It is said that the Chinese poet Han Fook was inspired in his youth by a wonderful urge to learn everything and to perfect himself in everything that belongs to poetry. Back then, while he was still living in his home on the Yellow River, at his request and with the help of his parents, who loved him tenderly, he had been betrothed to a young lady from a good family, and the wedding was soon to be set for an auspicious day . Han Fook was then about twenty years old and a handsome young man, modest and of pleasant manners, instructed in the sciences and, despite his youth, already known among the writers of his homeland for many excellent poems. Without being rich, he had to expect an adequate fortune, which was increased by the dowry of his bride, and since this bride was also very beautiful and virtuous, nothing seemed to be lacking in the youth’s happiness. Still, he was not entirely satisfied, for his heart was filled with the ambition to become a perfect poet.
It happened one evening when a lamp festival was being celebrated on the river that Han Fook walked alone on the other side of the river. He leaned against the trunk of a tree that leaned over the water and saw a thousand lights floating and trembling in the mirror of the river, he saw men and women and young girls on the boats and rafts greeting each other and dressed in festive robes like beautiful flowers shine, he heard the faint murmur of the illuminated water, the singing of the female singers, the whirring of the zither and the sweet tones of the flute player, and above it all he saw the bluish night hovering like the vault of a temple. The youth’s heart pounded as, as a lonely spectator, following his whim, he contemplated all this beauty. But as much as wanted him to go over and be there and enjoy the party in the vicinity of his bride and his friends, he nevertheless longed more ardently to receive all of this as a fine spectator and to reflect it in a perfectly perfect poem: the blue of the night and the play of lights in the water as well as the pleasure of the guests and the longing of the silent spectator who leans against the trunk of the tree over the bank. He felt that with all the festivities and all the joy of this earth, his heart could never be completely comfortable and cheerful, that even in the midst of life he was a lonely and in a sense one the blue of the night and the play of lights in the water as well as the pleasure of the guests and the longing of the silent spectator who leans against the trunk of the tree over the bank. He felt that with all the festivities and all the joys of this earth, his heart could never be completely comfortable and cheerful, that even in the midst of life he was lonely and, in a sense, one the blue of the night and the play of lights in the water as well as the pleasure of the guests and the longing of the silent spectator who leans against the trunk of the tree over the bank. He felt that with all the festivities and all the joy of this earth, his heart could never be completely comfortable and cheerful, that even in the midst of life he was a lonely and in a sense one Would remain a spectator and a stranger, and he felt that his soul alone was such, among many others, that he had to feel at the same time the beauty of the earth and the secret desire of the stranger. He became sad about it and pondered this matter, and the aim of his thoughts was this, that he could only get a real happiness and a deep satiety if he succeeded in reflecting the world so perfectly in poetry that he in these mirror images the world itself would have purified and immortalized.
Han Fook had scarcely known whether he was still awake or asleep when he heard a faint noise and saw a stranger standing next to the tree trunk, an old man in a purple robe and with venerable expressions. He straightened up and greeted him with the greeting that goes to the old and distinguished, but the stranger smiled and said a few verses in which everything the young man had just felt was so perfect and beautiful and according to the rules of the great To put it more poetically, that the youth’s heart stopped with astonishment.
“Oh, who are you,” he cried, bowing deeply, “who you can see into my soul and speak more beautiful verses than I have ever heard from any of my teachers?”
The stranger smiled again with the smile of the perfected and said: “When you become a poet want, come to me. You can find my hut by the source of the great river in the north-western mountains. My name is master of the perfect word. ”
With that the old man stepped into the narrow shade of the tree and was immediately gone, and Han Fook, who looked for him in vain and found no trace of him, now firmly believed that it was all a dream of tiredness. He hurried over to the boats and attended the party, but between conversation and the sound of the flute he kept hearing the stranger’s mysterious voice, and his soul seemed to have passed with that, for he sat strangely and with dreaming eyes among the happy people who met him with his Infatuation teased.
A few days later, Han Fook’s father wanted to call his friends and relatives to determine the date of the wedding. Then the bridegroom resisted and said, “Forgive me if I seem to be breaking the obedience that the son owes the father. But you know how much it is my desire to distinguish me in the art of poets, and even if some of my friends praise my poems, I know very well that I am still a beginner and still on the first steps of the road. So I beg you, let me go into solitude for a while and pursue my studies, because it seems to me that when I have a wife and a house to rule, this will keep me from doing those things. But now I am still young and have no other duties and would like to live a time alone for my poetry, from which I hope for joy and fame. ”
The speech astonished the father, and he said: “You must be very fond of this art because you want to postpone your wedding because of it. Or has something come between you and your bride, tell me that I can help you to reconcile her or to get you another. ”
But the son swore that he loved his bride no less than yesterday and always and that the shadow of a quarrel had not fallen between him and her. And at the same time he told his father that through a dream on the day of the lamp festival he had become aware of a master whose pupil he wished more than all the happiness in the world.
“Well,” said the father, “I’ll give you a year. During this time you may pursue your dream, which may have been sent to you by a god. ”
“It may be two years,” said Han Fook hesitantly, “who wants to know?”
The father let him go and was sad, but the young man wrote his bride a letter, said goodbye and went away.
