Mountain Life at Sunset in Autumn
Wang, Wei 1 (700-761 CE)
On the quiet mountain after a fresh rain
The evening chill reveals that autumn is arriving.
The bright moon shines among the pine trees;
The clear spring flows over the stones.
The clamor of voices from the bamboo grove announces the return of the
The lotuses part as the fishing boats pass downstream.
Although the fragrance of Spring is past,
Mountains are a natural place for noble children to reside 2.
Mo-jie was Wei Wang's alternative name. He was a native of Qi City (present
day Qi-xian City in Shanxi Province). In 721 CE, he passed the Advanced Exam.
Later, he took the first place on the Palace Exam. Over the years he was
promoted to the position of supervising censor. When the rebel troops led by Lu-shan
An captured the capital, Chang-an, Wang was given an official post. After the
rebellion was crushed, Wang was demoted to Guardian of the Crown Prince due to
his collaboration with the rebellion. His wife died when he was young, but he
never remarried. In his late years, he resided in Wang-chuan City of Lan-tian
County. He lived in leisure, sometimes as a recluse, occasionally as a
statesman. Chinese poets put him and Hao-ran Meng side by side and call them
"Wang and Meng" because their poems are outstanding representative works of
pastoral poetry. During Wang's early years, he wrote poems about women and
border fortresses. However, his main achievements were his poems about
landscapes, especially mountains and rivers. His poems are peaceful, colorful,
artistic, and real-to-life. They contain many interesting remarks about Zen
philosophy. Through his poetic works, he advocated Buddhism and a life of
seclusion. Therefore, people called him the Buddha of Poetry. Wei Wang forged
poetry, painting and music in one stove with one flame. Dong-po Su praised
Wang's work by saying, "His poems are like paintings and his paintings are like
This line is Wang's response to a statement in the chapter about recruiting
hermits in The History of the State of Chu. The statement says, "Come
back! Noble children! Mountains are not a good place for one to reside long."
During Wang's time the government was corrupt. Even though he was promoted to
Deputy Prime Minister, he was disappointed with the corruption. Therefore, Wang
thought that when the government is not corrupt, hermits should leave the
mountains and serve their community, but when the government is corrupt, it is
appropriate for the hermits to remain in the mountains.