Story by Portia Choi
Photograph by Ezekiel Espanola
The Open Mic on December 1 featured “Purple-mountain Wood-gatherer” and “ Beautiful Rock.” There was beautiful classical Chinese music and poetry; and of course an original poem. “Purple Mountain Wood-gatherer” wrote an original poem, “Silence.”
For this story three persons were interviewed “Purple-mountain Wood-gatherer” and “ Beautiful Rock” and Liz Greynolds.
Interview with “Purple-mountain Wood-gatherer:”
How did you obtain the name “Purple-mountain Wood-gatherer:”
“This was the pen-name given to me by my mother, who by her own right
was a poet and artist. ‘Purple Mountain’ is a mountain situated on
the north bank of the ‘Yangzi River (长江)’, across from Nanking (南京),
once the capital of the Chinese Nationalist Government. During the
afternoon and as the setting sun’s rays shining upon the river surface
and reflected on the mountain, the mountain is coated with a purple
hue; thus the name ‘Purple Mountain’. ‘Wood-gatherer’ implies a
humble person who lives a simple life, close to Nature.”
What are some of the Chinese poetry styles?
“There are many poetry styles, almost as many as there are Dynasties in
China, as the poets re-invent them due to their creative urges and
inspiration. For example, there is the
Tang Si (唐詩) , Song Ci (宋詞), and Yuan Fu (元賦), etc., which are
distinctive styles of poetry. Furthermore, there are even those
written for certain musical composition, and only for certain musical
Also featured at the Open Mic was “Beautiful Rock” who accompanied “Purple Mountain Wood-gatherer.” She played the classic Chinese instruments, Guqin and the Pipa. The accompaniment was improvisational, created during the evening’s performance.
The guqin is a seven-stringed zither without bridges, a Chinese instrument with over 3000 years of history. It has the best documented history and preserved repertoire among all the intruments from China. The guqin has been frequently referred to as the preferred instrument of the sages and literati. For instance, Confucius (551 – 479 BC) was a great master of this instrument. Another notable master was Ji Kong (223–262) who was one of the “Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove”.
UNESCO has declared the guqin as an “oral and intangible cultural heritage of humanity”, representing one of three traditions from China that are inseparable from history, literature and art. (UNESCO is United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.)
The second musical instrument presented during the Open Mic was the pipa (pronounced “pee-paa”), a four-stringed lute with over 2000 years of history that originally came from ancient Persia.
When “Purple-mountain Wood-gatherer” was asked about what influenced him to write his original poems “Silence,” he said, “I would like to share with the young poets about what I have learned
in life, from a holy man in India. The vision of Vedanta, as
expounded in the Upanishads, is ‘Oneness’, in that the whole Universe
arises from it, sustained by, and emerges into it, It is said by the
ancient seers that ‘Silence’ is our true nature; ‘when the mind is
quietened, only silence remains.’ ”
By Purple-mountain Wood-gatherer
Time & Space
Measure time not
by Yesterday or Tomorrow;
The past is but an epoch
that never returns
while the future
is that not-yet-arrived.
only the Present
is the very moment
that contains all time,
in which are all that
can be done, hoped for, and realized.
Measure Space not
by Here or There;
felling not where I walked
is far from the destination,
for wherever I am
embraces all spaces;
covers all distances.
Life & Nature
Past, Present and Future
— a flow of time
in the stream of life.
But, what is life?
A collection of
Sorrowful or joyous
Memories of the past?
Or, is it
anxieties and expectations
of yet non-existing events of the future?
A discussion of
Past and Future
without the Present
would seem surreal,
and dis-jointed, at best.
It would be quite laughable, Indeed,
if the Present is non-present.
Preciously, life is
a succession of the Present.
live in the Present,
with the vision of Oneness.
When the ego
is identified with the Divine,
that vision of
a universal person
it is the Self that I am:
I, the Self, is
Salutation to that
One-and-only Self, the Truth;
because it exists,
The World is projected,
But without independent existence.
It is the Consciousness
that lives in every being,
that Self enlivens us all,
By being gracious to all!
Knowing the greatness
of the Self
is the owning of my true nature.
Om, Peace! Peace!! Peace!!!
One of the performers at the Open Mic part was poet,Liz Greynolds. She had shared her poetry for two years at Dagny’s First Friday Open Mic. Currently, she is pursuing further education in the Bay Area. She related that her her poem was inspired by a dream she had. She said she felt “being humbled” by her dream and she wrote, “Small,” as result of her dream: The poem is “Small:”
By Liz Greynolds
I laid belly flat smack dab on the tile concrete waiting for what was right before my eyes to translate into bug human Spectrum action
fish lensed and elevated
two creatures in my eyes skanked and wobbled through rug rang carpet tiers
Predator and prey both in sheep’s coating
I lean in already so
close but clearer evermore as
my eyes or their bodies subdue and
scheme and combine into one monster but not
a monster in itself just a monster in the end for the end for the feast
And I see again in my through my eye that I’m so crammed up and big and large
And They are so small but possess such a mind-killer I must be made little again.
It was another evening of sharing of talent and time at First Friday.