The Love of Lotus
By Dunyi, Zhou (North Song Dynasty, 1017 – 1073)
Lovely plants are many, in the water, or on the land,
Yuanming Tao (a famous poet) in the Jing Period loved only chrysanthemum,
Since the Tang Dynasty, people like peony very much.
For me, lotus is the only one for me,
She grows up in the mud, but with no dirt on it,
She is cleansed with water but shows no coquettishness,
She is slender, straight with no branching,
Her scents could be smelt from far away,
She could be watched with distance but not played in hand.
I will say, chrysanthemum is the hermit,
Peony, the nobleman,
Lotus, man with highest integrity,
Love of chrysanthemum is rare after Tao,
Love of lotus, who share with me?
The love of peony, too many, no doubt!
This famous poem teaches a really typical story depicting how ancient Chinese people express themselves which is in a very indirect way. The poet mentioned three flowers: chrysanthemum, peony and lotus symbolizing three major people, hermit, nobleman and man with integrity. The author insisted to act like a man with integrity. He was a poet but still actively participating in the government works as local government officials, thus he described the lotus/himself as “grows up in the mud, but with no dirt on it”. He actually didn’t like chrysanthemum/hermit as in his opinion this kind of person contributes nothing to the country and the society.
In the traditional culture, Chinese people with literacy tend to express themselves with statement of outside objects. In another word, their sentiments are sensitive and difficult to be understood which has been inherited to some extent today in term of quite different way of communication among the Chinese communities.
Original poem in Chinese is given as follows: