Bashō's Road

to the small poem and the quiet voice within

yang wan-li | sunflower splendor


Master Liu Painted a Portrait of Me in My Old Age and Asked Me to Write a Poem about the Picture
Yang Wan-li


Few hairs, made fewer by the comb;
short moustache, made shorter by the tweezers—
scratching my hair, and twisting my moustache,
when will I ever stop looking for poems?

sunflowerEditor’s note: Yang Wan-li (T’ing-hsiu: CH’ENG-CHAI YEH-K’E,or “Rustic Man from the Studio of Sincerity” ) was one of the so-called Four Masters of Southern Sung Poetry. His main concern was literature. “In my life I have loved nothing else—I have only loved literature, as other men love beautiful women and I have especially loved poetry,” He wrote over four thousand poems in his lifetime—not including over a thousand early poems which he burned in 1162… [ from: SUNFLOWER SPLENDOR, Three Thousand Years of Chinese Poetry]


  1. I have an old copy of Sunflower Splendor. One of my English profs was a translation contributor. This book is worth its weight in splendor. I appreciate seeing these timeless poems.

  2. Setting ones work a flame is a fearless step forward, an admirable editing skill…a sublime detachment.

  3. I’m stunned and maybe uncomprehending. Do you mean to
    tell me some Chinese master painted the arresting picture
    of the poet in such a total western way, way back in the
    1100’sB.C. It doesn’t seem possible.

  4. Another gem, Norb, thanks. Don

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