The Lakeside Temple at Dawn
By Yang Wanli
The uncommon West Lake in the midst of sixth moon
Displays a scenery to other months unknown.
Green lotus leaves outspread as far as boundless sky;
Pink lotus blossoms take from sunshine a new dye.
Yang Wanli wrote poems in a way which is similar to that of photographing. He l was skilled in grasping the features and exquisite aspects of pictures, which make people feel that they seem to see the vivid things themselves after reading the poems. When we finish reading this little poem, it seems that a scene of a boundless stretch of lotus leaves on the surface of the West Lake appears before our eyes. Among the dark green lotus leaves, lotus flowers are so delicate and charming that the juice from them seems to be dripping under the shining sun. What’s more, the lotus in summer happens to be one of the most distinguishing features of the West Lake. Once this feature is grasped, the beauty of the West Lake will be unfolded. At the same time, this description is different from those of the mountains and rivers of the West Lake in other poems. The style of the writing departs from convention and distinguishes from others, which is just the reason why it makes this little poem loved by everyone. Up to now, it is still the work of a high order which describes the scenery of lotus.
Yang Wanli (1127-1206), who styled himself Tingxiu, was a poet in the Southern Song Dynasty. He was a native of Jishui in Jizhou, which now belongs to Jiangxi Province. He, Lu You and Fan Chengda were the most famous poets in the Southern Song Dynasty. He wrote a large number of poems, among which more than 4200 pieces are transmitted to later generations. But his achievement in poems was far inferior to those of Lu You and Fan Chengda. The feature of Yang Wanli’s poems is that they use the characteristics and development of the natural landscapes and leave vivid visions to people. The poet took everything from the sun and the moon, mountains and rivers to grass and trees, bees and butterflies as the objects of his poems. Therefore, his poems are natural, vivid, and close to the life. However, under general conditions, his poems are with relatively shallow implications and can only give the readers a superficial impression.