Welcome to my Literati
It was the year 1937. I was twelve years old and my father had just completed the construction of his mansion in the Lian'An Village. Lian'An Village was sort of an upscale place with only eight houses, all at least two stories high. Ours was three stories. All built by local denizens who had returned from the United States of America where they had for years diligently worked in the food and laundry trade and had been sufficiently frugal to amass a fortune of maybe ten thousand dollars. Anyway, at one end of the village there was a small community temple where incenses and paper monies were burnt to honor the ancestors on appropriate occasions. At the entrance to this temple above the door frame was inscribed with beautiful calligraphy the above Tang Dynasty poem which is shown here with an out-of-place Fujiyama as backdrop. The environment was like this. No electricity, no plumbing, no telephone, no Buck Jones movies, no means of going from place to place except by foot. There wasn't a whole lot of diversions for a 12 years old kid. But I was lucky. I had a mentor - a kid who was six years older than me who had already been in high school in Hong Kong. He had to move back to the village because of the turmoil due to the Sino-Nippon conflict. He took me in tow and taught me to read all the other poems inscribed on all the other houses in the village. Somehow I really took to his tutelage. I loved going around reading all the poems on the different house in a sing-song cadence in the Taishan local dialect. Of course, I am biased and really this day do believe that these poems are most beautifully read if done with the Taishan dialect. Perhaps that's the beginning of my literati. I hope the literary items categorized on the left might turn you on and or tickle your fancy as they have done me. Oh, yes, it really doesn't matter, but if you are wondering what the above poem says, my translation is:
Far, far up the Cold Mountain along the steep stone paved road.
Beneath the white clouds are the thriving masses.
I pause my chariot to enjoy the maple forest evening.
The whithered leaves are red like the February flowers.