Friday, February 01, 2008

A Crimson River Flowing Full

It's not often that I have to depend on wify's works to blog, not to say that I don't enjoy doing that, since she already has her own virtual space. But her work here, specifically her Chinese calligraphy, bears special significance to me and my late father-in-law.

Let me start from the beginning, if I may. Wify visited her friend, Linda, at her home not too long ago. There she learned that Linda's father is an accomplished Chinese artist and calligrapher. One of Linda's collections is a calligraphy book on the famous poem by Ye Fei, a general who lived during the Sung Dynasty and is well-known for his unstinting loyalty to the then Emperor, loosely translated as The Crimson River Flowing Full, in six traditional Chinese fonts, or calligraphy styles to be precise.

Linda was kind enough to lend her the calligraphy book, and wify wrote up the entire poem by mimicking the brush strokes of a particular style, the Li Shu (Clerical Style) with its distinctive bird tail ending for horizontal strokes.

Now before I present you with her calligraphy, perhaps I should touch a bit on my and my late father-in-law's connection with this historical Chinese icon and his poem.

As a student in a Chinese primary school back home, I had studied the courageous feats of Ye Fei in the history book. I remember that when young, Ye Fei's mother had the four Chinese characters that forms an idiom, meaning displaying unwavering patriotism to sacrifice for the country, inscribed on his back. And my parents had the good sense to use one of the four characters, patriotism/loyalty, in my given name. And that is my modest claim to the patriotic hero, Ye Fei, no matter how tenuous it may seem.

My late father-in-law's connection is more personl. He loved the poem very much. And that was the song that accompanied his funeral procession on the last leg of his journey on this earth.

In a nutshell, the poem articulates Ye Fei's patriotism in safeguarding the land of the country from external threats, vowing to defeat them in the most decisive way, and his admonishment to others not to waste their prime years and regret in futility in their old age.

Here then is The Crimson River Flowing Full, in Lishu, by wify (the verses are to be read from top to bottom from right to left in descending order of the 4-character-high panels):

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