garden. Bundles of silk. Meager. Ending is good.”84 Medieval commentators offered further insights into the image of Hillside Garden as indicating a good serviceman losing his position and yet it promises an “auspicious ending.”85 In classical texts, an “ending” [zhong ] refers saliently to death. “Auspicious ending” suggests that a timely retirement has the benefit of avoiding a violent death. Through Hexagram 22, Xie Lingyun praises Kong Jing’s “return” with a palpably envious tone. The poem ends with possibly conventional laments over one’s own “paltry virtue” and “lame pursuits,” but the poet’s true concern seems to be his inability to “return” in time and therefore avoid the unthinkable.

In April 422, Liu Yu’s health took a bad turn. Within two months, he would pass away. The power vacuum that was left resulted in the ousting of Xie Lingyun at the hands of the powerful minister of education, Xu Xianzhi 徐羨之 [364–426]. Xie was banished to the remote Yongjia 永嘉 (present-day Wenzhou, Zhejiang). The official account of the turn of the events reads as follows:

Xie Lingyun by nature was obdurately adamant. On various occasions, he violated rules and rituals. The court [of Liu Yu] only employed him on account of his literary talent and did not entrust him with significant duties in accord with his position. Xie Lingyun thought his talents would make him fit for participation in essential decision making. Since he was not appreciated, Xie Lingyun harbored resentment and indignation. Liu Yizhen, Prince of Luling, had been fond of writings and documents since a young age. He and Xie Lingyun were on better terms than usual when the Young Emperor [Liu Yu’s elder son, Yizhen’s elder brother] ascended the throne. Power lay with [certain] ministers. Xie Lingyun [was accused of having] formed cliques, influenced the opposing sides, and denigrated those in service. The minister of education, Xu Xianzhi, and others found him a calamity and then demoted him to the remote town of Yongjia.86

The prospect of going to Yongjia would have seemed daunting for Xie Lingyun, who had spent much of his adult life in the capital. He may have intentionally delayed the trip, and, when he finally was ready to embark on this distant journey, Xie Lingyun wrote the following poignant poem as a farewell note to his friends and relatives. In this piece, titled “Neighbors Sending Me Off at the Block Hill [Linli xiangsong fangshan 鄰里相送方山],”87 we catch a further glimpse of the poet’s view on “return,” which could mean a matter of life and death for the early medieval courtier serving in arguably the darkest time in history.

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Citation: Journal of Chinese Humanities 7, 3 (2021) ; 10.1163/23521341-12340118

It is somewhat ironic that now Xie Lingyun was the one being “sent off,” although not voluntarily. Instead of relying on opaque and obscure intertextual references, as seen in the “Double Ninth,” this farewell poem relies primarily on direct expressions for meaning. Xie Lingyun begins by referring to his departure from the capital and referring to his exile as a “respite” [qi ]. The second stanza conveys a mournful poetic mood through an effective depiction of desolate scenery. The soughing and sighing from a forest of withered trees seem to sympathize with the sad traveler. The bright moon, with its overflowing light, portrays the poet’s brimming emotions. In a heavy and yet restrained tone, the poet speaks of his intention to retire in lines 9–12, and the poem ends with an allusion to “Yearning to Return [Sigui fu 思歸賦],” by Lu Ji 陸機 [261–303].92

In surmising the impact of Xie Lingyun’s demotion and exile, Frodsham calls it the “turning point” when the “gay roisterer, the dashing man about town died forever.”93 The contemplative and morose tone of the farewell poem recalls the poet’s obsession with “return,” as seen in the Kong Jing piece. His envy of the old vassal’s timely “return,” which would allow him to live out his heavenly ordained years in the mountains of Guiji, would probably have become even stronger at this point in his life. His wish to follow in the footsteps of his ancestors to leave behind the treacherous changes in regimes seemed ever more unattainable. We detect a sense of desperation and despair in another parting poem written around the same time, and it has an unusually detailed title: “On the Sixteenth Day of the Seventh Month of the Third Year of the Yongchu Reign, I Set Out from the Capital to Travel to the Commandery [Yongchu sannian qiyue shiliu ri zhijun chufadu 永初三年七月十六日之郡初發都].”94

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In this poem, Xie Lingyun states in no uncertain terms his wish to retire from court service and “return” to the mountains. The opening couplet, in keeping with poetic convention, describes the occasion with a description of seasonal change. The second couplet depicts striking autumn scenery. In line 3, the riverbank, due to receding water, reveals a fresh outline in the light of dusk. The verb cheng here means to “purify,” referring at the same time to what water does to the riverbank and the effect of the evening light on everything in the vicinity. Heaven and earth connect through water – the essential element of the universe, whose incessant transformation becomes particularly evident to a poet who is sensitive to his surroundings after having experienced a sudden and life-changing event. As cold weather approaches, water particles coalesce at night to form dew drops, whose shimmering light reflects the shining Great Fire star. This wonderful sight saddens the exiled courtier. The poet speaks of his yearning for like-minded friends with textual references to Zhuangzi 莊子 [369–286 BCE] and Zengzi 曾子 [505–435 BCE] and comments on his banishment with two historical examples.104 The two farewell poems impressed the reader as emotive. The poet’s contemplation of “return” also seems to deepen in them.