After a long hike, he reached the source of the river and found one in great solitude The old man he had seen on the bank by the tree trunk was sitting on a woven mat in front of the hut. He sat and played the lute, and when he saw the guest approaching with awe, he did not rise or greet him, but only smiled and ran his delicate fingers over the strings, and magical music flowed like a silver cloud through the valley, so that the young man stood and astonished himself and in sweet astonishment forgot everything else, until the master of the perfect word put his little lute aside and entered the hut. Han Fook followed him with awe and stayed with him as his servant and student.
A month passed when he had learned to despise all the songs he had previously composed, and he wiped them out of his mind. And again after months he erased the songs he had learned from his teachers at home from his memory. The master hardly spoke a word to him, he taught him the art of playing the lute in silence until the pupil’s essence was completely permeated with music. Han Fook once wrote a little poem in which he described the flight of two birds in the autumn sky and which he liked. He dared not show it to Master, but he sang it one evening away from the hut and Master heard it well. He didn’t say a word, however. He only played softly on his lute, and immediately it was The air was cool and the twilight accelerated, a sharp wind rose, although it was in the middle of summer, and two herons flew over the sky, which had become gray, longing for a mighty wandering, and all this was so much more beautiful and perfect than the pupil’s verses that it made him sad became and was silent and felt worthless. And so the old man did every time, and when a year had passed, Han Fook had learned to play the lute almost completely, but he saw the art of poetry standing more and more heavily and loftily.
When two years had passed, the young man felt a strong homesickness for his own people, for his homeland and for his bride, and he asked the master to let him travel.
The master smiled and nodded. “You are free,” he said, “and you can go wherever you want. You may come back, you may stay away, just as you like it. ”
So the pupil set out on his journey and wandered restlessly until one morning at dusk he stood on the bank of his home and looked over the arched bridge to his hometown. He crept furtively into his father’s garden and heard his father’s breath go through the window of his father’s bedroom, while he was still asleep, and he stole into the tree garden by his bride’s house and saw his bride standing in the room from the top of a pear tree he was climbing and comb their hair. And when he compared all of this, as he saw it with his eyes, with the picture he had painted of it in his homesickness, it became clear to him that he was destined to be a poet after all, and he saw that in the dreams of Poet lives a beauty and grace which one searches in vain in the things of reality. And he descended from the tree and fled from the garden and across the bridge from his native city and returned to the high valley in the mountains. There sat like the old master in front of his hut on the modest mat and beat the lute with his fingers, and instead of the greeting he spoke two verses about the delights of art, at the depth and sound of which the disciple’s eyes were full of tears.
Once again Han Fook stayed with the master of the perfect word who, now that he had mastered the lute, taught him the zither, and the months passed like snow in the west wind. Twice more it happened that he felt homesick. One time he secretly ran away in the night, but before he had even reached the last bend in the valley, the night wind ran over the zither that hung in the door of the hut, and the tones flew after him and called him back that he couldn’t resist. The other time, however, he dreamed that he was planting a young tree in his garden and that his wife and his were standing there Children watered the tree with wine and milk. When he awoke, the moon shone in his room, and he rose, disturbed, and saw the master lying next to him in his slumber, his old beard trembling gently; then he felt bitter hatred of this man who, it seemed to him, had destroyed his life and cheated him of his future. He wanted to pounce on him and murder him, then the old man opened his eyes and immediately began to smile with a fine, sad gentleness that disarmed the student.
“Remember, Han Fook,” said the old man softly, “you are free to do what you want. You may go to your home and plant trees, you may hate me and kill me, it is not important. ”
“Oh, how could I hate you,” cried the poet, violently. “It’s as if I wanted to hate heaven itself.”
And he stayed and learned to play the zither, and then the flute, and later he began to make poetry under the instructions of the master, and he slowly learned that secret art of saying only the simple and simple, but thereby closing the listener’s soul dig like the wind in a water surface. He described the coming of the sun, hesitating at the edge of the mountains, and the silent scurrying of the fish when they flee like shadows under the water, or the swaying of a young willow in the spring wind, and when one heard it, it was not the sun and the game of fish and the whispering of the willow alone, but each time the sky and the world seemed to sound together for a moment in perfect music, and every listener thought with pleasure or pain of what he loved or hated, the boy to play, the young man to his beloved and the old man to death.
Han Fook did not remember how many years he had stayed with the Master at the source of the great river; Often it seemed to him as if he had only stepped into this valley yesterday evening and had been received by the old man’s strings, often it also seemed to him as if all ages and times had fallen behind him and became insubstantial.
Then one morning he woke up alone in the hut, and wherever he looked and called, the master had disappeared. Autumn suddenly seemed to have come overnight, a rough wind rattled the old hut, and large flocks of migratory birds flew over the ridge of the mountains, although it was not yet their time.
Han Fook then took the little lute with him and went down into the country of his homeland, and wherever he came to people they greeted him with the greeting that goes to the old and noble, and when he came to his hometown there was his Father and his bride and kindred died, and others People lived in their homes. In the evening, however, the lamp festival was celebrated on the river, and the poet Han Fook stood on the darker bank on the other side, leaning against the trunk of an old tree, and when he began to play his little lute, the women sighed and looked delighted anxiously into the night, and the young men called for the lute player, whom they could not find anywhere, and called out loudly that none of them had ever heard such tones of a lute. But Han Fook smiled. He looked into the river where the reflections of the thousand lamps floated; and just as he could no longer distinguish the mirror images from the real ones, so he found no difference in his soul between this festival and that first,