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Poem on the Hall of Pines and Wind by Huang Tingjian

    Huang Tingjian (1045 – 1105 AD) was one of China’s Song dynasty’s four great calligraphers.

    His Poem on the Hall of Pines and Wind is considered one of Chinese history’s finest pieces of calligraphy.

    Its excellent brushwork is matched in beauty by its moving words (translated below).

    Background to Poem on the Hall of Pines and Wind

    Poem on the Hall of Pines and Wind by Huang Tingjian
    Poem on the Hall of Pines and Wind by Huang Tingjian, ink on hemp paper, running script. 32.8 x 219.2 cm. National Palace Museum, Taipei. (Image source: Wikipedia Commons)

    Poem on the Hall of Pines and Wind (《松风阁诗帖》 [Sōngfēng gé shī tié ]) was likely written between 1102 AD and 1105 AD (the year of Huang’s death).

    It commemorates time spent with his friends in Wuchang, in 1102 AD, which today is a district of Wuhan, Hubei Province. And it reflects on the recent death of Huang’s good friend, Su Dongpo.

    It seems that Huang and his friends stayed overnight in the hall in the pine forest. In the Song dynasty, there was a popular and long-standing culture of literati drinking and writing poems together.

    Details of Poem on the Hall of Pines and Wind

    The Poem was written on paper with ink and is 32.8 cm high by 219.2 cm long (12.9 inches by 86.2 inches).

    It is written in a bold, thick regular calligraphy style script. Whilst its lines vary slightly in length and distance between one another, it still maintains a balanced symmetry and sense of proportion.

    TEXT (CHINESE TRADITIONAL) SIDE BY SIDE WITH PIECE

    Poem on the Hall of Pines and Wind picture side by side with printed original Chinese characters
    Poem on the Hall of Pines and Wind alongside printed original Chinese characters

    TEXT (CHINESE SIMPLIFIED) AND ENGLISH TRANSLATION

    依山筑阁见平川,夜阑箕斗插屋椽。 我来名之意适然。

    老松魁梧数百年,斧斤所赦今参天。 风鸣娲皇五十弦,

    洗耳不须菩萨泉。 嘉三二子甚好贤,力贫买酒醉此筵。

    夜雨鸣廊到晓悬,相看不归卧僧毡。 泉枯石燥复潺湲,

    山川光辉为我妍。 野僧旱饥不能饘,晓见寒溪有炊烟。

    东坡道人已沉泉,张侯何时到眼前。 钓台惊涛可昼眠,

    怡亭看篆蛟龙缠。 安得此身脱拘挛,舟载诸友长周旋。 

    The hall is next to a mountain overlooking the level waters; late at night moonlight and starlight pours through the eaves. I gave this hall its fitting name.

    Giant ancient pines, centuries old, have escaped the woodsman’s ax and reached the heavens. Notes from Queen Wa’s fifty strings are carried on the wind;

    you don’t need the Bodhisattva Spring to wash your ears [from being polluted with mundane things]. Two or three outstanding masters, exhausted, bought wine and drunk on this mat.

    The twinkle of night rain against these covered walkways continues until dawn. An unreturned glance at the monk reclining on the carpet. Water once again flows over the rocks in the extinct spring;

    we take in the magnificence of these rivers and mountains. Monks driven into this wilderness by famine and drought can’t eat porridge; at dawn a cold mist covers the stream. 

    Su Dongpo, who followed the Way, has already submerged into springs, when will Marquis Zhang appear before my eyes? Whilst stormy waves wash over the fishing posts, we can sleep in the day

    and watch dragons from the pavilion. When will I shed the constraints of this body, this life and float away freely with all of my friends on long and winding journeys?

    WHERE IS THE ORIGINAL VERSION OF Poem on Hall of Pines and Wind TODAY?

    Today, the Poem on Hall of Pines and Wind is housed in Taiwan’s National Palace Museum.

    The National Palace Museum used to be based in the ground of the Forbidden City in Beijing. However, during the Chinese Civil War (1945 – 49), many of its precious artworks and artefacts were brought over to Taiwan.