On his river journey to serve in remote Yongjia, Xie Lingyun stopped by the Xie clan’s “old mountains” in Guiji and wrote a poem vowing to return before too long, “Passing through the Shining Estate [Guo shining shu 過始寧墅].”105

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When reading this poem, the reader might detect an ever-more salient theme of “return.” The poet expresses regret for having been caught up in worldly matters and now wishes to “return,” which goes beyond the conventional notions of “leaving court service and retiring.” Xie Lingyun’s “return” denotes the unattainable modest wish for a “good ending,” that is, to live out one’s heaven-ordained years and not to die prematurely or violently. After all, death is considered the “ultimate return” [dagui 大歸] and the final reversal to nature and the Way of nature.108 The image of elm and catalpa [fenjia 枌檟] trees, the raw material for the coffin, in the penultimate line suggests a natural ending in the Guiji mountains. Unlike Kong Jing, whose timely and wise withdrawal from Liu Yu’s court secured his person and posthumous reputation,109 Xie Lingyun, as we know, unfortunately, could not avoid the fate of dying a violent and ignoble death in one of the darkest centuries of Chinese history.110

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1

會稽 is often mistakenly pronounced “Kuaiji.” I use “Guiji,” which is the correct pronunciation according to the Guoyu cidian 國語辭典 [Mandarin Dictionary] (Taipei: Shangwu yinshu guan, 1959), 3.1388. See also Ci hai 辭海 for an explanation of the pronunciation Guiji and how Kuaiji, the erroneous pronunciation, was initially introduced in the notes to Zizhi tongjian 資治通鑑 [Comprehensive Mirror for Aid in Government], by Hu Sanxing 胡三省 [1230–1302], who used gong and wai as the fanqie 反切 for .

2

For a biography of Xie An, see Fang Xuanling 房玄齡 et al., Jin shu 晉書 [History of the Jin] (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1974), 79.2072–77. For a study of the image of Xie An, see Jean-Pierre Diény, Portrait anecdotique d’un gentilhomme chinois Xie An (320–385), d’après le Shishuo xinyu (Paris: Collège de France, Institut des Hautes Etudes Chinoises, 1993).

3

Michael Rogers, “The Myth of the Battle of the Fei River,” T’oung Pao 54.1 (1968): 71–72.

4

Charles Holcombe, “True Man,” in In the Shadow of the Han (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 1994), 126.

5

The term shenren 神人 appears throughout the Zhuangzi text, but most prominently in the first chapter. See Guo Qingfan 郭慶藩, annot., Zhuangzi jishi 莊子集釋 [Annotated Collection of the Zhuangzi] (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 2004), 1.17. I translate shen as “divine,” which denotes god or a godlike figure.

6

The term zhenren 真人 does not denote a separate category than shenren. It is a different name for the same thing. Another term zhiren 至人, also referring to the same godlike figure, appears in the first chapter of the Zhuangzi together with zhenren and shenren. The chapter “Da Zongshi 大宗師 [The Great and Most Honored Master]” has an extended discussion of zhenren, i.e., godlike figure from antiquity. See Guo Qingfan, Zhuangzi jishi, 3A.226–35.

7

See my “Fengliu yiwu Xie Kangle: shanshui, shanju, dili shuxie yihuo shi zhengzhi biaoshu 風流遺物謝康樂:山水、山居、地理書寫抑或是政治表述 [The Eccentric and Untrammeled Style of Xie Lingyun: Landscape Writing, Mountain Dwelling, or Political Discoursing],” in Zhonggu wenxue zhong de shi yu shi 中古文學中的詩與史 [Poetry and History in Early Medieval Literature], ed. Zhang Yue 張月 and Chen Yinchi 陳引弛 (Shanghai: Fudan daxue chubanshe, 2020).

8

Xie An spent his early years as a retired gentleman in the mountains. When he accepted office as the later usurper Huan Wen’s 桓溫 [312–373] sergeant-at-arms, Xie An was past forty. Shortly after the Battle of the Fei River, Xie An and other members of the Xie clan withdrew from court.

9

See Li Yanshou 李延壽, Nan shi 南史 [History of the Southern Dynasties] (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1975), 19.546.

10

See Xiao Tong 萧统, comp., Li Shan 李善, annot., Wen xuan 文選 [Selections of Refined Literature] (Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1986), 19.912.

11

Xiao Tong, Wen xuan, 19.912.

