Epigrams for June

Three Epigrams from Chang Ch’ao (17th century)


Flowers must have butterflies,
mountains must have streams,
rocks must have moss,
the ocean must have seaweed,
old trees must have creepers,
and people must have obsessions.


Only when you can take leisurely what the world is busy about,
can you be busy about what the world takes leisurely.


I wish to give a great nudist ball,
firstly to propitiate the geniuses of the centuries,
secondly to propitiate the beauties of the ages.
When there is a really great monk, I am going to do it.


Three epigrams taken from Chang Ch’ao’s book Quiet Dream Shadows. Lin Yutang in 1935 writes that Ch’ao’s epigrams ‘reflect the culture and taste of Ming authors, who combined simplicity of living with an extreme sensibility of soul.’



Featured image shows painting by Kuncan (1612-After 1674); Shen Shuyu (17th Century). Accessed at Sotheby’s website

Scholar on a Cliff; Poem in Running Script
ink and colour on paper; ink on paper, hanging scroll each 23.6 by 27 cm. 9 1/4 by 10 5/8 in.(2)