Farewell with Monks of Temple Donglin
Author: Bai Li(AD701-AD762, Tang Dynasty)
Translator: Lei Fan 2016 in Chicago
At the concierge of Temple Donglin,
The moon comes out, the white apes cry loud.
Mount Lu appears farther away in our laughter,
And who cares if we have already crossed the Tiger Stream?
[Note]: Donglin Temple is located in Mount Lu. a stream passes by is called Tiger Stream. In Jin Dynasty, the Abbot of the Temple, HuiYuan, in order to better study Buddhism, he swore not to step out of the mountain, and even seeing off any guest, he would never across the Tiger Stream, otherwise, there would be tiger roaring angrily – ‘My shadow will never fly out of the mountain, and my footstep will never enter secular world.’ he wrote. But when two of his best friends visited him, he saw them off but found hard to tear away from each other – thus a quite long walk and extended farewell that they eventually crossed Tiger Stream, they did hear tiger roaring, they laughed and finally waved goodbye. ‘The Three Laughter at Tiger Stream’ then becomes an allusion describing the friendship, and the sentiment of farewell. In Bai Li’s poem, he borrowed this allusion, just to express as long as he could stay longer with best friends, they have probably already crossed the Tiger Stream and forgot the admonition like HuiYuan, but who cares?
Image Courtesy: 虎溪三笑圖 石恪