12

See J. D. Frodsham, The Murmuring Stream: The Life and Works of the Chinese Nature Poet Hsieh Ling-yün (385–433), Duke of K’ang-Lo (Kuala Lumpur: University of Malaya Press, 1967), 9.

13

Fang Xuanling, Jin shu, 79.2079. See also Frodsham, The Murmuring Stream, 10–18.

14

Cynthia Chennault notes the roles and functions of Eastern Jin elite families during the frequent changes in political authorities. According to Chennault, they positioned themselves at “center stage, prepared to carry out functions of large symbolic moment – such as presenting the imperial regalia at a new ruler’s investiture, memorializing ‘on behalf of the hundred officials’ to urge a usurper to the throne, and so forth.” Cynthia Chennault, “Lofty Gates or Solitary Impoverishment? Xie Family Members of the Southern Dynasties,” T’oung Pao 85.4–5 (1999): 257.

15

Shen Yue 沈約, Song shu 宋書 [History of Liu-Song] (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1974), 67.1743; Frodsham, The Murmuring Stream, 18. Xie Lingyun’s title at the time was administrator to the commander in chief and assistant director.

16

Chennault posits Liu Yu’s tolerance of Xie Lingyun in the following terms: “[In] patiently planning for the day when he would himself take the throne, Liu Yu realized that brute force was insufficient to his purpose. He would need to cultivate some measure of acceptance from the old guard families who populated the bureaucracy, from its middle ranks up” (Chennault, “Lofty Gates,” 271). Still, as Chennault points out, “Xie Lingyun’s headstrong temperament is always a source of worry for Liu Yu” (273, n62).

17

This “panegyric” fu was apparently considered an important political service Xie Lingyun rendered for Liu Yu and was later included in Xie Lingyun’s official biography. For the Chinese text, see Shen Yue, Song shu, 67.1744–53; for a translation, see Tian Xiaofei, Visionary Journeys: Travel Writings from Early Medieval and Nineteenth-Century China (Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2011), 287–340; for a study, see Jui-lung Su 蘇瑞隆, “Lun Xie Lingyun de Zhuan zheng fu 論謝靈運的《撰征賦》[On Xie Lingyun’s Zhuan zheng fu],” Wen shi zhe 文史哲, no. 5 (1990).

18

See Shen Yue, Song shu, 67.1753.

19

For the text, see Xiao Tong, Wen xuan, 20.960–61; for a translation, see Wu Fusheng, Written at Imperial Command: Panegyric Poetry in Early Medieval China (Albany: State University of New York, 2008), 79–80.

20

The last month of autumn is the ninth lunar month. The northern border refers to Pengcheng, which was located on the northern frontier of the Eastern Jin.

21

This line alludes to Mao shi 204/2 (“Si Yue 四月 [The Fourth Month]”): “The autumn days were bitterly cold; / All plants and grasses withered. Turmoils and troubles made me ill; / Where can we return?” [ 秋日淒淒,百卉具腓。亂離瘼矣,爰其適歸。] The theme of “turmoils and troubles” is born out with a scenery of the late autumnal deterioration. My translation of the line is influenced by Satō Masamitsu who makes the following observation. Xie Lingyun coined the phrase yanghui 陽卉 by replacing “autumnal” with “sunny” and creating a concrete sense of warmth and brightness. This allows the reader to imagine the encroaching cold autumn air. Satō Masamitsu 佐藤正光, “Xie Zhan, Xie Lingyun de wenxue yu tamen de zhouwei: dui Pengcheng Xima tai zhi yanyou ji zuopin de kaocha 謝瞻、謝靈運的文學與他們的周圍——對彭城戲馬台之宴遊及作品的考察 [The Literary Writings of Xie Zhan and Xie Lingyun with a Focus on Historical Background: An Examination of the Banquet Hosted at the Cavalry Terrace and the Literary Works Composed for the Occasion],” in Wei Jin Nanbeichao wenxue lunji 魏晉南北朝文學論集 [Collection of Studies of Wei-Jin and Southern Dynasties Literature], ed. Nanjing daxue Zhongguo yuyan wenxue xi 南京大學中國語言文學系 (Nanjing: Nanjing daxue chubanshe, 1997), 359. See also Mao Heng 毛亨, comm., Zheng Xuan 鄭玄, annot., Lu Deming 陸德明 phonetic commentary, and Kong Yingda 孔穎達, coll., “Mao shi zhengyi 毛詩正義 [Rectified Interpretation of the Mao’s Book of Songs],” in Shisanjing zhushu 十三經注疏 [Annotations and Commentaries of the Thirteen Classics], ed. Ruan Yuan 阮元 (Taipei: Yiwen yinshuguan, 1965), 13.442b.

