Preface to the Poems Composed at the Orchid Pavilion
On this late spring day, the ninth year of Yonghe (AD 353), we gathered
at the Orchid Pavilion in Shaoxing to observe the Spring Purification
Festival. All of the prominent people were there, from old to young.
High mountains and luxuriant bamboo groves lie in the back; a limpid,
swift stream gurgles around, which reflected the sunlight as it flowed
past either side of the pavilion. We sat by the water, sharing wine
from a floating goblet while chanting poems, which gave us delight in
spite of the absence of musical accompaniment. This is a sunny day with
a gentle valley breeze. Spreading before the eye is the beauty of
nature, and hanging high is the immeasurable universe. This is perfect
for an aspired mind. What a joy.
Though born with different personalities - some give vent to their
sentiment in a quiet chat while others repose their aspiration in
Bohemianism - people find pleasure in what they pursue and never feel
tired of it. Sometimes they pause to recall the days lapsed away.
Realizing that what fascinated yesterday is a mere memory today, not to
mention that everyone will return to nothingness, an unsuppressible
sorrow would well up. Isn't it sad to think of it?
I am often moved by ancients' sentimental lines which lamented the
swiftness and uncertainty of life. When future generations look back to
my time, it will probably be similar to how I now think of the past.
What a shame! Therefore, when I list out the people that were here, and
record their musings, even though times and circumstances will change,
as for the things that we regret, they are the same. For the people who
read this in future generations, perhaps you will likewise be moved by
A painting of the gathering by the Ming Dynasty artist Wen Zhengming (文徵明)
A fan painting of the gathering by the Ming Dynasty artist Zeng Jing (曾鲸)