How many times will you still sleep / with a jug of wine by your bed

By Kao Shih, from Red Pine’s translation of Poems of the [Thousand] Masters:

To Chang Hsu after Drinking

The world is full of fickle people
you old friend aren’t one
inspired you write like a god
drunk you’re crazier still
enjoying white hair and idle days
blue clouds now rise before you
how many times will you still sleep
with a jug of wine by your bed

And Red Pine’s endearingly unique commentary:

Chang Hsu (fl. 750) was one of China’s greatest calligraphers and was famous for his cursive script, which became more inspired as he drank.  When I was first living in Taiwan, whenever I had to go to Hong Kong to renew my visa I asked my calligraphy teacher (Chuang Yen, curator of the Palace Museum’s Calligraphy and Painting Collection) if I could bring him back brushes or ink, as people in Taiwan were still forbidden to travel to China. But all he ever asked for was Tachu White Lightning. He said he did his best work before dawn, after a cup or two. Chang also loved to drink and was ranked among the Eight Immortals of Wine. It’s said he kept a jug beside his bed so he could drink as soon as he woke up. Blue clouds represent high position and refer to his new post as court calligrapher, which required earlier hours than he was used to. Kao Shih 716-765 uses two of Chang’s nicknames here: ts’ao-sheng (god of shorthand) and tien (crazy).

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