22

Note that the phrase hantan 寒潭, antithetical to yanghui, evokes a semantic sense of unfathomable mystery or contemplation. If yang denotes the generative energy, then the cold depth of a pool is yin, dark and unknowable like the human mind. Cf. the phrase tansi 覃思 or 潭思, Ban Gu 班固, Han shu 漢書 [History of the Former Han], annot. Yan Shigu 顔師古 (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1962), 87B.3575. Tan is a Chu dialect word for a “deep pool.” See Paul Kroll, A Student’s Dictionary of Classical and Medieval Chinese (Leiden: Brill, 2015), 442. The “deep pool” foreshadows the “sagacious mind” in line 5.

23

Shengxin 聖心 is a eulogistic reference to Liu Yu. The adoption of the word sheng may suggest “emperor” or “imperial.” Although Liu Yu was yet to ascend the throne, the “Nine Bestowals” [jiuci 九錫] ceremony had effectively made it a matter of formality. See Xiao Tong 萧统, ed., Liuchen zhu Wenxuan 六臣注文選 [Six Vassals’ Commentary of the Selections of Refined Literature], Sibu congkan 四部叢刊, 1904, 20.29a.

24

Yunqi 雲旗 are flags decorated with patterns of clouds. See Xiao Tong, Liuchen zhu Wenxuan, 20.29a.

25

Zhugong 朱宮 is the traveling palace at the Cavalry Terrace. See Xiao Tong, Liuchen zhu Wenxuan, 20.29a.

26

Lanzhi 蘭卮 is alcoholic drink scented with powdered thoroughwort [lan cao 蘭草]. See Ban Gu, Han shu, 22.1064. Shizhe 時哲 [savant of our day] refers to Kong Jing 孔靖 in whose honor the banquet was held.

27

This line alludes to Classic of Changes, Hexagram 64 “Weiji 未濟,” 6/5 (Fifth Yin) & 9/6 (Top Yang). For a translation, see Richard John Lynn, The Classic of Changes: A New Translation of the I Ching as Interpreted by Wang Bi (New York: Columbia University Press, 1994), 549–50.

28

This line alludes to Mao shi 161, “Lu Ming 鹿鳴 [Deer Cry],” which is a feast poem that celebrates the comity and loyalty between lords and vassals. The phrase hele 和樂 comes from the line that reads “In harmonious conviviality we indulge.” [ 和樂且湛。] The phrase appears also in the “Lesser Preface” to Mao shi 177, “Liu Yue 六月 [Sixth Month]”: “When ‘Lu ming’ was abandoned, harmonious conviviality was lost.” “Liu yue” is a poem about King Xuan of Zhou’s 周宣王 [r. 828–782 BCE] northern campaign against the Xianyun 獫狁 tribe. See Mao Heng, “Mao shi zhengyi,” 12–2.1a.

29

This line alludes to chapter 11 of the Zhuangzi, “Zai You 在宥 [Letting Be],” the opening lines of which read: “I have heard of letting the empire be, but I have not heard of governing the empire.” Guo Qingfan, Zhuangzi jishi, 11.364.

30

This line alludes to chapter 2 in the Zhuangzi, “Qiwu Lun 齊物論 [The Adjustment of Controversies],” which is the locus classicus of the concept of chuiwan 吹萬 [Breezing the Myriad] – the sage ruler spreads his beneficence like the gentle breezing, reaching all beings, nourishing yet without damaging them. See Guo Qingfan, Zhuangzi jishi, 1B.50. The third century commentator Sima Biao 司馬彪 [240–306] explains the concept in the following terms: “The climate is gentle and breezy; myriad beings are being nourished and supplicated; the phenomenal world exhibits an unusual sight. [The sage king] allows each living being to have natural way and then that is where he would stop.” See Xiao Tong, Wen xuan, 20.960. The two Zhuangzi references suggest a harmonious and non-interfering government.

31

The phrase guike 歸客, unattested in texts composed before Xie Lingyun’s time, is arguably a case of neologism. It was to become an iconic concept in the Chinese cultural memory. In the Wen xuan, there are two occurrences of the phrase. Sui “watercourse” in this line is used in a verbal sense. I have emended “mountain nook” to “corner, outlying place, border” following the Liuchen zhu Wenxuan 20.29b. This reading has been accepted in most of the Wen xuan editions except the Li Shan 李善 edition of the Wen xuan. See Gu Shaobo 顧紹柏, Xie Lingyun ji jiaozhu 謝靈運集校注 [Redacted and Annotated Collection of Xie Lingyun] (Zhengzhou: Zhongzhou guji chubanshe, 1987), 25.

32

Tuoguan 脫冠 refers to the resigning or retiring from one’s official post. This is another neologism, unattested in texts composed before Xie Lingyun’s time. There is only one occurrence of this phrase in the Wen xuan. See Zhang Xie 張協, “Unpinning my hair, loosening my robe / with hair untied, I shall return to the edge of the ocean,” [ 抽簪解朝衣,散髮歸海隅。] in Xiao Tong, Wen xuan, 21.994.

