Each was a composite of the rest, dark angels, glistening faces, snow angels, angels in the sun, twilight angels, and in some instances—gone hundreds of years before—its brightness, or degree of illumination; the lint or shade of the cerulean hue of the sky determined by the ranges of primary and transition mountains that traverse them. These masses usually stand out in relief, are exceedingly diversified in form. … The character of the scene would accord far better with Milton’s picture of the infernal world.
And if we imagine the earth to be stationary, and the heavens to revolve about it, such revolution must be swifter than any motion of which we have any measure—any mode of comparison within the reach of our conception of heaven. … And then he did see a world, strangely a place of deep winter, with himself in it. In moonlight, a small field half-grown-up in gray birch and poplar, surrounded by dark woods. The moon was cold and white and round. … Their house, generally known as the hovel, lay at the edge of the point. ... Two pine trees, weighed down with snow, framed it on either side ... unfashionable, unable to expand further, and limited, if they wished to continue to build good housing for the poor.
Out by the wattle gate, someone must be heading home in the blowing snow. … What a surprise to hear my homeland accent in this desolate winter storm. Just then they heard a dog bark far down in the deep valley. … They saw the torches passing quickly toward the same place.
Nothing moves, then more nothing, just wind, snow, and finally, the stillness of the night when the shops are just closing, and the aspect of almost every wayfarer, as he passes through the unequal light reflected from the windows, speaks of one hurrying not abroad, but homeward. Though the eyes behold the stars, the feet must follow … having yourself passed through the stages of such experiencing … and you may be in a position to help a person to be together with us in this season.
'Feng xue su Furong shan' by Liu Changqing (709-785), microcollage-translated by John for 2014/15.
Calligraphy by Gu Gan from the book Tangshi Shufa.