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Rhymeprose on an Owl

Chia Yi
Chia Yi

Disaster is to fortune as strands of a single rope.

Fate is past understanding — who comprehends its bounds?

Force water and it spurts, force an arrow and it goes far:

All things are propelled in circles, undulating and revolving:

Clouds rise and rain falls, tangled in contingent alternation.

On the Great Potter’s wheel creatures are shaped in all their infinite variety.

Heaven cannot be predicted, the Way cannot be foretold,

Late or early, it is predetermined: who knows when his time will be?

Consider then:

Heaven and Earth are a crucible, the Creator is the smith,

Yin and yang are the charcoal, living creatures are the bronze:

Combining, scattering, waning, waxing – where is any pattern?

A thousand changes, myriad transformations with never any end.

— from “Rhymeprose on an Owl,” by Chia Yi

Chia Yi (201–169 BC) was a Chinese poet who wrote during the Han Dynasty (206 BC–220 AD) and served as a close confidant of the emperor until his advocacy of Confucian philosophy led to his being forced out of the palace by other court officials. Because his situation was similar to that of Ch’u Yuan (329–299 BC), Chia Yi is often compared to the poet of the previous century, although his exile ended when he was called back to tutor the emperor’s son. He is best known for his “fu” (“rhymeprose”), a form that mixes poetry and prose characterized by great length and elaboration.

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Chia Yi
Chia Yi

Disaster is to fortune as strands of a single rope.

Fate is past understanding — who comprehends its bounds?

Force water and it spurts, force an arrow and it goes far:

All things are propelled in circles, undulating and revolving:

Clouds rise and rain falls, tangled in contingent alternation.

On the Great Potter’s wheel creatures are shaped in all their infinite variety.

Heaven cannot be predicted, the Way cannot be foretold,

Late or early, it is predetermined: who knows when his time will be?

Consider then:

Heaven and Earth are a crucible, the Creator is the smith,

Yin and yang are the charcoal, living creatures are the bronze:

Combining, scattering, waning, waxing – where is any pattern?

A thousand changes, myriad transformations with never any end.

— from “Rhymeprose on an Owl,” by Chia Yi

Chia Yi (201–169 BC) was a Chinese poet who wrote during the Han Dynasty (206 BC–220 AD) and served as a close confidant of the emperor until his advocacy of Confucian philosophy led to his being forced out of the palace by other court officials. Because his situation was similar to that of Ch’u Yuan (329–299 BC), Chia Yi is often compared to the poet of the previous century, although his exile ended when he was called back to tutor the emperor’s son. He is best known for his “fu” (“rhymeprose”), a form that mixes poetry and prose characterized by great length and elaboration.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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