33

This line alludes to the Chu ci 楚辭 [Songs of the Chu], adopting its terminology and imagery. The phrase mizhao 弭棹 “curbing the oars” derives from mijie 弭節 “curbing the pace,” which first appears in Chu ci for five times, before becoming a stock phrase in the Han and post-Han prose and poetry. Here Xie Lingyun replaces “pace” with “oars,” which specifies the feature of a journey by river. Wangzhu 枉陼() “winding sandbars” also alludes to “She jiang 涉江 [Crossing the Yangzi River],” in Chu ci, 4.130. Cf. “Xiang Jun 湘君 [The Lord of Xiang],” which contains the line: “At dusk, we curb the pace and moor at the northern sandbar.” [ 夕弭節兮北渚。] See Hong Xingzu 洪興祖, annot., Chuci buzhu 楚辭補註 [Annotated Chuci with Supplementary Commentaries] (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1983), 2.63.

34

See Xiao Tong, Liuchen zhu Wenxuan, 20.29b.

35

Fucan 浮驂 in this line refers Liu Yu’s entourage. Line 17 describes Kong Jing’s boat journeying off speedily along the course of the river. Together these two lines present a scene of the retired gentleman parting ways with the rest of Liu Yu’s entourage. Fu is glossed as xing in Liuchen zhu Wenxuan 20.29b.

36

This line contains a post-positioned verb, which is an important feature in Xie Lingyun’s poetry. Such inversion of word order sometimes impresses upon the reader as contrived and could be a factor leading to the critical view on Xie Lingyun’s poetic style being fanfu 繁複 or “intricate and complex.” The sentence’s syntax may be described as follows: Qi adverb serving as rhetorical question marker, yi adverb as modifier, chuantu 川途 compound noun as pre-positioned object, nian verb as post-positioned predicate.

37

About this line, Li Shan explains: “Kong Jing retires to dedicate himself to ‘cultivating simplicity’ yangsu 養素 and yet I [Xie Lingyun] am ashamed for being still attached to the official position.” Suxin 宿心 refers to the intention to embrace simplicity and part with fame and gain. See Xiao Tong, Wen xuan, 20.960.

38

Qiuyuan dao 丘園道 alludes to the Classic of Changes, Hexagram 22 “Bi ,” 6/5, “This is Elegance as from a hillside garden, so bundles of silk increase to great number. If one is sparing, in the end, there will be good fortune.” See Lynn, The Classic of Changes, 276–77.

39

Bolie 薄劣 alludes to Pan Yue’s 潘岳 [247–300] “Xianju Fu 閒居賦 [Fu on Leisurely Living],” the coda of which contains the line: “Surely my use is paltry and my talent is meagre.” [ 信用薄而才劣。] See Xiao Tong, Wen xuan, 16.706.

40

Kong Jing, who was a native of Shanyin 山陰 of Guiji, had backed Liu Yu with military and financial support in putting down the coastal rebellions in 401 and eradicating the usurper Huan Xuan 桓玄 [365–404] in 404. For Kong Jing’s biography, see Shen Yue, Song shu, 54.1531–1532.

41

Shen Yue, Song shu, 54.1532.

42

Located in Pengcheng, this terrace was associated with Xiang Yu 項羽 [232–202 BCE], the famous Chu general who contended with and lost to the Han founder Liu Bang 劉邦 [256–195 BCE]. Kong Jing’s biography in the Song shu mentions his mystical prowess in subduing the malevolent spirit of Xiang Yu, which speaks to an extent the sacrificial function Kong Jing performed in Liu Yu’s military exploits. See Shen Yue, Song shu, 54.1532.

43

For a detailed discussion on the background of this politically-charged literary occasion and a list of attendee-writers at the banquet, see Satō Masamitsu, “Xie Zhan, Xie Lingyun de wenxue,” 349–53; see also Wu Fusheng, Written at Imperial Command, 75–77.

44

The Mencius contains various examples supporting this reading. For example, “Now you [Mencius] have rejected/abandoned this Solitary One and return/retire.” [ 今又棄寡人而歸。] Zhao Qi 赵岐, annot., Sun Shi 孙奭, coll., “Mengzi zhushu 孟子注疏 [Annotations and Commentaries of Mencius],” in Shisanjing zhushu 十三經注疏 [Annotations and Commentaries of the Thirteen Classics], ed. Ruan Yuan 阮元 (Taipei: Yiwen yinshuguan, 1965), 4B.82–2.

45

The first notable example is likely Mao shi 36. In the Wen xuan, gui as a literary motif is all too common.

46

辭事東歸,高祖餞之戲馬臺,百僚咸賦詩以述其美。Shen Yue, Song shu, 54.1532. Qi mei 其美 here refers to the moral values of Kong Jing’s “return.”

