Lots of bits of Chinese prose would make great blog entries. (A blog is basically a biji, more or less) Plus, they make great things to teach from. So, if any of you are teaching about the Song dynasty elite and their attitudes towards the mundane world you might find this from our guest-blogger Ouyang Xiu 歐陽修 to be helpful or informative. (tips on working with it here)
A Record of the Pavilion of an Intoxicated Old Man
All around Ch’u there are mountains, but the forests and valleys of that assemblage of peaks to the southwest are the finest. There is one that appears from afar most luxuriant and deepest in verdure—that is Lang-ya. After you have walked six or seven tricents into the mountains, there you will gradually notice the sound of water gurgling. Where it drains out between the two peaks, this is Brewer’s Spring. Rounding the peak the road winds; there a pavilion hangs, like a wing, out over the spring. This is the Intoxicated Old Man’s pavilion. Who was it that built this pavilion? A monk of these mountains, Chih-hsien. And who named it? The prefect, who called it after himself. When prefect and guests come to drink here, because he becomes intoxicated after only drinking a little and because he is the oldest in years, that is why he nicknamed himself the Intoxicated Old Man. But what he means by Intoxicated Old Man has nothing to do with the wine; it has to do instead with being in the mountains by the water. This joy from the mountains and the water he feels within his mind; he merely ascribes it to the wine.
Now the sun rises and the forest mists dissipate, the clouds return and the caves in ravines grow gloomy—these alternations of dusk and light mark mornings and evenings amid the mountains. Wild flowers bloom with their hidden scents, beautiful trees leaf out with deepening shade, then winds rise and pure frost appears, the water level drops and the rocks protrude—such are the four seasons amid the mountains. In the morning he goes there, in the evening he returns; the scenery of the four seasons is never the same, hence his joy knows no bounds.
Those who carry loads on their backs sing along the path; sojourners rest beneath the trees. The ones in front call out and those behind respond. Some are bent over with age and others so young that they must be led by the hand. They come and go without cease—such are the travelers around Ch’u. One may lean over this stream and fish; the stream being deep, the fish are fat. Or one may brew wine with the spring water; the spring being fragrant, the wine is crystal clear. Sliced meats from the mountains and wild vegetables arrayed in profusion before the guests—such are the prefect’s banquets. The joys of the feast are not from strings or winds; they are from winning at pitch-pot, from victory in chess. Passing goblets and mugs back and forth, shouting with abandon, now sitting,, now on their feet—such is the happy abandon of the guests. And the one who, ruddy-faced and white of hair, lies sprawled in their midst—that is the prefect intoxicated.
When the merriment is over and the evening sun sets among the mountains, the prefect goes home with his guests in tow, their shadows jumbled together. The forest gloom deepens; birds call high and low. The revelers all gone, the birds are joyful. Yet, though birds may know the joy of mountain forests, they know not the joy of mankind; men may know the joy of revels with the prefect and yet never know the prefect’s enjoyment of their joy.
Intoxicated yet able to share their joy, able when sober to describe it in writing—such is the prefect. And what is this prefect’s name? Ou-yang Hsiu of Lu-ling. Translated by Robert E. Hegel
环滁皆山也。其西南诸峰，林壑尤美。望之蔚然而深秀者，琅琊也。山行六七里， 渐闻水声潺潺，而泄出于两峰之间者，酿泉也。峰回路转，有亭翼然临于泉上者， 醉翁亭也。作亭者谁？山之僧智仙也。名之者谁？太守自谓也。太守与客来饮于 此，饮少辄醉，而年又最高，故自号曰“醉翁”也。醉翁之意不在酒，在乎山水之间 也。山水之乐，得之心而寓之酒也。若夫日出而林霏开，云归而岩穴暝，晦明变化 者，山间之朝暮也。野芳发而幽香，佳木秀而繁阴，风霜高洁，水落而石出者，山 间之四时也。朝而往，暮而归，四时之景不同，而乐亦无穷也。至于负者歌于塗， 行者休于树，前者呼，后者应，伛偻提携，往来而不绝者，滁人游也。临溪而渔， 溪深而鱼肥；酿泉为酒，泉香而酒冽；山肴野蔌，杂然而前陈者，太守宴也。宴酣 之乐，非丝非竹，射者中，弈者胜，觥筹交错，坐起而喧哗者，众宾欢也。苍然白 发，颓乎其中者，太守醉也。已而夕阳在山，人影散乱，太守归而宾客从也。树林 阴翳，鸣声上下，游人去而禽鸟乐也。然而禽鸟知山林之乐，而不知人之乐；人知 从太守游而乐，而不知太守之乐其乐也。醉能同其乐，醒能述其文者，太守也。太 守谓谁？庐陵欧阳修也
For more discussion see
- The Old Drunkard Who Finds Joy in His Own Joy -Elitist Ideas in Ouyang Xiu’s Informal Writings
- Xianda Lian
- Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, Reviews (CLEAR), Vol. 23, (Dec., 2001), pp. 1-29