Ao passarmos os olhos pela milenar poesia chinesa, não raras vezes encontramos inúmeros poemas que celebram o prazer de ler: em solidão e recolhimento nas nossas casas, isolados em estalagens no meio de montanhas antigas, em mosteiros budistas, em "pátios de livros" (shu yuan, existentes já desde a Dinastia Han), connosco ou na companhia de amigos, de sábios ou de outros leitores ávidos e impenitentes. Outros constituem mesmo uma homenagem a um livro ou a um poeta específicos.
Tanto assim é que, em Education in Traditional China: A History, Thomas Hong-Chi Lee chega mesmo a afirmar, em relação ao período da poesia Tang (618 – 907), que “there are so many of these poems that nobody has even thought that one could systematically study them, or treat them as a literary genre”. Talvez um dia alguém ouse publicar uma antologia de poemas que celebrem esse prazer de ler o outro.
Avanço, então, neste pequeno apontamento os primeiros passos nessa direcção, dando a conhecer ou a revisitar poemas que atravessam as Dinastias Jin, Tang, Song e Ming, ou seja, sensivelmente cerca de mil anos. São eles “Reading the Classic of Mountains and Seas I”, de Tao Yuanming, sobre o prazer da leitura em silêncio e recolhimento à entrada do Verão depois de terminados os trabalhos agrícolas da Primavera; “Song on the river”, de Li Bai, onde se refere que os poemas de Qu Yuan (340 – 270 a.C.), o grande poeta do Estado de Chu do Período dos Estados Guerreiros, ainda brilham tão intensamente quando o sol e a lua, apesar de os palácios de Chu já terem há muito desaparecido; “Reading the Poetry of Meng Chiao”, de Su Shi, uma crítica mordaz, maravilhosa e divertida aos poemas do seu contemporâneo Meng Chiao; “Night Rain: A Wall Collapses — Sent to My Neighbors”, de Yang Shih-ch'I, sobre uma operação de salvamento dos livros durante uma tempestade nocturna; e “On the day of Washing the Buddha (…)”, de Tang Xianzu, sobre um pai que queima livros ao invés de dinheiro falso no túmulo de seu filho, na esperança de que ele consiga obter o grau de chin-shih e se tornar um alto funcionário no mundo inferior. Termino esta pequena antologia com um poema de Yang Wanli, uma espécie de apologia da não leitura neste sábado chuvoso.
TAO YUANMING (365–427)
Reading the Classic of Mountains and Seas I
Summer's first month, all plants grow tall;
around my cottage, trees dense and full.
There flocks of birds rejoice to find lodging,
and I too cling with love to my cottage.
With the plowing done and the sowing,
now and then I can read my books.
These narrow lanes keep out deep ruts,
and tend to turn away old friends' carts.
In pleasure I pour out the wine of spring
and pick from the garden's vegetables.
A light rain is moving in from the east,
a nice breeze comes along with it.
I browse in the tales of the King of Zhou
look through the charts of the Mountains and Seas.
In an instant I have covered the universe –
If this is not joy, what is?
(Tradução de Stephen Owen)
Li BAI (701–762)
Song on the river
In a ship of spice-wood with unsinkable oars,
Musicians at both ends, we drift along the shores.
We have sweet wine with singing girls to drink our fill,
And so the waves may carry us where’er they will.
Immortals could not fly without their yellow crane;
Unselfish men might follow white gulls to the main.
The verse of Qu Ping shines as bright as sun and moon,
While palaces of Chu vanish like dreams at noon.
Seeing my pen in verve, even the mountains shake;
Hearing my laughter proud, the seaside hermits wake.
If worldly fame and wealth were things to last forever,
Then northwestward would turn the eastward-flowing river.
(Tradução de Xu Yuanchong)
SU SHI (1037-1101)
Reading the Poetry of Meng Chiao
Night: reading Meng Chiao's poems,
Characters fine as cow's hair.