47

The “Lord’s Feast” follows a poetic convention of offering flattering remarks to the lord or the host of a banquet. There are four poems in the section that celebrate a banquet hosted by Cao Pi 曹丕 [187–226] upon his promotion to the Leader of Court Gentlemen for Miscellaneous Uses [wuguan zhonglangjiang 五官中郎將]. These Jian’an compositions are early models of poetry written at imperial command. See Xiao Tong, Wen xuan, 20.943–973.

48

See Ma Ruichen 馬瑞辰, Maoshi zhuanjian tongshi 毛詩傳箋通釋 [General Commentary of the Mao’s Book of Songs with Zheng Xuan’s Subcommentary], coll. Chen Jinsheng 陳金生 (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1989), 21.683. When the full bloom of summer is over, decline and deterioration begin. After that, what comes is chaos.

49

For a discussion of xing, an important literary trope from the Classic of Poetry tradition, see Pauline Yu, The Reading Imagery in the Chinese Poetic Tradition (Princeton: Princeton University, 1987), 44–47.

50

For a discussion of the thematic signification and structuring through imagistic analogy in the Classic of Poetry, see C. H. Wang, “The Theme,” in The Bell and the Drum: Shih Ching as Formulaic Poetry in an Oral Tradition (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1974), 98–125.

51

爰其適歸。For a grammatical and philological discussion of the line, see Ma Ruichen, Maoshi zhuanjian tongshi, 21.685.

52

Qu Wanli 屈萬里, Shijing quanshi 詩經詮釋 [Annotated Classic of Poetry] (Taipei: Lianjing, 1999), 271.

53

Qu Wanli, Shijing quanshi, 295.

54

For a discussion of “valley wind” as “wife’s complaint,” see Wang, The Bell and the Drum, 103–6.

55

See Mao Heng, Mao shi zhengyi, 13–1.1a. Although modern scholars have done away with this reading, the fifth-century audience would associate this with the last depraved king of the Western Zhou. See Wang, The Bell and the Drum, 104.

56

See Gu Shaobo, Xie Lingyun ji jiaozhu, 24.

57

For a biography of Xie Zhan, see Shen Yue, Song shu, 56.1557–59. See also David R. Knechtges and Taiping Chang, ed., Ancient and Early Medieval Chinese Literature: A Reference Guide (Leiden: Brill, 2012–14), 3:1636–39; Frodsham, The Murmuring Stream, 8. For a discussion of Xie Zhan and his poems, see Yue Zhang, Lore and Verse: Poems on History in Early Medieval China (Albany: State University of New York, 2022), 97–120.

58

For the text, see Xiao Tong, Wen xuan, 20.956–57.

59

This line alludes to Mao shi 154/1 (“Qi Yue 七月 [The Seventh Month]”): “In the seventh month, the fire star appears; in the ninth month, cold-season clothes are distributed.” [ 七月流火,九月授衣。]

60

Lü Yanji 呂延濟 [fl. 718] comments: “With the arrival of the first frost, adhesives and paints become hardened and they can’t be used to work on tools or vessels.” See Xiao Tong, Liuchen zhu Wenxuan, 20.25b.

61

This line alludes to the Zuo zhuan 左傳 [Zuo Commentaries], “Xianggong 襄公二十九年,” in which chaomu 巢幕 describes the precarious position an official finds himself in when serving an unstable or temporary regime. Here it refers the powers that had been vanquished by Liu Yu.

62

This line alludes to Mao shi 159/2, “Jiu Yu 九罭 [The Fishnets]”: “The wild geese fly along the sandbars.” [ 鴻飛遵渚。]

63

Xunshang 迅商, according to Li Shan, refers to the swift autumn wind arriving from the west. See Wen xuan 20.957.

64

Yangluan 揚鑾 literally means “raising high the chariot bells.” It is derived from yangbiao 揚鑣 “raising high the horse’s cheek-bar.” Cf. the phrase yangbiao feimo 揚鑣飛沫, Wen xuan, 17.508.

65

Siyan 四筵 [four sitting mats] is a metonymy for the guests sitting at the banquet.

66

Sitong 絲桐 is a synecdoche for the zither.

67

Fuguang 扶光 is the light of Fusang 扶桑, the legendary tree from which the sun rises. Si is Mengsi () [Murky Shore]. See Hong Xingzu, Chuci buzhu, 3.88: “It emerges from Scorching Vale and halts at Murky Shore.” [ 出自湯谷,次于蒙汜。]

68

Yangsu 養素 derives from the Laozi line “exemplify simplicity, embrace the uncarved block.” [ 見素抱樸。] See Richard John Lynn, The Classic of the Way and Virtue (New York: Columbia University Press, 1999), 82. Zhong means “to end” or “to die.” Here it implies a “good end” [shanzhong 善終] and a “death that fulfills the heavenly ordained terms” [zhong tiannian 終天年]. The English word “culminate” – with senses of “exalted,” “summit,” and “reaching a point of highest development” – is an appropriate equivalent for zhong. This alludes to Classic of Changes, Hexagram 15 “Qian [Modesty],” 9/3, “Diligent about his Modesty, the noble man has the capacity to maintain his position to the end, and this means good fortune.” [ 勞謙,君子有終,吉。] Lynn, Classic of Changes, 231.

