Huang T'ing-chien's Verse on Narcissi in Running Script

Huang T'ing-chien's Verse on Narcissi in Running Script
Liu Yung (1720-1804), Ch'ing Dynasty
Hanging scroll, ink on paper, 114 x 51 cm

     Liu Yung never tired of reading and writing works of poetry by the masters. Good poetry can not only be read over and over, but can also leave an even deeper impression when transcribed in calligraphy (which also improves in the process). Perhaps for this reason, Liu Yung did not distinguish his lessons in poetry from those in calligraphy. This hanging scroll is an example of such. It is a transcription of Huang T'ing-chien's verse on narcissus blossoms composed of eight lines with seven characters each. The narcissus is a plant praised for the purity of its blossoms and subtle fragrance, and it became a metaphor for the ideals of the scholar in Chinese thought. It is also admired for its ability to bloom in the cold of early spring, thus being a symbol of endurance in times of difficulties. Liu Yung particularly enjoyed this poem and praised Huang's study of the T'ang poet Tu Fu. Liu himself was also a poet, so he had a better appreciation than most for the feelings of other poets. From our point of view, however, we can appreciate the ideal complement of Liu Yung's calligraphy and Huang T'ing-chien's poetry.