By the cold lamp, my eyes blur and swim.
Good passages I rarely find—
Lone flowers poking up from the mud—
But more hard words than the Odes1 or "Li sao"2
Jumbled rocks clogging the clear stream,
Making rapids too swift for poling.
My first impression is of eating little fishes—
What you get's not worth the trouble;
Or of boiling tiny mud crabs
And ending up with some empty claws.
For refinement he might compete with monks
But he'd never match his master Han Yii.
Man's life is like morning dew,
A flame eating up the oil night by night.
Why should I strain my ears
Listening to the squeaks of this cold cicada?
Better lay aside the book
And drink my cup of jade-white wine.
(Tradução de Burton Watson)
1 Shih ching (Book of Songs) é a mais antiga antologia de poesia chinesa, constituída por 305 poemas/músicas de autoria anónima datadas aproximadamente entre a Dinastia Zhou Ocidental e meio do Período da Primavera e Outono (c. 840-620 a.C.).
2 Poema atribuído a Qu Yuan (c. 340 – 278 a.C.), conhecido especialmente pela sua antologia de poemas Chu Ci (The Songs of the South or Songs of Chu) e que, juntamente com o Book of Songs, constitui uma das duas grandes e mais prezadas colecções de poesia chinesa antiga.
YANG SHIH-CH'I (1365-1444)
Night Rain: A Wall Collapses — Sent to My Neighbors
A heavy rain crumbles a wall of my house;
I rise at night, grab my clothes, and run!
The wind enters the room, flapping the curtains;
water pours in a stream down the stairs.
The pots beneath the stove still not inundated;
quickly, I run to save the books on my desk.
If only I could be like my eastern and western neighbors:
calmly sleeping, not a thing to worry about.
(Tradução de Jonathan Chaves)
TANG XIANZU (1550-1616)
On the day of Washing the Buddha1 in the year ting-wei (1607), I dreamed that my late son Shihch'li was holding a book and appeared to be quite happy. 2 He said that he had earned his chin-shih degree in the underworld. After we sighed and laughed together for a long time, I woke up and wrote this poem.
I have burned ten thousand volumes
as paper money3 for you!
I have grieved at the death of such a talented son.
But do they really have an examination system
down in the Yellow Springs?
How many of your fellow students
have ascended to the Sixth Heaven4 of Desire?
(Tradução e notas de Jonathan Chaves)
1 On the eighth day of the fourth month in the lunar calendar, which was believed in China to be Buddha's birthday, images of Buddha would be washed in celebration.
2 Shih-ch'ii had died seven years earlier in Nanking. He had gone there to take examinations leading eventually to the bestowal of the Presented Scholar's degree, which would allow the candidate to enter the official bureaucracy. T'ang had been sending his son books to study from by burning them instead of the usual paper money, hoping that the books will reach him in the underworld (Yellow Springs).
3 Chinese traditionally burn paper money, printed specially for the purpose, as gifts for the souls of their ancestors.
4 In Buddhist mythology, the Sixth Heaven is the highest heaven in the Realm of Desire. T'ang uses it as an image for obtaining the Presented Scholar's degree.
YANG WANLI (1127–1206)
Don't Read Books!
Don't read books!
Don't chant poems!
When you read books your eyeballs wither away,
leaving the bare sockets.
When you chant poems your heart leaks out slowly
with each word.
People say reading books is enjoyable.
People say chanting poems is fun.
But if your lips constantly make a sound
like an insect chirping in autumn,
you will only turn into a haggard old man.
And even if you don't turn into a haggard old man,
it's annoying for others to have to hear you.
It's so much better
to close your eyes, sit in your study,
lower the curtains, sweep the floor,
It's beautiful to listen to the wind,
listen to the rain,
take a walk when you feel energetic,
and when you're tired go to sleep.
(Tradução de Jonathan Chaves)
Detalhe de Reading on a Mountain Hut de Liu Songnian (1127–1279).