69

Linliu 臨流 alludes to Chu ci, “Chou Si 抽思 [Expressing Emotions and Thoughts],” 4.139, “Facing the stream, I heaved a long sigh.” [ 臨流水而太息。] In early medieval poetry, linliu is a literary trope on homesickness, yearning or longing for friends and relatives, and nostalgia for ancient times of benevolent rule. Cf. Tao Yuanming’s 陶淵明 line “Facing the stream, I bid farewell with friends.” [ 臨流別友生。] Xiao Tong, Wen xuan, 26.1235.

70

Li Zhouhan 李周翰 [fl. 718] reads the line as Xie Zhan expressing regret for not being able to travel with Kong Jing and that they will be separated and follow their respective unpredictable journeys ahead like the tumbleweed. Within a few years, Xie Zhan, Kong Jing, and Liu Yu would all pass.

71

See Mao Heng, Mao shi zhengyi, 8–1.7a: “The poem lays out the Zhou kings’ enterprise. Duke of Zhou encountered calamity. The poem lays out the path by which former kings of Zhou, beginning with Lord Millet, had conducted their transformative rule to demonstrate the hardship of the Zhou kings’ enterprise.” [ 陳王業也。周公遭變,故陳后稷先公風化之所由致,王業艱難也。]

72

Li Shan, quoting the Song shu, reports that Xie Zhan’s composition was ranked the better of the two poems composed among the invited guests. See Xiao Tong, Wen xuan, 20.956.

73

See Wendy Swartz, Reading Philosophy, Writing Poetry: Intertextual Modes of Making Meaning in Early Medieval China (Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2018), 222–58.

74

貞吉,无悔,君子之光,有孚,吉。Translations of the Classic of Changes passages quoted are mine, unless otherwise noted. See Li Dingzuo 李鼎祚, annot., Zhou yi jijie 周易集解 [Collected Annotations of the Changes] (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 2016), 12.387; see also Lynn, The Classic of Changes, 549.

75

有孚于飲酒,无咎,濡其首,有孚,失是。See Li Dingzuo, Zhou yi jijie, 12.388; see also Lynn, The Classic of Changes, 549–50.

76

See Zhang Yinan’s study of the pattern and style of Xie Lingyun’s use of hexagrams in poetry, Zhang Yinan 張一男, “Xie Lingyun shiwen huayong Yi dian fangshi yanjiu 謝靈運詩文化用《易》典方式研究 [On the Methodology of Xie Lingyun’s Use of the Changes],” Yunnan daxue xuebao 雲南大學學報, no. 2 (2011): 99.

77

飲酒濡首,亦不知節也。See Li Dingzuo, Zhou yi jijie, 12.388; see also Lynn, The Classic of Changes, 550.

78

See Li Dingzuo, Zhou yi jijie, 12.384; see also Lynn, The Classic of Changes, 545.

79

The upper trigram is li , signifying fire; the lower trigram is kan , signifying water. See Li Dingzuo, Zhou yi jijie, 12.385; Lynn, The Classic of Changes, 550.

80

Wu Fusheng, Written at Imperial Command, 76.

81

For a systematic analysis of Xie Lingyun’s use of the hexagram, see Zhang Yinan, “Xie Lingyun shiwen huayong yi dian fangshi yanjiu,” 94–101.

82

Zhang Yinan, “Xie Lingyun shiwen,” 99.

83

“Generally speaking, it was through an ability to adapt to changes in the court’s power structure that Xie males of the Southern Dynasties reached the upper ranks. Those whose careers were both accomplished and long-lasting possessed, among other practical talents, a political acumen that helped them surface on the victor’s side after contests for leadership, and the well-spoken wit to extricate themselves from compromising situations.” Chennault, “Lofty Gates or Solitary Impoverishment,” 261.

84

賁于丘園,束帛戔戔,吝,終吉。See Li Dingzuo, Zhou yi jijie, 5.153; Lynn, The Classic of Changes, 276.

85

See Li Dingzuo, Zhou yi jijie, 153.

86

Shen Yue, Song shu, 67.1753.

87

Xiao Tong, Wen xuan, 20.980–81. Block Hill was located 50 li (16 miles) east of the capital. One of the four major fords in the vicinity of Jiankang, the Block Hill was named after its shape resembling a square seal. Protruding out of the river, it was also known as the Mount Tianyin 天印山.

88

Ou and Yue are ancient names for modern southern Zhejiang and parts of Fujian.

89

Zhu Qianzhi 朱謙之, ed., Laozi jiao shi 老子校釋 [Redacted and Annotated Laozi] (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1984), 75.

