Proverbs and Poems in Winter Solstice
To Anjie on the Winter Solstice
By Su Shi (Song Dynasty)
I have already experienced many Winter Solstices,
While my childhood still seems like yesterday.
When I was young, I used to serve the brothers of my father,
Kowtowing to congratulate them on their birthdays made my knees ache.
I have come to the fading of life these years
The gray hair has grown and due to all kinds of diseases,
I am becoming older.
My father has three brothers, While I only have one.
The nearest relatives are on the other side of the river,
The furthest one is at the end of the world.
Today how lucky I am,
To meet a nephew from so far away
I still remember when you were a little child,
You cried and laughed for pears and chestnuts.
Now you are so imposing,
With will that is hard as iron.
The grandchildren have already grown up,
There is no end to this cycle
I feel detached after finishing this poem,
While my tears can’t stop.
Su Shi (苏轼) (January 8, 1037 – August 24, 1101), was a writer, poet, artist, calligrapher, pharmacologist, and statesman of the Song Dynasty, and one of the major poets of the Song era. His courtesy name was Zizhan (子瞻) and his pseudonym was Dongpo Jushi (东坡居士), and he is often referred to as Su Dongpo (苏东坡).
Su Shi was born in Meishan, near Mount Emei in what is now Sichuan province. His brother Su Zhe (苏辙) and his father Su Xun (苏洵) were both famous literati. Su's early education was conducted under a Taoist priest at a local village school. Later in his childhood, he studied under his mother, herself a highly educated woman. Su married at age 17. In 1057, when Su was 19, he and his brother passed the (highest-level) civil service examinations to attain the degree of jinshi, a prerequisite for high government office. His accomplishments at such a young age attracted the attention of Ouyang Xiu, who became Su's patron thereafter. Ouyang had already been known as an admirer of Su Xun, sanctioning his literary style at court and stating that no other pleased him more. When the 1057 jinshi examinations were given, Ouyang Xiu required—without prior notice—that candidates were to write in the ancient prose style when answering questions on the Confucian classics. The Su brothers gained high honors for what were deemed impeccable answers and achieved celebrity status.