90

Rixin 日新 alludes to Classic of Changes, hexagram 26 “Daxu 大畜 [Great Domestication].” The Commentary on the Judgment of “Daxu” reads: “In Daxu, we find the hard and strong and the sincere and substantial gloriously renewing their virtue with each new day.” See Wang Bi 王弼, annot., Kong Yingda 孔穎達, coll., “Zhouyi zhengyi 周易正義 [The Correct Meaning of the Books of Changes with Subcommentary],” in Shisanjing zhushu 十三經注疏 [Annotations and Commentaries of the Thirteen Classics], ed. Ruan Yuan 阮元 (Beijing: Beijing daxue chubanshe, 2000), 139–40.

91

Yinchen 音塵 alludes to a line from Lu Ji 陸機, “Sigui Fu 思歸賦 [Yearning to Return]”: “Obliterated are my voice and traces by the banks of Yangzi.” [ 絕音塵於江介。] See Xiao Tong, Wen xuan, 13.602, 20.981.

92

See Xiao Tong, Wen xuan, 20.981.

93

Frodsham, The Murmuring Stream, 32.

94

See Xiao Tong, Wen xuan, 26.1236–38. The date in the title translates to August 19, 422.

95

“Metal phase” refers to autumn.

96

The fire star is Antares, which is considered the harbinger of autumn.

97

This line alludes to a lament by Lu Ji upon leaving his hometown to take up an office in the northern capital Luoyang: “such bitterness and hardship, no one understands.” See Xiao Tong, Wen xuan, 24.1147, 26.1229.

98

This alludes to a story in the Zhuangzi about an exile from the Yue state who grows ever more homesick. See Guo Qingfan, Zhuangzi jishi, 8B.821.

99

See Li Shan’s commentary in Xiao Tong, Wen xuan, 26.1236.

100

Li Mu 李牧 [d. 229 BCE], a famous general from the state of Zhao, had short arms, but that did not prevent him from achieving military successes against both the Xiongnu and the state of Qin. See Liu Xiang 劉向, Zhanguo ce 戰國策 [Intrigues of the Warring States] (Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1978), 1:289.

101

Xi Ke 卻克 [d. 587 BCE], a grandee of the state of Jin, walked lamely and was jeered by members of the Qi household. See Xiao Tong, Wen xuan, 26.1237.

102

Zhili 支離 is the name of a recluse with deformed body who was nevertheless able to live out his heavenly ordained years. Guo Qingfan, Zhuangzi jishi, 2B.180.

103

This alludes to Lin Xiangru 藺相如 [fl. 279 BCE], the resourceful and courageous minister of Zhao who secured the return of the priceless jade disk known as Mr. He’s Jade [Heshi bi 和氏璧]. See Sima Qian 司馬遷, Shi ji 史記 [Classic of History] (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1964), 81.2439–41.

104

One puzzling point is the poet’s use of the phrase Zhili, which is the name of a recluse with deformed body in the Zhuangzi. Is Xie Lingyun speaking of his own deformity in a literal or metaphorical sense? This question, unfortunately, cannot be answered. No commentaries offer any suggestions on this.

105

For the text, see Gu Shaobo, Xie Lingyun ji jiaozhu, 41–44; Xiao Tong, Wen xuan, 26.1238–39. For translations, see Frodsham, The Murmuring Stream, I.118; Stephen Owen, “The Librarian in Exile: Xie Lingyun’s Bookish Landscapes,” Early Medieval China 10–11, no. 1 (2004): 214–15.

106

This line alludes to Zuo Si’s 左思 “Zhao Yin 招隱 [Summoning the Recluse]”: “White snow lingers on a dark ridge,” [ 白雲停陰岡。] in Wen xuan 22.1027. Unlike Zuo Si, Xie Lingyun personifies nature by using a transitive verb.

107

About Xie Lingyun’s use of the word mei , Rur-Bin Yang who posits that mei was aesthetically preferred among the cultured elite in the fifth century Jiangnan that Xie Lingyun was a leading member. Yang reads mei as representing “facial features; the radiance of face and eye(brows) that are lovely and fresh.” Yang concludes that mei signifies “radiant outward beauty” that “manifests the Way.” Rur-Bin Yang 楊儒賓, “Shanshuishi yeshi gongfu lun 山水詩也是工夫論 [On Landscape Writing as Self-Cultivation],” Zheng da zhongwen xuebao 政大中文學報 22 (2014): 17–20.

108

See Wang Chong 王充, “Lun Si 論死 [Statement on Death],” in Lunheng jiaoshi 論衡校釋 [Redacted and Annotated Lun heng], annot. Huang Hui 黃暉 (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1990), 871–73.

109

Gu Shaobo, Xie Lingyun ji jiaozhu, 44.

110

For a discussion of Xie Lingyun’s death, see Timothy Chan, “Xie Lingyun on Awakening,” in Considering the End: Mortality in Early Medieval Chinese Poetic Representation (Leiden: Brill, 2012), 127–58.

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